On Monday, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer released early analysis that suggested its COVID-19 vaccine was 90 percent effective. The announcement, while no guarantee of a vaccine, was a ray of hope for Americans awaiting an end to the pandemic at a time when new cases are setting records nationally by the day. But a vocal crowd—which has drawn support from the anti-lockdown movement and other conspiratorial scenes—is already voicing its opposition to a coronavirus vaccine.
Adding to the doubt is at least one member of the First Family, who cast suspicion about the vaccine following President Donald Trump’s re-election defeat.
Hours after Pfizer’s Monday announcement, conspiratorial social media channels lit up with baseless claims. Some warned, without evidence, that the COVID-19 vaccine would come with ghastly side effects. This despite Pfizer indicating its candidate had produced no serious safety issues, at least so far, and an array of independent boards and other safeguards in place to prevent dangerous vaccines from reaching the public.
Others alleged, also without evidence, that the vaccine was actually a secret microchip and that Microsoft founder Bill Gates was going to use the microchips for nefarious (if somewhat unclear) purposes. Maybe mind-control, or depopulation.
Another set of critics opposed the very principle of getting a vaccine, claiming the not-yet-available shot amounted to a violation of their personal freedoms.
If these claims sound familiar, it’s because they’ve flooded the internet since COVID-19 swept the planet early this year. The anti-vaccination movement was already loud and troubling before the pandemic, with the World Health Organization naming “vaccine hesitancy” as a top-10 threat to global health in 2019. But COVID, and its associated mask mandates and lockdowns, has turbocharged a new conspiratorial attitude that embraces anti-vaxx.
The closer a COVID-19 vaccine gets, the more bellicose those attitudes become………
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