As the race to develop vaccines continue, some outspoken voices are coming from the anti-vaccine movement that is trying to undermine the efforts of the scientists developing it. Global efforts in developing coronavirus vaccines are unending as the pandemic shows no sign of stopping yet.
Currently, there are 70 developing vaccines all over the world as reported by the World Health Organization. Researchers and public health officials hope to have a vaccine by the second half of 2021 if all goes well with its development.
However, some people are against its development and are cultivating conspiracy theories on social media and sow seeds of doubt that could threaten the success of a future coronavirus vaccine.
Anti-vaxxers spreading doubt on social media
In one Facebook post by Larry Cook who has nearly 50,000 YouTube subscribers and an anti-vaccine promoter, he said that, "make no mistake about it, the purpose of the coronavirus is to help inaugurate vaccination mandates. Be awake. Know the plan. Prepare yourself. Resist."
Likewise, Del Bigtree, a film producer who hosted the radio show HighWire and also an anti-vaccine activist pushed the claim not supported that COVID-19 is created in a laboratory and suggested it might have something to do with developing vaccines.
More plots of these anti-vaxxers are going the rounds in the social media especially in Facebook groups that are focused on vaccine skepticism.
Dr. Matthew Motta, an assistant professor of political science specializing in public health and scientific communication at Oklahoma State University said that it is expected that anti-vaccine conspiracies are spreading now because there is a lot of uncertainty on its development. It is very easy to cultivate stories like that because they are difficult to prove.
"Vaccines become a ready explanation for the inexplicable and perhaps the most basic reason the anti-vaccine movement exists is that it gives people an answer to this question," said Motta, pointing to a notorious report published in 1998, then retracted, that falsely linked the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) with autism in children.
A lot of the reasons for spreading these anti-vaccine ideas are rooted in the distrust of the government. The suspicion of authoritative figures or groups is a common thread running through many anti-conspiracy theories, said Ashley Landrum assistant professor of scientific communication at Texas Tech University.
The effect anti-vaxxers can cause to the coronavirus pandemic
The consequences of a conspiracy campaign by an anti-vaccine group can be disastrous during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Motta found a 40 % overlap between those who are skeptical about the safety of the vaccine and those people who believe that the CDC exaggerates the risks of COVID-19 after analyzing the two overlapping Pew Research Survey data sets.
It may require more than 80% to 90% of the population to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity as the contagiousness of the disease depends on it. The disease may continue to spread if a certain part of the population refuses to be vaccinated based on false information. This could cause disastrous consequences.
As the death toll continues to increase and many Americans are locked out, the fear of the virus is widespread as well. There are still many unknowns about how the future will unfold and this environment of uncertainty and anxiety breeds conspiracies that are of no help to the current situation.