WHO says Covid misinformation drives pandemics around the world

August 26, 2021: -A top World Health Organization official said Tuesday that misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines keeps people from getting the doses, driving an increase in cases around the world.

“In the last four weeks, the misinformation that is out there seems to be getting worse, and I think that’s confusing for the general public,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid, said during a Q&A live streamed on the organization’s social media channels.

Misinformation is another risk factor that is “really allowing the virus to thrive,” she said.

Health officials say that misinformation has become a growing problem in the outbreak, fueling vaccine hesitancy among a wary public. They hope that the Food and Drug Administration’s formal approval of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine, which was announced on Monday, will help people who have been on the fence about getting immunized to get the doses.

Three in 10 unvaccinated Americans said they would be more likely to get the vaccine once it is FDA-approved, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey conducted July 15-27. The medical experts worry that some Americans that were not vaccinated used the lack of full FDA approval as a credible explanation for their hesitancy and will look for other reasons to refuse to get the vaccine.

According to Kaiser’s data, most unvaccinated Americans think the Covid vaccines are more of a threat to their health than contracting the virus itself. According to Kaiser’s data, Americans who are least likely to receive a Covid-19 vaccine are primarily white, Republican, and less likely to have a college degree.

Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said misinformation about the vaccine is “one of the biggest challenges that we still face in getting the public vaccinated.”

“We’ve heard false claims that the Covid-19 vaccine causes infertility, contains microchips, and causes Covid-19,” Marks said. “And worse, we’ve heard false claims that thousands of people have died from the vaccine. Let me be clear: These claims are not true.”

Misinformation about alternative treatments for Covid-19 has gone so far that the FDA and the Mississippi State Health Department put out advisories over the weekend to warn Americans not to ingest animal de-wormer Ivermectin.

The director of the WHO’s Latin America branch, the Pan American Health Organization, made a personal appeal to residents of Caribbean countries to “wake up” from the slumber of misinformation spreading throughout the islands and get vaccinated.

Vaccination could help us get Covid under control by the spring, according to the chief medical advisor to the president, Dr. Anthony Fauci.