Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Covid-19: why vaccine mistrust is growing | The Economist

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A vaccine is the worlds best hope of overcoming the covid-19 pandemic

More than 20 vaccines are in development, globally...

...but as scientists move closer to success...

Possible breakthrough in the development...

...of a coronavirus vaccine

...theres a problem

Freedom

A growing number of people say they wont take a vaccine

I dont want to inject anything like this into my body

This is linked to declining trust in scientific experts and political leaders...

Hypocrite

...problems brought into even sharper focus by the pandemic...

I call it covid bollocks

...and fuelled by a spiralling infodemic

Take off your mask

Anybody who has trusted the president has been lied to...

...and many people like my dad have paid with their life

This crisis of trust could have catastrophic consequences

So, what can be done to rebuild trust in vaccines...

...and to protect the world from future disasters?

All vaccine advocates need to be more tech savvy

We have science and evidence and right and fact on our side

This is the front line in the race to find a covid-19 vaccine

Professor Jonathan Heeney is one of those leading the charge

It has very much been a race against time...

...and sometimes I wish time could stand still

The professor has been developing vaccines for over 25 years

Now we have representatives of those viruses...

...that are closely related to SARS-1 or SARS-2

But finding one to fight a virus...

...which has brought the world to its knees, feels different

I do know people whove had covid and its a terrible, terrible death

It is an agonising disease

This project in Cambridge is about to begin clinical human trials...

...and the stakes could not be higher

If we dont have a vaccine, we will be stuck in this lifestyle of isolation...

...social distancing, masks for a long, long time

For a vaccine to immunise populations effectively against covid-19...

...around 70% of people need to be willing to take it

Trust is absolutely critical

If only part of the population is onboard...

...were never going to bring this virus to its knees...

...and control this epidemic

Choose your side, choose your side

But, in the rich world especially...

...polls suggest that persuading people to take vaccines...

...may be as difficult as producing them in the first place

Are you gonna take it?

No

Are you gonna let your kids have it?

No

What are they?

Liars

Many of these protesters belong to a growing minority...

...who believe a covid-19 vaccine...

...would actually be harmful to their health

Do I worry about vaccinations, this one in particular?

Yes, definitely

Its been rushed and imposed on us...

...and I know I want to have my choice...

...and I dont want to inject anything like this into my body...

...and into my childrens body

Some here see a vaccine as part of a wider government conspiracy...

...to exaggerate the dangers of covid-19

We do not consent

Many of these people have lost trust in their government

Take off your masks

I call it covid bollocks, what do you call it?

Covid bollocks

We want the truth

And we will not give up until we get the truth

Were not going to stand for being lied to by our governments...

...by people that we should trust

They want us to trust but we cant trust them

The views being expressed here are extreme and belong to a minority

The proportion of the global population opposed to vaccines generally...

...is estimated to be well under 10%

But anti-vaxxers, as they are often called...

...are a vocal minority and their views are increasingly...

...influencing broader society

Distrust can be infectious

A poll carried out in America in September...

...found that only 36% of adults said they would take a vaccine...

...when one becomes available...

...with 64% saying they wouldnt take one or werent sure

In another survey under four-fifths of people...

...in 16 countries responded positively to the idea...

...of taking a covid-19 vaccine, if proven safe and effective

In the context of covid, I think empathy is absolutely crucial

Professor Heidi Larson is an anthropologist...

...and a leading expert on why significant sections...

...of the global population feel hesitant about vaccines

She says a failure to confront the root causes of vaccine hesitancy...

...as she calls it...

...is driving more of these people towards anti-vaccination views

The majority of the public that is questioning...

...theyre hesitant, theyre anxious

These are people who have genuine questions...

...who are open to vaccination...

...but are feeling theyre not getting their answers...

...and then migrate more to the more anti-end...

...that seem more acknowledging their concerns...

...endorsing their concerns

Professor Larson argues that one of the historic problems...

...has been a failure by the medical establishment to listen...

...to the concerns of parents who have doubts...

...about inoculating their children

A lot of parents feel like theyre being judged...

...called names for even asking questions

And thats not at all been helpful...

...in trying to support people in their decision-making...

...and positive sentiments towards a vaccine

Its really fundamentally about trust, relational trust

Breaking news...

...testing has been paused for one of the leading...

...candidates developed by Oxford University

In September a volunteer from a leading...

...covid-19-vaccine trial was admitted to hospital...

...and the project was temporarily halted

Professor Larson says an opportunity was missed...

...to build trust with the public

I wish in the news instead of just this is normal process...

...safety events happen, were taking care of it...

...that the voice of a participant said...

...I appreciate the care and the attention...

...that the clinical team gave to me during this uncertain time

The message is sent that there is a caring team

That theyre not just putting vaccines in people to count numbers...

...and get to the perfect vaccine

That there is human empathy in this

The medical and pharmaceutical professions...

...have been far from immune to missteps...

...during the history of vaccines...

...and this has helped fuel todays climate...

...of vaccine hesitancy and opposition...

...not least the legacy of a British doctor...

...named Andrew Wakefield

In 1998 he published research in a highly respected medical journal...

...claiming there was a link between a measles vaccine and autism

Wakefield and colleagues altered facts about patients in their studies

But his research turned out to be highly compromised

Studies have shown no connection between the MMR vaccination and autism

The journal eventually retracted the research...

...and Wakefield was struck off the medical register in the UK in 2010

But, many members of the public continued to see Wakefield...

...as a credible expert

This guy has been set up, its nothing but lies

And millions across the world still have reservations...

...about taking the measles vaccine

Its symptomatic of a wider decline in trust in traditional experts...

...and governments in rich-world countries

Dr Jonathan Kennedy is an expert in global public health...

...and has investigated the link between trust in government...

...and authorities and hesitancy about vaccines

In this class were going to talk about...

...the question of how to think critically about global health

Dr Kennedy analysed voting data and surveys on public confidence...

...in vaccines across 14 countries

He found a broad pattern

Where levels of electoral support for populist parties were higher...

...levels of mistrust in vaccines also tended to be higher

Populist sentiment, this distrust of elites and experts...

...isnt just isolated in politics

The forces driving scientific populism...

...are all very similar to those that drive political populism

Dr Kennedy argues theres a strong relationship...

...between vaccine hesitancy and political, social and economic crisis

At a time when trust between people and politicians...

...has been breaking down...

...a number of countries have seen a resurgence of measles

You trying to punch me sir?

I did not

How dare you

Yes, you racist

It certainly wasnt a coincidence that the UK last summer...

...lost its measles-free status

How about that

At a time where there was massive conflict over Brexit

During the covid-19 pandemic...

...the response of governments has further decreased trust...

...in public-health experts and politicians...

...not least in some countries with populist leaders

If test and trace isnt improved significantly...

...there could be a second wave

In Britain, under Prime Minister Boris Johnsons leadership...

...public-health guidance has changed constantly...

...and confusingly

Were constantly working to improve that delivery system...

...buying PPE from around the world

Creating a sense that the government is failing and incompetent

In a huge policy reversal affecting hundreds of thousands of pupils

Whats more, senior political figures...

...have failed to follow their own health guidelines

Trust in the British government as a reliable source of information...

...about coronavirus fell from 67% in April to 44% in August

Dont let it dominate you, dont be afraid of it

In America, false information about the virus...

...has flowed from a president...

...whose contempt for truth has done more than anything else...

...to sow distrust in politicians and experts

One month ago today President Trump said...

...that the coronavirus was dying out

Ive read a lot about Hydroxy, I happen to think that it has an impact

And then I see the disinfectant, it knocks it out in a minute

Researchers at Cornell University analysed...

...38m English-language articles about the pandemic

They found President Trump was the single largest driver...

...of misinformation around covid-19

This is me and my mum and my dad in New York...

...where I graduated from college

For some this has had lethal consequences

In June, Kristin Urquiza lost her father Mark to covid-19

65-year-old Mark was a life-long Republican voter...

...and Trump supporter from Arizona

He died after Arizonas governor reopened the state...

...encouraged by the president

When the governor and the president went around...

...pushing a reopening strategy and saying to the public...

...it was safe if you didnt have an underlying health condition...

...it was safe to go out, resume normal activities...

...my dad listened and thought it was safe

Mark contracted covid-19 after visiting a karaoke bar

His daughter says placing trust in his political leaders...

...proved a fatal mistake

Both the president and the governor of Arizona...

...are on record through that time, downplaying the virus

Anybody who has trusted the president has been lied to...

...has been misled and many people...

...like my dad, have paid with their life as a result

While the actions of populist politicians have undermined trust...

...in public-health advice and institutions

There is another factor which has driven this trend...

...the unprecedented speed at which misinformation can spread

In February, the World Health Organisation warned of twin dangers...

...a global pandemic but also an infodemic

A crisis in accurate public-health information

These insufferable globalist elitists like Bill Gates

He tells us we need a nationwide shutdown for months

This foundation is leading the charge to lower the worlds population

Much of this infodemic is concentrated online

Social-media users...

...who may not hold strong views about particular issues...

...can rapidly be exposed to misleading and extremist content

Folks, I think theyre trying to force a vaccine on all of us

Neil Johnson is a professor of physics...

...at George Washington University

His research shows how fake news can gain the upper hand...

...in the online battle for hearts and minds

What we expected to find was that thered be a core of communities...

...maybe public-health agencies...

...that were promoting vaccines and establishment-health thinking

And that around this central strong core...

...thered be other opinions, sort of extremes

But thats not what we found

We found that that was actually sort of inside out

Professor Johnsons team mapped conversations on Facebook...

...about vaccines between 100m people all over the world

They discovered that misinformation...

...was exerting more influence than accurate information

In some sense its almost like a network of trust...

...and if they flipped either way of course...

...they could become red, they could become blue...

...and that completely changes the battlefield

On this battlefield map...

...red represents Facebook pages and members...

...with anti-vaccination views and their spread over time

Blue represents pages and members with pro-vaccination views

While green signifies the all-important groups of people...

...who are undecided

The undecided greens are more engaged...

...with the red anti-vaccination clusters...

...than the pro-vaccination blues

The reds, they are completely entangled with the greens...

...the not sures, the communities of pet lovers...

...parents groups, organic-blueberry lovers...

...the ones that can tip the balance one way or the other

The worry is, as we see the greens and the reds entangle...

...what were really seeing is a beginning of an entanglement...

...of trust away from establishment science

Trust is the glue

Because in the end, when we trust the community...

...if they happen to start talking about vaccines...

...which is something that I dont ordinarily think about...

...I will follow them in their thinking

This entanglement matters

Research has found that online exposure to recent misinformation...

...about a covid-19 vaccine may significantly affect intent to take one

And Professor Johnson believes this kind of content...

...will continue to spread online with the result that...

...anti-vaccination sentiment could become the majority view

Within a few years, red with the concerned greens, will rise...

...to essentially dominate that space

And itll be very hard to reverse that

So something different needs to be done now

Social-media platforms have increased their efforts...

...to stop the spread of untruths about vaccines and covid-19

In April, Facebook put warning labels...

...on about 50m pieces of content related to the virus

The platform partnered with reliable sources...

...like the WHO and the NHS

And in October, Facebook banned anti-vaccine ads

Yet campaigners argue the platform isnt going far enough...

...and is failing to take down...

...the majority of harmful content about vaccinations

More broadly, Facebooks own algorithm...

...undermines efforts to stem the tide of the infodemic...

...says Fadi Quran, from the online political campaign group, Avaaz

Facebooks algorithm is sabotaging the efforts...

...of the platform to fix the misinformation problem

It cares about keeping individuals engaged, interested and online

Sensationalist, outrageous content, not the CDC guidelines...

...but QAnon, for example, gets more engagement...

...and hence the algorithm pushes it up in your news feed

One solution might be to detoxify the algorithm

What Facebook isnt doing is redesigning its algorithm...

...redesigning its business model...

...to ensure that its not continuing to amplify this content

And this does not mean that the algorithm...

...should be designed to censor content

It just means that the algorithm would downgrade...

...instead of putting this malicious content...

...at the top of ones news feed...

...the platform would make sure that it is at the bottom of the news feed

Social-media platforms could save lives

They have the power

This is a problem that Mark Zuckerberg...

...and Jack Dorsey could literally say...

...were going to solve this right now

Yet redesigning algorithms and tightening regulations...

...on tech companies is unlikely to get to the root causes...

...of mistrust in vaccines

To do that health bodies and experts...

...will need to be proactive about building relationships...

...with the public, in person, and especially online

According to doctors at this paediatric practice in Pittsburgh...

...the key to tackling distrust, and misinformation...

...is to fight fire with fire

Hello, its a yucky doctor coming in

How are you guys doing today?

Good, how are you?

Im doing ok

While it might look like any other childrens surgery...

...the Kids Plus practice has its own in-house video production suite...

...getting messages out to patients constantly and quickly

Vaccine advocates are online using our voices...

...not the same way we are in the office...

...were saving lives, were protecting them against mistruths...

...and disinformation that can literally kill people

I think all vaccine advocates need to be more tech savvy

Kids Plus routinely post evidence-based videos...

...and information about vaccines on all major social-media platforms

Ill start things off until we see our questions start rolling in again...

...hello to TikTok, hello to Facebook live

And this presence allows them to respond to questions...

...from parents and families, who feel uninformed and concerned

Our parents, our families are living their entire lives right here...

...on their phones, on their tablets, on their laptops, their desktops

If people hear good evidence-based information...

...before they hear the mis- and disinformation...

...that mis- and disinformation is much less likely to affect them

What youre essentially doing is inoculating them against that bullshit...

...before it can take root in them

These doctors also argue that its vital to take on the stream...

...of highly organised and targeted viral attacks from anti-vaccine forces

The reality of online vaccine advocacy right now is if you post it...

...they will come, the anti-vaxxers will find you and they will attack you

They want to terrorise providers into silence

Its a challenge the practice knows all about

Together we can prevent cancer in your children

In 2017 Kids Plus released a video...

...promoting an HPV vaccine that prevents cancer...

...and faced a barrage of hostility

They attacked our posts

They attacked our Facebook page

They attacked the private pages of our families...

...and our patients who defended us on our post

They came right after our reputation

Kids Plus has since created a toolkit for health professionals...

...and built a digital cavalry of global-vaccine advocates...

...who can quickly come to the aid of those under fire...

...from anti-vaccine forces

Now, as a vaccine for covid-19 grows closer...

...Kids Plus and its self-styled keyboard crusaders...

...are steeling themselves for a bitter, but all important new fight

There is no vaccine yet

Theres no herd immunity for covid

And look, this is what life is like without herd immunity

This is what life is like without vaccines

Past evidence suggests some people could end up taking vaccines...

...after saying they might not

But herd immunity to covid-19...

...may require around 70% take up of a vaccine...

...and just a six percentage point decline in acceptance...

...could endanger this goal

And for many, alarm bells are ringing

Were losing in large part...

...because the anti-vaccine forces are much more passionate...

...and organised than we are

There are far fewer of them than there are of us

We have science and evidence and right and fact, on our side

Thats how we win

The Description of Covid-19: why vaccine mistrust is growing | The Economist