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Monday, July 15, 2024

Investigation reveals how US military undermined Chinese vaccine

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In what could be described as a war for market control, a new Reuters investigative report has exposed how the US Department of Defense, the Pentagon, secretly carried out an anti-vaccine campaign to discredit the Sinovac vaccine, produced by China.

The report states that the campaign was developed specifically in the Philippines between 2020 and 2021, at the height of the pandemic, which shook the world, claimed thousands of lives and paralyzed the global economy.

Internal report

Released Friday, the report revealed that U.S. officials coordinated a clandestine effort during former President Donald Trump’s administration. The campaign against Sinovac dragged on for many months during the administration of Trump’s successor, Joe Biden.

According to the report, the campaign aimed to sow doubts about the effectiveness and safety of the Chinese vaccine and neutralize China’s growing influence in Asia and the world. At the same time, the US government quietly distributed vaccines to its citizens.

The report claims that officials launched a disinformation program using more than 300 fake social media accounts, especially on X (formerly Twitter), to pose as Filipinos, warning others to avoid China’s vaccine.

These bot accounts reportedly posted a handful of alleged complaints about the quality of masks, test kits, and China’s Sinovac vaccine with the hashtag “Chinaangvirus” (“China is the virus” in Tagalog). “COVID came from China and the VACCINE too. It came from China, don’t trust China! A typical tweet from July 2020 is said to have been read in Tagalog. The words were said to have been placed next to a photo of a syringe next to a Chinese flag and a rising graph of infections.

Another post reads: “PPE, mask and vaccine from China: FALSE. But the coronavirus is real.” “COVID came from China and the VACCINE also came from China, don’t trust China!”

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In the report, Reuters said the fake accounts used by the US military had tens of thousands of followers during the program.

However, Reuters could not determine how widely the anti-vaccine material and other misinformation planted by the Pentagon was read or the extent of COVID deaths it may have caused.

Fight against China?

The report also claims that the Pentagon’s anti-vaccine propaganda was a response to China’s efforts to spread false information about the origins of COVID-19.

Although the virus first emerged in China in late 2019, the Chinese government claimed in March 2020 that it may have been first brought to China by a U.S. service member who participated in an international military sports competition in Wuhan last year. former.

Reuters also said Chinese officials suggested the virus could have originated at a US military research facility at Fort Detrick, Maryland, although there was no evidence to support these claims.

“Chinese intelligence agents created networks of fake social media accounts to promote the Fort Detrick conspiracy, according to a complaint from the US Department of Justice.

“China’s messages caught the attention of Washington. Trump later coined the term “China virus” in response to Beijing’s accusation that the US military exported COVID to Wuhan.

“That was false. And instead of arguing, I said, ‘I have to call it where it came from,’” Trump said at a news conference in March 2020. “It came from China,” the report said.

The Reuters investigation showed that the US anti-vaccine campaign spread beyond the Philippines to Central Asia and the Middle East.

In those areas, anti-vaccine publications claimed that Sinovac injections should be banned according to Islamic tradition because they may contain pork gelatin.

Although the operation began during the final year of the Trump administration, it continued for months after President Joe Biden took office.

X answers the query

According to the report, when contacted by Reuters about the accounts, X removed the profiles, “determining that they were part of a coordinated bot campaign based on activity patterns and internal data.”

Misinformation about vaccines

There is no suggestion in the report that the US campaign against Sinovac was directed at Nigeria. Even if it did, it would be inefficient. One of the first vaccines in Nigeria was the Sinovac vaccine. In 2021, the Chinese government donated 470,000 doses of the vaccine to Nigeria.

China made its donation about three months before the United States donated 3.5 million Pfizer vaccines to Nigeria. China’s vaccine also preceded doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the United Kingdom to Nigeria, Newslodgereported.

The Chinese at the time warned against misinformation, politicization of COVID-19 issues and blaming China for the outbreak.

“COVID-19 is a health problem. We need cooperation. “We need unity to overcome COVID-19.”

During the pandemic, there have been several false claims against vaccination in Nigeria, such as claims that it causes infertility or other long-term health problems.

There were conspiracy theories suggesting the vaccine was a tool for population control or contained harmful substances, further fueling distrust.

Social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter were used to amplify this misinformation, often through unverified sources or misleading videos, including those of influential politicians.

COVID-19 in Nigeria

Newslodgereported that Nigeria recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on February 27, 2020. By mid-2021, it had experienced multiple infections, with notable increases in cases.

As of July 2022, Nigeria had recorded 258,934 infections and more than 3,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

The country recorded 267,188 infections, 3,155 deaths and around 259,953 recovery cases. Kind regards,

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