The BBC fails to offer a balanced debate with no analysis of claims made by the Doctors with a pure propaganda hit piece, thankfully oraclefilms has a wonderful message for viewers of BBC Panorama-Ed
Activists have been targeting people with fears about vaccines in a social media blitz. In an experiment, BBC Panorama showed a panel one video filled with falsehoods to see how it affected their willingness to get a jab.
In a sleepy suburb of Norwich, 83-year-old Rosemary opens a WhatsApp message from a relative.
It contains a video called Ask the Experts.
The clip features people with impressive medical and scientific titles based in the UK, US, Spain and Sweden.
Some allege, contrary to the evidence, that Covid-19 vaccines are unsafe, that they can alter a person’s DNA – and even that the pandemic is somehow not real.
Rosemary is frightened – and suddenly unsure about whether she’ll get vaccinated.
“It sounded so real and the people were so plausible and they were named as clinicians and doctors,” she says.
With the majority of the elderly and at-risk groups having had their jabs, the next big challenge for the government is to vaccinate everyone else in the UK.
Most people say they want a jab, but the latest anti-vaccine tactics deployed by a committed minority seek to exploit people’s nervousness.
Rosemary is just one of millions exposed to tactics used by anti-vaccine activists – a loose collection of people who make a variety of claims about vaccines, including suggesting they are dangerous and a form of state control.
Over the course of 27 minutes, the Ask the Experts video relentlessly introduces 33 people, many brandishing their credentials, often sitting in what look like medical consultation rooms.
They confidently and calmly repeat similar messages – although many of the claims are misleading or just plain untrue.
Rosemary was left shocked as these people – who looked similar to the doctors she would usually turn to for sound advice – said that Covid-19 was “not a real medical pandemic”, that vaccines alter your DNA, that they cause infertility and that they’re part of a deliberate global plan to hurt people.
She’s not alone in being scared by the video.
One London council has issued a warning after the Ask The Experts video started circulating in Asian and black communities.
These groups have been disproportionately affected by coronavirus – and there are indications that some ethnic minority groups have a higher level of reluctance when it comes to Covid-19 vaccines.
“The fact that they are targeting it at those communities will mean that there will be people who die as a result of not having the vaccine,” says Westminster council leader Rachael Robathan.
Despite being removed from YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, it’s been claimed that Ask the Experts has been seen more than 250,000 times.
It’s gone viral on WhatsApp and its producers have been asking for donations via PayPal.
Social media boom
The video is just one part of an online anti-vaccine blitz.
Exclusive research by BBC Monitoring has found a huge increase in followers of social media accounts promoting anti-vaccine material during the pandemic.
These aren’t accounts asking legitimate medical questions – but people and organisations who’ve already made up their minds against vaccinations, and are manufacturing evidence or twisting facts to support their conclusions.
On Instagram, the number of followers of major anti-vaccination accounts increased nearly five-fold in 2020, to more than four million.