Anti-vaccine groups still thriving on chat apps despite social media crackdown

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a "Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — With nearly 82 per cent of Malaysia’s adult population fully vaccinated for Covid-19, attention is turning to parts of the country that are still holding out against the vaccines.

Like many other countries, Malaysia has small but vocal groups opposed to Covid-19 vaccines, thanks to social media that has made it easier for such individuals to find one another.

With platforms such as Facebook and Twitter cracking down on anti-vaccination sentiments, however, such groups and individuals have turned to messaging services such as Telegram and WhatsApp, which are effectively unmoderated, to continue sharing their opposition.

On Telegram, for instance, a simple search using phrases such as “anti vaksin” and “anti vaxx” results in a plethora of groups discussing such themes.

Participants in such groups typically share information on alternative medicines as well as clips of doctors and medical experts from around the world that back this rejection of vaccines or support off-label treatments of medication such as Ivermectin.

Ivermectin is a livestock dewormer that some insist can treat Covid-19 infection but that medical authorities worldwide were intentionally suppressing this information in favour of vaccines.

Malay Mail found groups with over 60,000 subscribers, including one purporting that mRNA Covid-19 vaccines contained graphene oxide in their lipid nanoparticles.

This group’s profile page said to “Support and protect yourself from 5G — WiFi radiation poisoning”, on the basis that graphene oxide can react to 5G telecommunication signals.

Graphene oxide is a chemical that consists of carbon and oxygen atoms. When oxygen is removed from the compound, what is left is a pure carbon material called graphene, often described as a wonder material because of its strength and electronic properties.

Graphene oxide easily dissolves in water, while it also has known toxic effects on cells and organisms, but this depends on the dose used and how it is administered. All reputable medical associations have said none of the current vaccines administered worldwide have this chemical in it.

Malaysia is now beginning to vaccinate adolescents aged 12 to 17 years’ old and the government has also approved booster shots for high-risk groups that could begin as early as October.

Many of the groups Malay Mail found insist that the vaccines were extremely harmful to minors, including one purporting to have discovered a “cure” for Covid-19 that, coincidentally, could also work for a host of other chronic ailments.

The group promoting this universal cure included posts linking to articles and YouTube videos supposedly of doctors from South America giving testimonials to the efficacy of this “miracle” cure not just for Covid-19 but also other diseases.

Other posts typically included requests for instructions to use this universal cure, followed by the administrators’ replies with these.

Aside from promoting the miracle solution, users in such groups typically expressed hostility towards vaccination as well as restrictions imposed against the unvaccinated.

Some users in the group with over 4,000 members expressed suspicions over the vaccines’ long-term effects while others purported that it was against their religion to be vaccinated.

Yet another group with over 5,000 subscribers was not against Covid-19 vaccines per se but espoused views that alternative treatments were more effective. Again, this heavily promoted the Ivermectin livestock dewormer.

Among materials here included videos discussing the superiority of Ivermectin over vaccines, which featured a former factory supervisor that has since been charged with spreading fake news that a policeman died as a result of Covid-19 vaccination.

The discussions were premised on claims that studies were intentionally biased against Ivermectin as well as arguments against vaccination because they did not prevent infection.

Some posters went as far as wishing death upon government leaders that make vaccination mandatory.

One group with over 20,000 subscribers featured information purportedly of fully vaccinated people who still died from Covid-19.

This group did not have many posts with opinions and most included messages that claimed to be of a dead Covid-19 patient’s vaccination record and their supposed deterioration.

This group was mirrored by a smaller one that also focused on sharing such information, albeit from other countries and primarily sourced from social media entries.

Malaysia set a blistering rate of over 500,000 daily vaccinations in August as part of the country’s push to vaccinate the entire adult population by October, but this has begun to slow as most willing recipients have already received at least one dose.

This has led authorities to begin shifting their focus to sections of the country that were hesitant towards vaccination or were outrightly opposed.

Covid-19 vaccination remains voluntary in Malaysia but authorities have increasingly made full vaccination a requirement to regain many of the freedoms previously curtailed as part of efforts to control the pandemic locally.

Source: Malay Mail


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more

Related Posts