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RECOMMENDED READING: “Chinese and Russian Influence Campaigns Risk Undermining Covid-19 Vaccination Programs”

February 8th, 2021 13:24

An Aus­tralian think-tank has pub­lished a short report on Chi­nese and Russ­ian influ­ence cam­paigns aimed at under­min­ing Covid-19 vac­ci­na­tion pro­grams. The Aus­tralian Strate­gic Pol­i­cy Insti­tute report begins:

As the world bets on vac­cines as a way out of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, vac­cine can­di­dates have quick­ly become a vehi­cle for nation­al influ­ence. Chi­na, Rus­sia and India, for exam­ple, are each quick to pub­licly cel­e­brate, through tra­di­tion­al media and offi­cial social media accounts, every new coun­try that signs up to use their vac­cines. Sto­ries are often pro­mot­ed that empha­sise the safe­ty and afford­abil­i­ty of coun­tries’ vac­cines. How­ev­er, as vac­cine-pro­duc­ing coun­tries jos­tle for mar­ket share and polit­i­cal lever­age for their prod­ucts, some are pre­pared to resort to dis­rup­tive or decep­tive tac­tics. The bat­tle over vac­cine nar­ra­tives has led to online influ­ence and dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns that aim to mis­lead or to ampli­fy poten­tial­ly neg­a­tive news about rival vac­cine can­di­dates with­out prop­er con­text. Such behav­iour could erode pub­lic trust and vac­cine uptake, delay­ing glob­al efforts to erad­i­cate the dis­ease and recov­er from the severe social, polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic dam­age caused by the pan­dem­ic. Rus­sia report­ed­ly went so far as to launch a covert dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign in 2020 designed to tar­get and dis­cred­it the AstraZeneca/Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty vac­cine. And already this year, both Chi­nese and Russ­ian state media and offi­cial social media accounts have ampli­fied unfavourable report­ing about the Pfiz­er vaccine.

Read the rest here.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed last month that pro-Krem­lin media are try­ing to gen­er­ate sup­port for the Russ­ian Sput­nik V COVID vac­cine by shift­ing its dis­in­for­ma­tion nar­ra­tives. We also report­ed around the same time on a CNN analyst’s view of Russ­ian efforts to spread COVID-relat­ed disinformation.