Facebook on Thursday announced that it will begin taking down what it considers “misinformation” about COVID-19 vaccines as the immunizations appear set to begin within weeks.
The social media giant said in a blog post that it will remove posts containing what it deems false claims about “safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects” of any of the several COVID-19 vaccines.
“Given the recent news that COVID-19 vaccines will soon be rolling out around the world, over the coming weeks we will start removing false claims about these vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts on Facebook and Instagram. This is another way that we are applying our policy to remove misinformation about the virus that could lead to imminent physical harm. This could include false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients, or side effects of the vaccines,” the post said.
“For example, we will remove false claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips or anything else that isn’t on the official vaccine ingredient list.”
“We will also remove conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines that we know today are false: like specific populations are being used without their consent to test the vaccine’s safety. We will not be able to start enforcing these policies overnight. Since it’s early and facts about COVID-19 vaccines will continue to evolve, we will regularly update the claims we remove based on guidance from public health authorities as they learn more,” the post said.
Facebook has already been taking down what it considers misinformation about COVID-19 and, in October, banned ads that discourage the use of vaccines generally.
Biotech firm Moderna on Monday said it will ask the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve its experimental COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.
Moderna is the second pharmaceutical company to request a so-called emergency use authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 vaccine after Pfizer filed their application earlier this month. Moderna said new data showed the vaccine was 94.1% effective in its late-stage clinical trial, just under Pfizer’s efficacy rate of 95%. The Moderna vaccine was developed in conjunction with the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed.
“We believe that our vaccine will provide a new and powerful tool that may change the course of this pandemic and help prevent severe disease, hospitalizations, and death,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement. Bancel said last week that 20 million doses will be available by the end of the year.
The FDA’s vaccine advisory committee is set to meet on December 17 to review data from the two companies.
Meanwhile, a third vaccine is also in the pipeline. AstraZeneca and Oxford University last Monday said their jointly created COVID-19 vaccine has proven to be up to 90% effective and the makers claim it will be easier to distribute.
“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives,” said Oxford University professor Andrew Pollard, who served as the lead investigator for the drug’s trials. “Because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunization distribution system. And so our goal … to make sure that we have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere, I think we’ve actually managed to do that.”
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