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China Boosts Conspiracy Theories About Covid Origin And Vaccines | India News

TAIPEI: Chinese state media has stoked concerns about Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, despite rigorous testing indicating that it is safe. A government spokesman has raised the unsubstantiated theory that the coronavirus could have emerged from a US military laboratory, giving it more credibility in China.
As the ruling Communist Party faces growing questioning about China’s vaccines and renewed criticism of its initial response to Covid-19, it is fighting back by encouraging conspiracy theories that some experts say could cause harm.
The media and state officials are casting doubt on Western vaccines and the origin of the coronavirus in an apparent attempt to deflect the attacks. Both issues are in the spotlight due to the global launch of vaccines and the recent arrival of a team from the World Health Organization in Wuhan, China, to investigate the origins of the virus.
Some of these conspiracy theories find a receptive audience at home. The social media hashtag “American’s Ft. Detrick,” started by the Communist Youth League, was viewed at least 1.4 billion times last week after a Foreign Ministry spokesperson called for a WHO investigation of the biological weapons laboratory in Maryland.
“Its purpose is to shift the blame for the mismanagement by the Chinese government in the early days of the pandemic to the US conspiracy,” said Fang Shimin, a writer now residing in the United States known for exposing fake titles and other frauds. in Chinese science. . “The tactic is quite successful because of the widespread anti-American sentiment in China.”
Yuan Zeng, a Chinese media expert at the University of Leeds in Britain, said the government’s stories were so widely circulated that even well-educated Chinese friends asked if they could be true.
Inflating doubts and spreading conspiracy theories could increase public health risks as governments try to dispel unease over vaccines, he said, saying, “That’s super, super dangerous.”
In the latest barrage, state media called for an investigation into the death of 23 elderly people in Norway after receiving the Pfizer vaccine. An anchor for CGTN, the English-language station of the state broadcaster CCTV, and the Global Times newspaper accused Western media of ignoring the news.
Health experts say non-vaccine related deaths are possible during mass vaccination campaigns, and a WHO panel has concluded that the vaccine did not play a “contributing role” in the Norwegian deaths.
State media coverage followed a report by researchers in Brazil who found that the effectiveness of a Chinese vaccine was lower than previously announced. The researchers initially said that the Sinovac vaccine is 78% effective, but the scientists revised it to 50.4% after including mildly symptomatic cases.
Following the news from Brazil, researchers from the Australian Institute for Strategic Policy, a government-supported think tank, reported seeing an increase in misinformation from the Chinese media about vaccines.
Dozens of articles online on popular health and science blogs and elsewhere have explored questions about the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine in depth, building on an opinion piece published this month in the British Medical Journal that raised questions about data from your clinical trials.
“It is very embarrassing” for the government, Fang said in an email. As a result, China is trying to cast doubt on the Pfizer vaccine to save face and promote its vaccines, he said.
Senior Chinese government officials have not been shy about expressing concern about mRNA vaccines developed by Western pharmaceutical companies. They use newer technology than the more traditional approach to the Chinese vaccines currently in use.
In December, the director of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, said he cannot rule out the negative side effects of mRNA vaccines. Noting that this is the first time they have been given to healthy people, he said that “ there are safety concerns. ”
Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine and another one developed by Moderna have undergone both animal and human tests in which they were tested in more than 70,000 people.
The arrival of the WHO mission has brought back persistent criticism that China allowed the virus to spread globally by reacting too slowly at first, even berating doctors who tried to warn the public. Visiting researchers will begin fieldwork this week after being released from a 14-day quarantine.
The Communist Party views the WHO investigation as a political risk because it focuses attention on China’s response, said Jacob Wallis, a senior analyst at the Australian Institute for Strategic Policy.
The party wants to “distract the national and international public by preemptively distorting the narrative on where the responsibility for the emergence of Covid-19 lies,” Wallis said.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying got the ball rolling last week by reviving earlier Chinese requests for a WHO investigation of the US military laboratory.
State media have referenced past scandals in the lab, but China has not provided reliable evidence to back up the coronavirus theory.
“If the United States respects the truth, then open Ft. Detrick and make public more information about the 200 or more biological labs outside the US, and allow the WHO expert group to go to the US. To investigate the origins. ” Hua said.
His comments, publicized by state media, became one of the most popular topics on China’s Twitter, Sina Weibo.
China is not the only government pointing the finger. Former US President Donald Trump, trying to deflect blame for his administration’s handling of the pandemic, said last year that he had seen evidence that the virus came from a Wuhan laboratory. While that theory has not been definitively ruled out, many experts believe it is unlikely.

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