Tests to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus continue. - Ted S. Warren / AP / SIPA

  • As scientists progress in developing a vaccine, vaccine opponents are already claiming that it will be ineffective and dangerous.
  • In recent weeks, the "anti-tax" offensive has been organized and gaining momentum on social networks, through Facebook groups and viral videos.
  • "These groups play on the inconsistencies of certain doctors or scientists to stir up fear in people", explain the Vaxxers, who fight against the disinformation around the vaccine.

While the development of a vaccine is considered a major issue in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, many French people are now expressing their reluctance to be vaccinated against the virus. Nearly 32% of them even say that they will not be vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a survey carried out on July 24 by the YouGov * institute. Among them, a hard core is categorically opposed to the marketing of a vaccine, going so far as to disseminate conspiracy theories on the Internet.

Since deconfinement, several unreliable sites have warned against a vaccine that could, according to them, kill more people than the Covid-19. "One site thus distorted a quote from Bill Gates to advance this theory, while another took up the Plandemic video, riddled with conspiracy theories", explains to 20 Minutes Chine Labbé, in charge of the Europe pole at NewsGuard, an organization specializing in pre-bunking. Internet sites, viral videos, but also Facebook groups and petitions, the anti-ax [vaccine opponents] offensive is being organized and has been gaining momentum in recent weeks on social networks.

"Rather die than inject me with this crap!" "

On Facebook, several groups are showing a firm position against a possible widespread distribution of a vaccine. On one of them, “No Au Vaccin Covid 19”, which has just over 1,100 members, Internet users openly criticize the research in progress, basing their attacks on alternative media articles and videos, while criticizing authorities' supposed lies about the pandemic. "Rather die than inject me with this crap!" My health is priceless, ”explains a user in a post. “The vaccine will kill us all” or “This is all just a government plot” can also be read on this Facebook page.

Many other groups, which express their opposition to vaccination more generally, relay the same conspiratorial information, and YouTube videos viewed hundreds of thousands of times. Like the one broadcast on May 5 in which YouTuber Thierry Casasnovas and controversial Swiss doctor Christian Tal Schaller explain that vaccination against the coronavirus is "a colossal mistake". Some go beyond simple mistrust, for example by signing a petition. The call for signatures entitled "No compulsory vaccination against Covid-19!" ", Which warns against" the general risks of vaccines and more specific anti-coronavirus vaccines ", has already collected more than 7,000 signatures.

New workhorse for pro-Raoults

Traditional anti-tax vehicles can also count on new relays. After fiercely supporting the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, Professor Raoult's supporters on Facebook have found a new battle in the fight against the vaccine. A large part of them - they would be more than 1.1 million registered on nearly 90 public and private Facebook pages - today denounce the idea of ​​a serum against Covid-19. As the Jean Jaurès foundation demonstrated in a study published on July 15, 89% of the members of these Facebook groups subscribe to the idea that "the Ministry of Health is in cahoots with the pharmaceutical industry to hide from the general public the reality of the harmfulness of vaccines ”.

# Study l 📊🔍 Antoine Bristielle (@A_Bristielle) unveils in full, for the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, the results of his survey on the support of professor #Raoult ➡️ https://t.co/SSK2sUyR73 pic.twitter.com/ IQTzFuTHRo

- Jean-Jaurès Foundation (@j_jaures) July 15, 2020

"A vaccine would be completely useless, but will not fail to be imposed on the population to serve the interests of a handful of powerful", explains to 20 Minutes  Pierre, regular contributor to the Facebook page "All with Professor Didier Raoult »(32,000 members). Same story with Nicolas, a thirty-something registered on the group "Didier Raoult vs coronavirus" (460,000 members), for whom a vaccine would only be "to allow companies to lay off more people and to make the conditions of employment more flexible. job ".

Conspiracy theories which, according to NewsGuard, seem to be winning over more and more people. “As the pandemic transforms and changes our lives, so too is false information transforming and adapting to the new reality. Poll results show that people continue to take clearly false allegations seriously despite the dire lack of evidence, ”laments the organization.

The antivaxes play on "the inconsistencies" of the government and certain scientists

Several factors now explain this mistrust, and the proliferation of conspiracy theories. “These Facebook pages are surfing the fear of the unknown. Covid-19 is a new disease. Discoveries about the virus follow one after another, and people are confused. Government decisions have varied, which gives the impression, when a statement is not given in the context of knowledge and the material situation at the time it is made, of serious inconsistency. Whereas it was inevitable that these decisions would evolve according to the appearance of new data. The typical example is the instructions about masks, ” Les Vaxxeuses, a Facebook group made up of volunteer scientists, who fights against disinformation conveyed by antivaxes , explains to 20 Minutes .

The studies about the treatment of the disease, sometimes contradictory, have also caused a great deal of misunderstanding. “The clumsiness, even downright unacceptable lack of rigor, of certain doctors or scientists, gave the impression that a treatment was available, when this is not the case. The antivax took advantage of it and played on these inconsistencies, stoking fears about the disease, and aligned the lies as they know so well, to speak to people's fears, as well as their rejection of the political class. Nothing new, it's their tactics at each new opportunity, ”said the Vaxxeuses. To limit these reactions of incomprehension, "it would have been necessary that there was much more pedagogy and adapted communication on the part of the mainstream media", adds the collective, which deplores that many media were satisfied "to post and to comment on the figures of victims and the punchy statements of media figures ”.

By the Web

He would have created the virus, planned the vaccination ... Bill Gates brushes aside the conspiracy theories accusing him of being at the origin of the Covid-19

High Tech

Like Pinterest and YouTube, Facebook is hunting down anti-vaccine messages

* The survey was carried out for HuffPost on 1,023 people representative of the French national population aged 18 and over, according to the quota method, on July 23 and 24, 2020.

  • Fake off
  • Social networks
  • Conspiracy theory
  • Vaccine
  • Coronavirus
  • By the Web
  • Facebook
  • Didier Raoult