CHINA is spreading anti-vaccination conspiracies about the Pfizer coronavirus jab using its state-run media to suggest it might kill people.
It comes after Norwegian health authorities said there was no direct link between the vaccine and the deaths of 33 elderly people.
China is spreading misleading information about the Pfizer jabCredit: The Press Association
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao retweeted posts linking the Pfzier vaccine to deaths
Chinese state media is seizing upon the chance to spread misinformation about the vaccine as its rolled out in nations around the world, including Britain.
Communist Party-owned newspaper The Global Times and state-controlled television network CGTN have both been found by The Sun Online to be playing up fears over the Covid jab.
And while attempting to rubbish the Pfizer vaccine – which is due to be given to 40million people the UK – it also seizes the chance to play up China’s own vaccine, CoronaVac.
CoronaVac however was found to just be 50.4 per cent effective in a recent study in Brazil, while Pfzier’s jab is said to be 95 per cent effective.
The Global Times reported on January 15 that the vaccine should be suspended from use worldwide due to its “safety uncertainties”.
The piece included a warning the jab may contain “toxic substances”.
It claimed the vaccine was developed “in haste” and said its “safety had not been confirmed for large-scale use in humans”.
And another report on January 15 from accused Western media of being “silent” on the “potential risk” of the Pfizer vaccine rather than the “more solid foundation” of China’s jab.
Experts told The Sun Online this is a disturbing twist for China as it continues its efforts to play up its own handling of the pandemic and shift blame.
This disinformation around Covid-19 is not merely an attempt by Beijing to muddy the water in order to absolve itself of responsibility for the outbreak.
“This really does mark a significant uptick in China’s propaganda war,” Professor Anthony Glees, from the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham, told The Sun Online.
“We’ve always known that under Xi, the natural reaction of the Chinese govt when faced with serious questions about its actions has been to double down and up the ante.
“But to use fake news and fan fears about the Pfizer vaccine would take all this up a notch because it would demonstrate a readiness to undermine and subvert all European nations in particular, to sow confusion, and exploit our current weakness to China’s advantage.”
Chinese state media has published a slew of reports in the wake of the reports from Norway as it appears to try and discredit the jab.
Medical workers in China get people to sign consent forms for Covid-19 jabsCredit: Alamy Live News
What happened in Norway?
NORWAY has found no “direct link
All of those who died were care home patients over the age of 80, and were already sick, the Norwegian Medicines Agency said.
Medical director Dr Steinar Madsen said today: “Clearly, Covid-19 is more dangerous to most patients than vaccination.
“We are not alarmed. All of these patients had serious underlying illnesses. We can’t say that people die from the vaccine.
“We can say that it may be coincidental. It is difficult to prove that it’s the vaccine which is the direct cause.”
Dr Madsen said Norway had “more or less” vaccinated all patients in nursing homes, and that those who died after receiving the vaccine made up “well under one out of 1,000”.
Norway had only been using the vaccine provided by Pfizer and BioNTech, however the Moderna vaccine was introduced last Friday.
A spokesperson for Pfizer said: “Norwegian authorities have prioritised the immunisation of residents in nursing homes, most of whom are very elderly with underlying medical conditions and some which are terminally ill.
“The Norwegian Medicine Agency confirms the number of incidents so far is not alarming, and in line with expectations.
“All reported deaths will be thoroughly evaluated by [the agency] to determine if these incidents are related to the vaccine.
“The Norwegian government will also consider adjusting their vaccination instructions to take the patients’ health into more consideration.”
The Global Times quoted an anonymous expert on January 17 who claimed China’s vaccine has “no questions” – and the report later dismissed reports about its effectiveness as a “smear”.
And in a piece on January 16 was written by the newspaper’s editor Hu Xijin, a member of the Communist Party, in which claimed reports that the deaths were not related to the vaccine are “questionable”.
Liu Xin, an anchor of China’s state run CGTN, also tweeted a report that ten people had died in Germany after receiving the Pfzier vaccine.
It has already been confirmed those deaths were not related to the jab.
“Can’t independently verify but it’s concerning: 10 dead in Germany within days after receiving Pfizer & BioNTech #vaccines. What about following it up? Hello???,” she wrote.
Lijian Zhao, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, even retweeted her post to his nearly 900,000 followers without any additional clarification.
He also retweeted other posts from Xin moaning about a lack coverage of the Norway deaths.
And then a Global Times article on January 13 suggested the Pfzier vaccine may actually only be 19 per cent effective.
Professor Glees told The Sun Online that it appears China is using Covid as a “political weapon” – and added: “That would never be forgotten or forgiven, nor should it.”
The string of articles over the last week challenged the Pfizer vaccine
China appears to be trying to promote its CoronaVac jab
Chinese media called for use of Pfizer’s jab to be suspended worldwide
Conspiracy theories about vaccines have become a major blight as the world attempts to come to grips with the pandemic which has killed more than two million people.
Protests of conspiracy theorists – many of whom are also anti-lockdown and anti-mask – have become common in many nations as infections continue surge.
The EU last year accused China and Russia of spreading misinformation about the virus in “targeted influence operations”.
It was warned the pandemic shows ” false information could do serious harm, could kill citizens” – and Britain’s information warfare unit has been deployed help fight against the fake news.
‘NOT IN GOOD FAITH’
Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, chair in cognitive psychology at the University of Bristol, who has recently put together a handbook about how to accurately talk about vaccines, told The Sun Online that China is not “acting in good faith”.
He said: “They are competitive relationship in with Western countries, and this is something they will use to throw sand in our face.”
Prof Lewandowsky added: “This is state actors trying to cast aspersions on the competition.
“It’s incredible when you think about it, we have a global pandemic and these people have nothing better to do than to use it for their own purposes.”
Gray Sergeant, a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, told The Sun Online: “These stories will only further the Global Time’s reputation for sensationalism but it should be remember that we have heard similar things from Communist Party officials themselves.
“This disinformation around Covid-19 is not merely an attempt by Beijing to muddy the water in order to absolve itself of responsibility for the outbreak.
“It also fits into a wider narrative being pushed which stresses western decline and the superiority of the Chinese model.
“The Chinese Communist Party wants China to be seen as a global leader by the rest of the world.”
China has faced many questions over how it has handled the pandemic as it has been accused of covering up vital information as the virus first emerged in Wuhan.
It is facing renewed international scrutiny as a team of scientists from WHO arrived to begin investigating the origins of Covid.
Meanwhile, some 300 coronavirus studies by the Wuhan lab have been erased as there fears China may have sough to stall investigators.
Documents already revealed Beijing downplayed the bug to “protect its image“, and there have been repeated allegations that China has manipulated its figures.
The US is also continuing to push the suggestion that Covid may have escaped in a lab leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV)
China has repeatedly denied the allegations and has recently been attempting to deflect blame, suggesting “global outbreaks” may be behind the pandemic.
Reports emerged this week suggesting a scientist from WIV may have been “patient zero“, and she has not been heard from for 12 months.
China now claims to have mostly returned to normal since the pandemic, with scenes of packed nightclubs, theme parks and sports games now common again.
Britain today recorded its highest daily death toll since the start out the outbreak, with 1,610 people losing their lives.
China’s use of misinformation also appears to spread beyond the pandemic, with the Communist Party believed to have spread division in the US following the election.