Canada and the UK will work with Facebook, Google, and Twitter on ways to stop misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine from spreading online.
British fact checking charity Full Fact will coordinate the effort. Fact checking websites based in India, Argentina, and Spain will convene alongside the tech companies and federal representatives from the UK and Canada.
Facebook will fund the effort until the group launches an initial framework in January 2021, which will “set out standards of accountability” for stopping misinformation, and come up with ways to respond to “bad information” online.
Scientists around the world are trying to speed the development of a COVID-19 vaccine as the disease continues to spread. The US recorded a 250,000 deaths from COVID-19, and many parts of Europe are under lockdown.
Moderna and Pfizer recently said their experimental vaccines were 94.5% and 95% effective against COVID-19, respectively, in preliminary analysis of late-stage testing. The two are expected to ask the Food and Drug Administration for authorization on emergency use this week.
US health officials said they aim to give the vaccine to vulnerable groups by the end of the year, but many Americans are skeptic of a vaccine. In a survey of 1,000 adults in May, the Associated Press found one in five Americans don’t plan on getting a vaccine, while half said they would. The rest said they were not sure.
Getting the majority of Americans vaccinated is crucial to developing herd immunity. Dr. Anthony Fauci said roughly 80% of the country would need to be vaccinated by fall 2021, in order to get “close to some degree of normality.”
The US government is not participating in Full Fact’s coordinated effort to stop vaccine misinformation.
“A coronavirus vaccine is now potentially just months away,” Will Moy, Full Fact chief executive, said in a release. “But a wave of related bad information could undermine trust in medicine when it matters most and prolong this pandemic.”
During the pandemic, misinformation about public health guidelines spread on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media sites. Facebook and Youtube have been slow to remove content that promotes false claims about COVID-19 treatment, and prominent figures like President Donald Trump and Elon Musk have posted misleading tweets regarding the disease.