Ramaphosa: ‘Vaccine fake news is putting lives at risk’
President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted that government is faced with an uphill battle in fighting the spread of Covid-19 and rampant vaccine fake news.
Vaccine fake news threatens efforts to fight Covid-19
Countless chain messages are passed on social media on a daily basis, warning people to avoid getting vaccinated. Some claim that the vaccine is a ruse used by the world’s 1%, apparently led by billionaire Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, to exterminate three billion people.
Others believe the vaccine doses are laced with microchips that track every living human being using 5G technology.
Without any significant scientific evidence supporting these wild claims, many people have eaten this fake news up and consequently developed a level of mistrust towards the government.
A voice note that has done the rounds on WhatsApp claims that Ramaphosa was placed as head of state after former president Jacob Zuma refused to sell ‘his people’ over to Satanists who are on a mission to kill billions with the vaccine.
Ramaphosa: Govt will ramp up educational comms on vaccine
This scale of fearmongering has hampered efforts in increasing the public’s confidence in Covid-19 vaccination, Ramaphosa warned in his weekly mailer.
With the first phase of the vaccination drive due to take off in South Africa, the president worryingly reflected on the uphill battle of fending off fake news that awaits.
“All of us need to be part of this national effort and not allow the spread of rumours, fear and mistrust. False information and fake news can and does put lives at risk,” Ramaphosa warned.
To play its part, the government will escalate its communications campaign on vaccine education in a bid “to challenge many of the misconceptions in circulation.”
“For its part, government will work to improve all its channels of communication, to keep the public regularly informed on the development of the vaccination programme, to provide information that is accurate and factual, and to continue to engage with and listen to the broad range of voices in our society,” Ramaphosa said.
The first influx of doses is expected to arrive in South Africa in January and healthcare workers are first in line to be vaccinated. Thus far, South Africa has secured more than 20 million doses of the vaccine, with millions more in the pipeline, Ramaphosa confirmed.