The liberal press (at least the Guardian and the Independent) have been running a campaign of official misinformation about coronavirus vaccines in the UK.
- Both papers have routinely been referring to the millions of people who have been vaccinated in the UK. At times they repeat government lies without criticism as in this example. At times they incorporate the faked claims about the numbers “vaccinated” directly as in this Guardian editorial. This is government misinformation. The vast majority of the people included in these figures have received the first shot of a two dose vaccination. They therefore cannot be said to have been “vaccinated”. Period. In the case of the Pfizer vaccine the second dose has been postponed by many weeks – in an untested and rogue deviation from the manufacturer’s tested regime and against the advice of the WHO and BMA. The efficacy of a single shot of Pfizer after 3 weeks was not part of the Stage 3 trials. No one actually knows what efficacy a single shot might have though initial data from Israel is not encouraging.  These people have not by any stretched of the imagination been “vaccinated”. We would expect the government to lie. It is disturbing to see the media acting much as say Chinese state media does – echoing the official line even if the line is 2+2=5. (Or half a vaccine = a whole vaccine).
- Recently a report emerged in the German press that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is ineffective in older people. This is consistent with the results of the stage 3 trials for this vaccine which showed 62% in one group and 90% in a second.  At the time of release the producers tried to spin a story that the higher result was due to an unexpected and “serendipitous” event – one of the doses had been lower and in some kind of supposed miracle a lower dose leads to higher efficacy.  It subsequently turned out that that the group with the higher efficacy result had excluded people over 55 – a rather more prosaic and likely explanation.  The Guardian story which refers to the German media reports has the headline: “Why experts say there is no basis to claims in Germany about efficacy of AstraZeneca vaccine”. Very interestingly the article carries the footnote: “This article was amended on 26 January 2021. A previous headline did not sufficiently convey the conclusions of the article and, if read without the context of the text, had the potential to be misunderstood”. It looks like someone (the government? AstraZeneca?) had been onto them and told them to bury the story. However news today is that the German regulator has specifically said they cannot recommend using the vaccine on people aged over 64.  Presumably the Robert Koch Institute in Germany can be considered “expert”. The story in the German press which the Guardian tried to shoot down on someone’s instructions turns out to be true. The Guardian does publish this new information (you could hardly hide it) but I don’t see them admitting their former mistake anywhere.
In both cases the media is producing vaccine propaganda. The danger of this approach is that people will suss it and this will undermine credibility in the vaccines – which obviously do have value even if not (in the case of AstraZeneca) the value the authors claim for it. Essentially this vaccine propaganda has about as much respect for truth as the messages of the “anti-vaxxers”.