Nine out of ten people WOULD get a coronavirus vaccine but are 6.4% LESS likely after reading anti-vaxxer fake news online
- Two studies assessed the public perception towards a coronavirus vaccine
- Found that around 90 per cent of people are inclined to get the vaccine
- Misinformation spread online reduces likelihood of people getting vaccine
- Slashed amount of Britons who would definitely get vaccine from 54% to 47.6%
Misinformation spread by anti-vaxx conspiracy theorists makes people less likely to get a coronavirus vaccine when one is available, a study has found.
A survey of 4,000 Britons found exposure to misinformation on social media decreases the amount of people willing to get the jab by 6.4 per cent.
The same study replicated in the US reveals Americans are less susceptible to fake news, with misinformation triggering only a 2.4 per cent drop in vaccine uptake. However, the initial level for vaccine uptake is 12 per cent lower than in the UK.
A separate study, published yesterday, quizzed 1,252 English parents and guardians and found 89.3 per cent of people would either ‘definitely’ get the vaccine or were ‘unsure but leaning towards yes’.
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One of the most potent pieces of misinformation (pictured) was a post claiming a mRNA vaccine, a regularly-used technique and the one used by Pfizer, will cause a person’s DNA to mutate. This is not only untrue, but physically impossible. It was effective despite being falsified because it looked convincing and’like it came out a textbook’, scientists say
Participants were shown five examples of misinformation, including claims 5G caused Covid-19, that the pandemic is a conspiracy or a bioweapon developed by Bill Gates
Both studies were conducted by experts at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
Professor Pauline Paterson, Co-Director of The Vaccine Confidence Project, found BAME individuals were almost three times more likely to reject the vaccine than white people.
The other major group of people to be more likely to reject a vaccine is people who have a lower household income.
The study, published in the journal Vaccine, found people with a household income of less than £35,000 were approximately twice as likely to reject a vaccine.
But the most wealthy, people in a household with more than £85,000 in income a year, were three times as likely to say yes than the middle bracket.
Dr Paterson said: ‘While it is great to see that most parents and guardians would accept a COVID-19 vaccine, our research has revealed worrying disparities.
‘We know ethnic minority and lower-income groups are disproportionally affected by COVID-19, so it’s imperative that health officials focus on strategies to boost vaccine confidence in these communities.’
Professor Heidi Larson quizzed 8,000 people on their vaccine beliefs and found a similar breakdown in the amount of deniers and advocates.
In her study 54 per cent of Britons said they would ‘definitely’ accept a vaccine whereas for the other study this figure was 55 per cent.
Her research, which is currently available as a non-peer reviewed pre-print, then showed prominent examples of misinformation to 3,000 Britons and 3,000 Americans.
A thousand participants on either side of the Atlantic were given accurate information from legitimate sources.
A separate study, published yesterday, quizzed 1,252 English parents and guardians and found 89.3 per cent of people would either ‘definitely’ get the vaccine or were ‘unsure but leaning towards yes’
Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine is ‘90% effective’
One of the leading coronavirus vaccine candidates has proven to be 90 per cent effective, marking a major breakthrough in the global race to stop the disease.
Pfizer and BioNTech today said that early results from a massive clinical trial suggest nine out of 10 people who get their jab are protected from coronavirus by it.
In an update on progress in the ongoing study, the pharmaceutical companies said that of 94 people infected with the virus so far, at least 86 of them had been in the placebo group.
The placebo group is one in which people are given a fake vaccine so that what happens to them can be compared with those who get the real thing. Pfizer’s trial has split the participants half and half across the placebo and vaccine groups.
The company’s chairman hailed the breakthrough a ‘great day for science’ while independent experts said the results are ‘excellent’ and ‘really impressive’.
The fake news online dramatically knocked confidence in vaccines and the likelihood to accept one.
The data shows misinformation led to a decline in the willingness to receive a Covid-19 jab, when one is available, from 54 per cent to 47.6 per cent in the UK and from 41.2 per cent to 38.8 per cent in the US.
Misinformation dressed up to look like it was from a scientific source was the most effective form of propaganda, the study reveals.
Participants were shown five examples including claims 5G caused Covid-19, that the pandemic is a conspiracy or a bioweapon, and that vaccine participants have died after taking a candidate COVID-19 vaccine – none of which are true.
Professor Heidi Larson from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and study lead said: ‘COVID-19 vaccines will be crucial to helping to end this pandemic and returning our lives to near normal.
‘However, vaccines only work if people take them. Misinformation plays into existing anxieties and uncertainty around new vaccines, as well as the new platforms that are being used to develop them.
‘This threatens to undermine the levels of COVD-19 vaccine acceptance required.’
The main issues cited by vaccine-hesitant individuals focus on the safety of the vaccine, with people worried its rapid development will lead to health problems.
One of the most potent pieces of misinformation was a post claiming a mRNA vaccine, a regularly-used technique and the one used by Pfizer, will cause a person’s DNA to mutate.
This is not only untrue, but physically impossible due to the different structure and role of the two types of genetic material.
‘The post had an image of mRNA and DNA and it looked like it could have been in a scientific textbook but the conclusion it claims is that you will become a genetically modified human being,’ Professor Larson explains.
‘This was more effective than image of Bill Gates holding a needle looking with dark glasses and doesn’t look like it came out of a scientific textbook.
‘In a number of cases we know who makes the posts and some are highly public. We picked the ones that are the most frequently shown.’
DNA AND RNA EXPLAINED: THE MOLECULES THAT CONTAIN THE GENETIC INFORMATION FOR LIFE
DNA – deoxyribonucleic acid – is widely known as the molecule found in the nucleus of all our cells that contains genetic information.
It is shaped like a double-helix and made of small sections called nucleotides.
Each nucleotide contains a nucleobase, a sugar, and a phosphate group.
The sugar component in this particular molecule is called deoxyribose and makes up the D in DNA.
This is a cyclic carbon-based chemical with five carbon atoms arranged as a pentagon.
At the second carbon atom there is an attached singular hydrogen atom in deoxyribose.
This can also have an additional oxygen attached as well.
In this case, the oxygenated chemical then forms what is simply known as ribose – the R in RNA.
The deoxy prefix literally means without oxygen.
Shape of RNA and DNA
RIbose can do almost everything deoxyribose can and also codes for genetic information in some cells and organisms.
When the oxygen is present it drastically alters how the chemicals bonds and sits alongside other molecules.
When oxygen is present – in RNA – it can take a variety of shapes.
When oxygen is not present in this specific location – in DNA – the molecule forms as the iconic double helix.
Uses of RNA
DNA is often broken down into RNA and read by the cells in order to translate and transcribe the genetic code in order to make proteins and other molecules essential for life.
RNA uses three of the same base pairs as DNA: Cytosine, Guanine, Adenine.
The othe base pair, Thymine, is swapped out in RNA for Uracil.
RNA is also often found in simpler organisms, such as bacteria.
It is often also a virus, with Hepatitis, flu and HIV all forms of RNA.
All animal cells use DNA, with one notable exception: the mitochondria.
Mitochondrian are the powerhouses of the cell and turn glucose into pyruvate and then into Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) via the Krebs cycle.
This process is all done in this one organelle in the cells and ATP is the universal form of energy and used throughout every aerobic organism.
In the mitochondria there is a small strand of RNA which is unique in the animal kingdom.
It is passed down from the mother exclusively (the father’s lives in the sperm but is dissolved during fertilisation) and allows humans to trace their maternal lineage back throughout time.