The Pandora Box of misinformation surrounding the Covid-19 vaccination drive

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Manali Sarkar, a 2nd year MBBS student at MGM Medical College, Navi Mumbai. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Hidden behind the veil of the Covid-19 pandemic, lies the maleficence of misinformation. This misinformation propagated via digital means impeded in successfully controlling and managing the pestilence. Now this “digital infodemic”[1] has spread its tentacles in the vaccination campaign orchestrated in many countries.

This infodemic was nurtured by the anti-vaccination (anti-vax) community in the fertile grounds of social networking sites. A study showed that although anti-vaccination groups are few in number, they are much more effective in spreading misinformation among others as compared to their pro-vaccination counterparts[2]. These anti-vaccination groups spread conspiracy theories detailing how Bill Gates orchestrated the pandemic to roll out a microchip containing vaccine which will be activated by 5G and track every citizen of the world[3]. These outlandish allegations found sustenance in our current world of fear and uncertainty.

There has been a meteoric rise in popularity of certain self-proclaimed experts who spend their time manufacturing incorrect information and disseminating it to the public.[4]  Now, irrespective of their qualification every Tom, Dick, and Harry has an opinion about the vaccination. This has led to an overall drop in the number of people willing to be vaccinated. A study conducted by Pew research collecting data from May and September 2020 found that there was a 21% drop from May to September 2020 among US citizens eager to be vaccinated.[5]

The vaccine misinformation has also taken root in healthcare professionals leading to a multitude of adversity in vaccination drives. In a Kansas county health department, all 4 nurses declined to give the vaccine. [6] In an age of vaccine scarcity, a Wisconsin pharmacist deliberately destroyed more than 500 doses.[7]In India vaccine hesitance was deemed to be the reason for the low turnout. [8]

[1] Working together to tackle the “infodemic” [Internet]. World Health Organization. World Health Organization; 2020. Available from:

[2] Johnson NF, Velásquez N, Restrepo NJ, Leahy R, Gabriel N, Oud SE, et al. The online competition between pro- and anti-vaccination views [Internet]. Nature News. Nature Publishing Group; 2020 [cited 2021Jan25]. Available from:

[3] Evstatieva M. Anatomy of A COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory [Internet]. NPR. NPR; 2020 [cited 2021Jan25]. Available from:

[4] Ketchell M. Now everyone’s a statistician. Here’s what armchair COVID experts are getting wrong [Internet]. The Conversation. 2021 [cited 25 January 2021]. Available from:

[5]  Tyson A, Johnson C, Funk C. U.S. Public Now Divided Over Whether To Get COVID-19 Vaccine [Internet]. Pew Research Center Science & Society. 2021 [cited 25 January 2021]. Available from:

[6] Meisenzahl M. All 4 nurses in a Kansas county’s health department refused to give out COVID-19 vaccines [Internet]. Business Insider. 2021 [cited 25 January 2021]. Available from:

[7] Baker I, Salcedo A. Wisconsin pharmacist who ‘intentionally’ spoiled more than 500 vaccine doses is arrested, police say [Internet]. The Washington Post. 2021 [cited 25 January 2021]. Available from:

[8] Awasthi P. Hesitancy to take Covid-19 vaccine reason for low turnout in India [Internet]. @businessline. The Hindu BusinessLine; 2021 [cited 2021Jan25]. Available from:

About the author

Manali Sarkar is a 2nd year MBBS student at MGM Medical College, Navi Mumbai. As a volunteer for MSAI, she had the opportunity to talk to various people (patient and healthcare professionals included) who would discuss such sensitive issues and the response among them would widely differ. Hence to highlight these varied responses and encourage a healthy debate among people of various nations, age, gender and race she has submitted this article to IFMSA

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

How COVID-19 is throttling vital migration flows

UN rights chief Bachelet appeals for dialogue in Sudan amid reports ‘70 killed’ in demonstrations

Asian and Pacific economies: decreases in tax revenue highlight need to broaden tax bases

Coronavirus: harmonised standards for medical devices to respond to urgent needs

Turkey: Extension of EU humanitarian programmes supporting 1.7 million refugees receives green light

Health services for Syrian women caught up in war, foster safety and hope: UNFPA

ILO: Progress on gender equality at work remains inadequate

EU plans to exploit the Mediterranean Sea and the wealth beneath it

An entrepreneurial point-of view on tackling the migration crisis and the risks of abolishing Schengen

So, what is your favourite Sustainable Development Goal?

Three ways to improve your corporate culture in the #MeToo era

Social inclusion: how much should young people hope from the EU? 

Athens urged to fast track asylum seekers amid island shelters crisis – UNHCR

Vaccination: understanding the challenges surrounding COVID-19 vaccination campaigns

What India’s route to universal health coverage can teach the world

To what extent are our moral standards responsible for killing people?

5 amazing schools that will make you wish you were young again

How to describe chronic pain beyond numbers? A Brazilian measuring instrument

Security Council must ‘come together’ to address the plight of children trapped in armed conflict, says UN envoy

Mental health as a tool of survival at the Pandemic

European Youth calls on European Council for urgent action on “humanitarian crisis” and questions the EU/Turkey deal respect of human rights

Future EU financing and recovery: MEPs to assess summit outcome

When will Eurozone’s unemployment rate stop being Europe’s worst nightmare?

Mobile World Congress 2015 first to debate EU’s new stance on Net Neutrality and Roaming Charges

Afghanistan: UN mission welcomes new polling dates following election delays

Fairness should be at the heart of the agricultural goods trade

Vaccination: understanding the challenges surrounding COVID-19 vaccination campaigns

A Sting Exclusive: “The Digital Economy and Industry are no longer opposing terms”, Commissioner Oettinger underlines live from European Business Summit 2015

Tiny Iceland teaches the West how to treat bankers

Women’s rights and how medical students can act as aides of progressive change

The results of Finland’s basic income experiment are in. Is it working?

We can decide to live within the limits of our planet

Promoting Health in the Brazilian Amazon: one nation but many cultures

ECB money bonanza not enough to revive euro area, Germany longs to rule with stagnation

New EU rules ensure better protection for 120 million holidaymakers this summer

EU Migrant Crisis: Italian Coast Guard Headquarters and Italian Navy to give host national opening addresses at Border Security 2016 in Rome

UN chief pays tribute to Egypt’s role in avoiding ‘dramatic’ escalation in conflict across the Gaza-Israel border

ACP-EU : Agreement on climate change, migration and post-Cotonou

CO2 can be a valuable raw material, not just a climate killer. Here’s how

Scientists have created biodegradable microneedles to fight eye disease

Annual UN women activists’ summit opens with focus on services, infrastructure

How start-ups will lead India through the Fourth Industrial Revolution

EU Ombudsman investigates the European Commission

EU and UK soon to be in a post-Brexit rush over free trade agreement with Australia

Commission and EIB provide CureVac with a €75 million financing for vaccine development and expansion of manufacturing

Could entrepreneurship be the real cure against the side effects of Brexit?

Rebuilding after COVID: The challenge is digital

Medical students: catalysts to close the gender gap

How the world can ‘reset’ itself after COVID-19 – according to these experts

Threat to biodiversity risks a flood of economic ruin

One third of poorer countries face both undernutrition and obesity: WHO report

State aid: Commission approves €900 million Slovenian scheme to support uncovered fixed costs of companies affected by coronavirus outbreak

Google case: A turning point in competition rules enforcement

Australia’s bushfires have pumped out half a year’s CO2 emissions

How Eurozone consumers spend their income when they have one…

25 years after population conference, women still face challenges to ‘well-being and human rights’, says UN chief

Cheese energy could power hundreds of UK homes

5G: How a ‘legion of robots’ could help save the rhino

The European Parliament fails to really restrict the rating agencies

Sponsored content: when QUALITY meets OPEX in manufacturing

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s