Medical professional seen from back giving a young person in a black/ white t-shirt a vaccine shot. Both are wearing masks.
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September Round-Up: Vaccine Mandates, Idar Oberstein Mask-Murder And More (Episode 13)

A number of relevant articles, studies and data has recently come out, so we read some of them – so you don't have to: The Inoculation’s September round-up.

Eva & Daiva @ The Inoculation

A number of relevant articles, studies and data has recently come out, we read some of them – so you don't have to: The Inoculation’s September round-up.

And check out our episodes on vaccine mandates and disinformation in Slovakia.

Our reporting is supported by, Media Lab Bayern and Alfred Toepfer Stiftung. Please subscribe to this show on Apple Podcasts, Audible, Google Podcasts, Spotify or another platform of your choice. Follow us on Facebook as @theinoculation, on Twitter as @TInoculation, and on Instagram as @the_inoculation

Here's the transcript (A robot helped us, so please excuse any mistakes):

Eva Schaper  0:00
Hi, you're listening to the inoculation.

Daiva Repeckaite  0:02
One evening over a plate of assorted Greek food in Valletta, my friend and I were discussing her restaurants and bars have reopened when suddenly our chat was interrupted by a demonstration against vaccine mandates. Demonstrators carried posters calling for freedom. In Malta, 90% of residents over 12 years old have already been vaccinated. So demonstrators like these are not convincing a lot of people. But whatever policy a country has, from demanding that children wear masks to imposing vaccine mandates for employees with a lot of contacts, various groups will demonstrate and say that their freedom is at stake. They will also form some unusual Alliances.

Eva Schaper  0:50
Hello, and welcome to the inoculation Podcast, where we explore the intersection of vaccine denial, technology and politics in depth. Today, we're back with Episode 13. With a roundup of some of the most interesting things that we read, listened to and looked at in the past week and talking about reading, you can also subscribe to our weekly newsletter. And I think I've I will drop a link into the show notes.

Daiva Repeckaite  1:19
Yep, people have been publishing very interesting stuff about how vaccine denialism is shaping our lives.

Eva Schaper  1:26
On last week's episode, we heard about why vaccine mandates might not work in the long run. We can link to that episode. But first, let's have a short listen.

Samantha Vanderslott  1:36
And then I think the compulsory vaccination policies in Europe have been quite complex in the reasons and yeah, intricacies of the law and policy. So during parallels there might be also a bit tricky.

Daiva Repeckaite  1:53
So these interviews took place from November last year to January this year.

Eva Schaper  1:58
And that was a time when mandates were still largely hypothetical. So now that we do have mandates in some countries such as France, let's take a look at what's happening.

Daiva Repeckaite  2:10
Have we lost our freedom? Or is this claim just another piece of disinformation. So do vaccine mandates work?

Eva Schaper  2:20
Join me, Eva von Schaper. And my colleague Daiva Repečkaitė, as we comb through research to find out what you can do, and what our governments can do to stop the spread of disinformation. We just want to take a minute to welcome our new listeners. Hello, and thank you for your interest. If you'd like our show, please tell your families, your co workers and your neighbors. That's

Daiva Repeckaite  2:42
right. If you know of someone who might enjoy this show, just pick up your phone, you know, it's right next to somewhere and text them the link right now.

Eva Schaper  2:51
We really need your help to get the word out about our show.

Okay, so let's jump right into the Roundup.

Daiva Repeckaite  3:04
I know I've been slacking off from this project to meet another deadline. But you've been reading a lot, right? Right. Here's

Eva Schaper  3:10
the study on mandatory vaccinations that I was talking about. vaccine passports may backfire findings from a cross sectional study in the UK and Israel on willingness to get vaccinated against COVID-19. That's a long title. Yes, it is. So what they do say is that we have domestic vaccine passports and they're being implemented across the world as a way of increasing vaccinated people's freedom of movement and to current vaccination. However, these vaccine passports may affect people's vaccinations decisions in unintended and undesirable ways. So what they did is they looked at almost 1400 people in Israel and the United Kingdom. And they saw that what they call need frustration or autonomy, frustration, was associated with a lower willingness to get vaccinated and with a shift from a self determined to external motivation. So they compared Israel which is a country that has vaccine passports with the United Kingdom, which is a country that doesn't have vaccine passports, and they found that in Israel, people reported a greater autonomy frustration then in the United Kingdom. So what does that basically mean? what they said they're finding was, our findings suggest that control measures such as domestic vaccine passports, may have detrimental effects on people's autonomy, motivation and willingness to get vaccinated. policies should strive to achieve a highly vaccinated population by supporting individuals autonomous motivation to get vaccinated and using messages of autonomy. And relatedness rather than applying pressure and external

Daiva Repeckaite  5:03
controls, that sounds really interesting and reasonable.

Eva Schaper  5:06
So what they're basically saying is that humans need to feel in control of their actions. And when they don't, they are less likely to follow through with them. And here's what the researchers also said. And I'm quoting the study. People who are a motivated or who feel pressured are unlikely to build good and trusting relationships with local governments and health authorities. relationships that are crucial for public health adherence, and behavior change to occur. More Moreover, need frustration can damage people's well beings so need frustrating policies might add to the already heavy burden of the pandemic on people's mental health. It is therefore important for governments and policymakers to apply health and risk communication that enhances basic psychological needs, such as creating an autonomy, supportive healthcare, climate, and building a caring and trusting relationship with the public.

Daiva Repeckaite  6:06
Yes, but in our previous episode, we also found how vaccine mandates could help in or be the solution in the short term. We'll link to it in the show notes.

Eva Schaper  6:17
This week, we had a reminder that although a lot of disinformation and misinformation is spread via social media, its effects are sadly felt in real life. In Germany where I live a man was killed by a customer who's upset with Germany's mask mandate. That's really tragic gas station worker in the town of eater over Stein was killed after a dispute with a customer over COVID-19 measures, according to a report on Deutsche Welle. So according to a police report, a 49 year old man is suspected of having shot a gas station employee this weekend over a mask wearing requirement at the gas station. So the killer is said to have entered the gas station to make a purchase without wearing a face mask. And the 20 year old employee asked them to comply with a regulation. And allegedly the two got into an argument which prompted the maskless man to leave. But according to the police, the man is said to have returned roughly an hour later this time he was wearing a mask, but he took it off and the two men started another argument. The suspect then pulled a concealed revolver out of his pocket and shot the 20 year old. Do we know more about this? There have been a lot of reports in German media. And now German politicians are saying that the right wing political party AfD has contributed to the radicalization of the queer denker scene. To create an anchor the there's basically a loose grouping, which includes pandemic skeptics, anti vaxxers, and anti lockdown protesters. They claim that the covid 19 pandemic and the federal and regional laws that are aimed at halting the spread of the virus infringe on citizens liberties.

Daiva Repeckaite  8:07
This sounds a lot like what Ales of Oxford told us earlier this year.

Ales Herasimenka  8:12
What I'm thinking and it's since I sort of I started urbanization, political organization. I think what might happen, you asked me a question about COVID, right, COVID and COVID related groups and organizations and conspiracies that emerged during this period. I think that those groups now just get orders. And over time, they might be hijacked by different actors, not necessarily those people who establish them, versus antivaxx groups might, with time change, say the speaker, and they might be united around mobilized around a different idea. Some radical idea somehow another outrageous conspiracy, like in the US, it was conspiracy of stolen election. Right? Similar thing can happen in Germany, who knows what it can be? I have no idea really, but it can be anything. The damage here the potential damage is the emergence of audiences that the United and echo chambers on the internet not necessarily be platforms, but on all sorts of platforms like telegram, and those creatures are already there. And they're waiting for disruptive political actors to come and hijack them. This might happen.

Eva Schaper  9:27
Yes, and that's eerily right on the nose, isn't it? Exactly. Oh, and here, there's just another really interesting story on the markup where they took a look at how this right wing political party AfD is posting on Facebook. What about them? Well, the AfD is not very big in Germany, but they've been remarkably successful on Facebook. So the markup obtained data through a project that's called the citizen browser project. shows how the AfD has gained tremendous traction on Facebook. in the run up to this weekend's election in which the German parliament and the Chancellor Germany's Chancellor will be elected. Well, the citizen browser project collects data from a diverse panel of 473 German Facebook users that shows at the party and its supporters have peppered Facebook, with pages promoting its ideology posts on those pages appearing in our panelists newsfeed at least three times as often. And that was from any rival party.

Daiva Repeckaite  10:34
Do we know how they have they're so popular on Facebook? Well, according to

Eva Schaper  10:38
the markup, the AfD and its supporters, they run more active pages. They set up really small localized pages that garner support across the country. And also the FDA. And I think this is especially important relies more on sensational aggravating content. And this is a perspective that Facebook rewards with greater reach. So for example, one recent AfD posts was about so called climate hysteria led to more than 5000 angry face reactions on Facebook,

Daiva Repeckaite  11:11
this story seems to be repeating itself over and over again, right?

Eva Schaper  11:15
Yes, you're right. And I really would recommend that anybody who's interested in Facebook, and the problems that Facebook had read a story that was published, or a series of four stories that were published by the Wall Street Journal that looked deep inside Facebook, The Wall Street Journal found a trove of internal documents. And from that they wrote four stories. The stories are behind the paywall. But there are also four podcasts that are accessible on Spotify, and wherever you want to listen to, to podcasts. They're really, really interesting. So one thing I thought was really one point, there's a lot of information in these stories. And one thing that I thought was really interesting was, for example, that that Facebook basically feel that the high profile users like celebrities, politicians from the sides rules and protected them from the enforcement of these rules. And the company does all of this in secret. Even though Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that all users are treated equally. I took a look at the podcast transcript. What I really found tracking when I looked at the transcript was for example, that content that definitely violated Facebook's rules was viewed 16 point 4 billion times. That's billion not million. So that's 16 point 4 billion views of things like hate speech, racism, revenge, porn and graphic violence. And among those posts, they're also anti vaccine and anti masked posts. And the number is so huge because these are very high profile accounts with a huge number of followers.

Daiva Repeckaite  12:57
Okay, so Facebook is in some hot water, right? Well, I

Eva Schaper  13:01
think the public perception of Facebook right now is not that positive. And the New York Times tech reporter, shy Roe v. Wade suggested that maybe Facebook should not be present in countries in which it can't regulate its posts. So for example, what she said was maybe it's time for the company simply to leave countries like Myanmar and Azerbaijan until it devotes the same level of money attention and cultural competence to its presence in those places as a devotes to the to its presence in the US and France. And she says, you know, Facebook is far from perfect, even in

Daiva Repeckaite  13:38
rich countries. does this apply to vaccine misinformation as well?

Eva Schaper  13:42
That's something that Sri Ravi didn't mention. And it really is hard to imagine how Facebook would just start publishing posts about vaccine information, because I guess it's easier to leave a country than it would be just to exit a whole subject. So well, the thought might be correct. It's it's hard to see how Facebook could do that. Oh, but diver, you've been reading quite interesting things too, haven't you?

Daiva Repeckaite  14:09
Well, I just jumped into a survey data rabbit or the john hopkins center for communication programs has launched vaccine intentions dashboard, where you can compare countries age groups and education levels. And what did you learn that people who remain unvaccinated in Europe mostly worry about side effects over a half of people who are not vaccinated currently pointed to that reason when they were asked why they wouldn't get their job to and five wanted to wait and see. And nearly a third believed for one reason or another that they do not need a vaccine.

Eva Schaper  14:46
And why? I mean, did did that research say why people don't believe that they need a vaccine?

Daiva Repeckaite  14:52
Well, some of them do not consider themselves to be members of a high risk group. That explanation is especially A widespread in the Netherlands. But in five countries a fifth or more of the unvaccinated simply did not think that vaccines as such are beneficial. And in which countries is that all five are Central and Eastern European countries. For example,

Eva Schaper  15:15
your home country, Lithuania and the Baltic states.

Daiva Repeckaite  15:18
Nope. The survey didn't include any of the Baltic states. But for example, I found Slovakia where our colleague Lucas told us in episode eight of this podcast, that introducing the Russian Sputnik v vaccines didn't quite help the country to overcome vaccine hesitancy.

Unknown Speaker  15:35
According samples, it's around 40%, who don't want to get vaccinated. And they are mostly influenced by disinformation by far right parties, which are messenger of this disinformation in Slovakia.

Eva Schaper  15:52
Right, that's interesting. And what else was interesting in a dashboard diver,

Daiva Repeckaite  15:56
it was troubling see that a third of the unvaccinated in Finland have tried to get a vaccine, but didn't. What could have happened there.

Eva Schaper  16:05
Do you think they weren't able to book an appointment or maybe they live too far from a health care provider?

Daiva Repeckaite  16:12
It's not clear, but half of unvaccinated respondents living in small towns or villages face that problem. So there might be an access issue there. Finland is a large country

Eva Schaper  16:22
did any other countries have that same issue?

Daiva Repeckaite  16:25
Only Spain and Portugal had more than a quarter of unvaccinated residents saying they tried to get the vaccine.

Eva Schaper  16:31
Okay. That's very interesting, because that does tell us that not all unvaccinated people are unvaccinated because they're actually vaccine hesitant. Right? Seems to be the case. And what else did you read?

Daiva Repeckaite  16:44
So you're remember we talked about demonstrations, mentioning freedom when they oppose vaccination policies? Yes, of course. So the economist liberal publication came out in favor of us vaccine mandates, comparing the recent COVID-19 death counts to 911. And suggesting that I quote, in democracies public health sometimes requires coercion, and of quote, their peace referenced a ruling from 1905 of the US Supreme Court, which established that despite freedom to refuse treatment, I quote again, you are not thereby free to infect other people and have quote, according to the economist, the Delta variant is too infectious to handle without mass vaccination. Also, elderly people are dying with waning immunity, hospitals are overwhelmed, and treatment of the unvaccinated is costly. And another quote from this article, for all those reasons, your choice over vaccination is everyone's business. They also said that in France, demanding vaccine passports in social situations, has not only boosted the country's vaccination rate, but curiously reduced vaccine hesitancy according to a survey in August.

Eva Schaper  18:03
Okay, that's very interesting. And I also just wanted to point to this very fascinating article on tech policy press about online wormholes. And it basically shows how scientific publishing is weaponized to fuel COVID-19. disinformation. How would that work? Well, what the article says is that decentralized, fragmented, and open access online scientific literature systems provide opportunities to manipulate perceptions around scientific evidence and conclusions. So for example, if somebody shares hyperlinks to scientific papers, with a request from the user to do your own research, you have a position that is similar to the notion of wormholes in science fiction. So they transport the user between Facebook, Twitter and other messaging and social media apps, jumbling science and facts in transit.

Daiva Repeckaite  18:59
I've seen one of these WhatsApp messages with a link to a scientific paper and a sentence taken completely out of context. So I can see that how this would waste a lot of time if we had to verify these links each time.

Eva Schaper  19:15
And yes, it's definitely something we should look into in maybe one of the future episodes. Let's make a note of that. I just wanted to remind you that everything we talked about all the all the studies and newspaper articles, will add links to them so that you can find them if you want to take a look for yourself. We'll add a transcript of this show to our website www the inoculation comm if you prefer to read about these things,

Daiva Repeckaite  19:46
if you want to hear more stories about vaccine hesitancy, you can look up the inoculation, wherever you'd like to listen to podcasts.

Eva Schaper  19:53
Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter inoculated and the link is in the show notes.

Daiva Repeckaite  20:00
You can follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. Our reporting is supported by journalism funder to you Media Lab Bayern. And Toepfer Stiftung. Bye for now.

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