It must be said – Indian mainstream media deserves a thrashing for its horrendous anti-vaccine coverage at a time when they should have been urging all eligible citizens of the country to get vaccinated as a matter of national duty. Instead, they sought to, in cahoots with opposition parties, fearmonger the people of India. This resulted in many healthcare and frontline workers, apart from people above the age of 60 not getting vaccinated – since they were among the very first beneficiaries of the Covid-19 vaccination drive which started in mid-January. Now that the catastrophe of a second wave has unfolded before our very own eyes – everyone wants a vaccine.
But there is definitely a vaccine shortage – since backlogged beneficiaries too are turning up for vaccination only now, leaving a vaccine scarcity for the latest beneficiaries between the age of 18 to 44. The mainstream media and opposition parties played a big role in producing a fear psychosis among Indians with regards to the Covid-19 vaccine. Part of the media’s ridiculous vaccine coverage can be blamed on their rather extravagant lack of scientific acumen, while most of it has much to do with sensationalism and coverage of what opposition parties have to say about the jabs.
3/n During this time, many news articles were published in the media against the vaccine.@IndianExpress 182,#loksatta 172,@navbharattimes_ 236,@HindustanTimes 123,@timesofindia 28,@thewire_in 78,@ThePrintIndia 59,@scroll_in 122,@newslaundry 54,@AltNews 78,#TheHindu 128
— Jyoti Kapur Das (@jkd18) May 12, 2021
5/n 172 retired IAS, IPS, judges & other government officials also
had spoken against the vaccine. 342 cartoons were produced by cartoonists in opposition to the vaccine. A confusion arose among the large section of the people of the country that vaccine is not safe.
— Jyoti Kapur Das (@jkd18) May 12, 2021
In a recent letter addressed to interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi, BJP National President J P Nadda called out opposition leaders, particularly those from the Congress, for waging an anti-vaccine campaign laced with misinformation in order to derail the country’s Covid-19 fight. “Throughout last year, when our scientists, doctors and innovators were racing against time to find a vaccine, your party leaders left no opportunity to mock these efforts. A vaccine that is made in India should be a matter of national pride. Instead, Congress leaders tried to ridicule it and create doubts in the minds of people,” Nadda said.
The need of the hour is to criminally prosecute members of the media and opposition leaders for spreading misinformation against Made in India vaccines. Media houses must be subjected to punitive penalties for their brazen and unscientific coverage of the country’s vaccination drive. In the beginning of the vaccination campaign in January and February, the media played a big role in ensuring that citizens do not go to the centres for inoculating themselves.
As reported by TFI, it was NDTV and its Harvard alumni journalists leading the charge of creating an environment of paranoia and psychosis, when it dedicated a full section on its airtime to highlight the one or two odd cases that cropped up whenever someone took a vaccine. The mainstream media also extensively covered the news of a man dying, who was a part of the phase III trials of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. The incident was blown out of proportion even when the autopsy report confirmed that he died of cardiorespiratory issues. This, despite the media not knowing whether the man was given an actual vaccine or merely a placebo.
India Today had carried a news report where it contradicted the essence of its news story by writing, “As many as 51 healthcare workers experienced minor adverse events.” ‘Minor adverse events’ in itself is a paradoxical statement which a layman would have a hard time deciphering. How exactly does anybody have minor adverse effects? These minor effects – which occur after any sort of vaccination, were projected as lethal aftereffects to the Indian vaccines by the media, resulting in the creation of a wave of vaccine hesitancy in a country which has historically not been afraid of jabs.
Opposition parties were not far behind when it came to issuing bizarre statements against Covid-19 vaccines. Akhilesh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party chief and former CM of Uttar Pradesh, called the jabs “BJP’s vaccine”. He also denied the existence of the pandemic and said, ‘Where is the pandemic?”. Another SP leader – Ashutosh Sinha had gone a step further and claimed that the vaccines will make people impotent. Salman Nizami, a senior Congress leader, had called the vaccine a ‘fraud’. “Vaccine is FRAUD,” he tweeted and deleted the tweet a few hours later.
Bharat Biotech’s ‘Covaxin’ was particularly targeted by the Congress party for its completely Indian origins. When Covaxin was approved for emergency use in India, senior Congress leaders like Manish Tiwari, Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh and Shashi Tharoor had raised questions over its safety and efficacy, since Phase III trial results were not immediately made available. However, the fact that Covaxin passed the Phase II trials with flying colours – which are meant for establishing the safety of the vaccine was given a complete miss by Congress and its lackeys.
Now that people have seen through the lies of Congress, all beneficiaries are turning up for vaccines. Walk-in vaccinations are permitted for healthcare and frontline workers and those above the age of 60. Meanwhile, those above the age of 18 require appointments to be made online, while some states also continue with the practice of ensuring that those above 45 years of age fix an appointment online. This is creating a disadvantageous scenario for the country’s youth, who are being deprived of vaccines due to the anti-vaccine campaign of the media. For their shameless coverage, the media and opposition parties deserve stringent punishment.