Hisham: The world must fight fake news on Covid-19

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): As the world prepares for vaccination plans to contain the pandemic, nations must work together to fight the misinformation related to the Covid-19 vaccines and anti-vaccination propaganda, says Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

The dangers of misinformation are real, and present itself as a setback to the progress that had been made, he added.

As soon as news of a vaccine breakthrough made headlines around the world, misinformation about forced vaccinations, DNA alterations, and fake accounts made the rounds, said Hishammuddin at his intervention at the 31st Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in response to Covid-19 on Friday (Dec 4).

"Global fears have been intensified by the immediacy of round the clock news cycles and unending streams of information, both accurate and false, on social media.

"The chief motive for this campaign? To mislead and undermine trust in medicine when it matters most, and ultimately prolong this pandemic. It’s simple - misinformation costs lives, especially as we are preparing national vaccination plans for our people,” he said.

The meeting was held online due to the ongoing pandemic.

The public awareness on the need to vaccinate is crucial to prevent a climate of fear and division during the roll-out phase.

"Negativity, as an outcome of the propaganda, must be addressed head-on. It would be a tragedy if, in our eagerness, dangerous supporters who campaign against the whole concept of vaccination be left to flourish - risking damaging influence on the masses, and threatening millions more lives,” he said.

Hishammuddin also stressed Malaysia’s stand that the Covid-19 vaccine, once developed, must be made accessible, equitable and affordable to all.

Malaysia remains committed to working together with the United Nations and all its member states in facing the common challenge while also remaining vigilant to overcome this deadly virus, said Hishammuddin.

"A single virus has claimed the lives of over 1.4 million people worldwide and has plunged us into a global economic recession.

"It has resulted in a health, economic, and social crisis - a potent concoction which if left unmanaged, could reverse decades of progress we have achieved together in the United Nations,” he added. - Bernama

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