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As India starts world’s largest COVID vaccination drive, media organisations resort to spreading lies and fear

In the autopsy released by the State Government on January 17, Singh’s death was ascribed to cardiogenic and septicaemic shock due to an existing cardiopulmonary disease.

Days after India commenced the world’s largest immunisation exercise against the coronavirus pandemic, several media organisations have resorted to undercutting the Indian Government’s ambitious move by peddling unfounded and baseless apprehensions regarding the efficacy and the alleged side-effects of the indigenously-developed vaccines.

The apprehensions regarding the indigenously-developed COVID-19 vaccines were fuelled after a man in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad district died of heart attack, a day after receiving the coronavirus vaccine. The media organisations tried to insinuate that the man’s death was caused by the vaccines.

Media resorts to deception to undermine India’s COVID-19 vaccination programme

The Times of India published an article titled “UP Man dies after receiving COVID-19 vaccine” which alluded that the man died as a consequence of the ill-effects of the vaccine. It was reported that Mahipal Singh, a ward boy at a hospital in Moradabad, started feeling a bit queasy after taking the jab. 

Source: Times of India

However, he continued with his night duty and complained of uneasiness in chest, breathlessness and cough the next morning. He was rushed to the hospital where he was declared brought dead. 

The Times of India was not the only publication that resorted to sensationalism and attributed the cause of death to COVID-19 vaccine. There were other media outfits, too, which in their bid to provide dramatic content to their readers, proceeded to allege that Singh died because of the complications suffered after being injected with the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Source: Mashable India

Some of the reports were published after the autopsy report was out, yet the media organisations fell for sensational tricks and resorted to sharing misleading headlines to allege that the man died because of the coronavirus vaccine. For instance, the report titled “COVID-19 Vaccine: Uttar Pradesh ward boy dies after taking a vaccine shot” published on led the readers into believing that the vaccine had caused an unintended effect leading to the death of the subject. However, in the body, the article mentioned that the officials have already denied links between the man’s death to COVID-19 vaccine.

Death of ward boy unrelated to COVID-19 vaccine

It was later revealed that Singh’s death was not linked to the vaccine. In the autopsy released by the State Government on January 17, Singh’s death was ascribed to cardiogenic and septicaemic shock due to an existing cardiopulmonary disease. 

A panel of doctors who examined Singh’s body found that his heart weighed 500 gm as against the normal range of 200 gm as the chambers and aorta of the organ were found with blood clots. They also found pus pockets in the lungs.

However, the media organisations, in their attempt to sensationalise the content and thereby attract greater eyeballs, attempted to sensationalist the baseless fears. 

Media organisations joining hands with compulsive detractors to belittle Indian-made vaccines

This attempt to malign the indigenously-developed vaccines comes at a time when certain habitual detractors have fuelled apprehensions over the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines in their bid to smear the Modi government. They have tried to stoke fears among the population by claiming that the vaccines approved by the Indian government have not been adequately tested. 

It is not the first time that certain mainstream media houses have tried to spread fear against the vaccines. Even after repeated assurances from the government, healthcare officials and experts, some sections of the mainstream media and certain individuals have been spreading blatant misinformation against the vaccines.

Nations repose faith in India-made vaccines

On the other hand, the government has doubled down on its efforts to dispel doubts and allay fears of untoward reaction that the vaccine might induce. A widespread campaign is launched by the government to communicate the safety of the vaccine and quell rumours and speculations concerning its inefficacy. 

Not just the Indian government, but the vaccines developed by the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech have won the endorsement from other governments as well. As India embarked on the world’s biggest vaccination drive, many Latin American countries, East Europian and Asian nations have sought doses of the vaccines for inoculating their population. 

Countries in India’s neighbourhood, such as Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh have already signed agreements with one of the two aforementioned vaccine developers for procuring doses to vaccinate their people. As a goodwill gesture, India will also be sending the first shipments of the doses to neighbouring countries, except China and Pakistan. The vaccines developed by the Indian makers have been proved effective and safe and several countries have already approved their emergency use.

But the Indian media seems to be bent on undermining the inoculation programme that aims to immunise a large population in the world’s second-most populous country. For India to succeed in its battle against the coronavirus, it is not only imperative that people’s trust in the vaccine is reinforced, but it is equally important that the government develops an ‘antidote’ to treat the malaise of peddling lies and deception as exhibited by some of the Indian media organisations.

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Jinit Jain
Engineer. Writer. Learner.

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