Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, founding director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at Boston University, told CNBC, that, medically, she agrees with President Joe Biden’s assertion that platforms like Facebook are killing people by allowing Covid-19 vaccine misinformation on their services.
“I think social media is playing a big role in amplifying misinformation, which is leading to people not taking the vaccine, which is killing them,” Bhadelia said. “It’s the honest truth. Covid, right now, is a vaccine-preventable disease.”
Bhadelia cited findings by the Kaiser Family Fund survey that found 54% of Americans either believe in or cannot distinguish whether a common Covid vaccine myth is fact or fiction.
The U.S. is grappling with a lagging vaccination rate and a rise in infections. All 50 states have reported a jump in Covid cases over the past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. is seeing an average of more than 26,000 new cases a day, and that’s the highest number in two months, according to Johns Hopkins.
Bhadelia told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” she believes social media companies can do a lot more to stop disseminating disinformation.
“They need to invest a lot more resources, and better enhance their balance of taking that information down more quickly, invest more resources in changing their matrix, because, right now, what gets on top of your page is not what’s correct, it’s what’s popular,” said Bhadelia, an NBC News medical contributor.
She also suggested that social media companies form more partnerships with public health bodies in order to get the right information to people.
Facebook spoke out against the claims made by the White House.
“We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts,” a spokesperson said. “The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”