Facebook hits back at Biden on vaccinations

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Social media behemoth says the company has been more effective than the government in promoting Covid-19 vaccination, reports Asian Lite News

Facebook on Saturday pushed back at President Joe Biden for the second time in as many days, suggesting the company has been more effective than the government in promoting Covid-19 vaccination after Biden said the social media behemoth is “killing people” with misinformation.

Asked Friday for his message to social media platforms regarding vaccinations, Biden said, “They’re killing people.”

“The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that’s — they’re killing people,” he continued.

Facebook refuted the criticism Friday, saying 2 billion people have viewed the science that vaccination works on the platform, and that more than 3.3 million Americans used its vaccination finder tool.

On Saturday, it doubled down, saying its data, collected with the help of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Maryland, adds up to the platform appearing to outperform the Biden administration on fostering “vaccine acceptance.”

“The data shows that 85% of Facebook users in the US have been or want to be vaccinated against Covid-19,” said Guy Rosen, the company’s vice president of integrity. “President Biden’s goal was for 70% of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed.”

Facebook has encouraged Americans to get inoculated through tools that include its vaccination finder and optional “profile frames” that show when friends have been vaccinated.

Rosen said “vaccine hesitancy” on the platform has declined 50 percent, ostensibly since the rollout of vaccines in January.

“We have been doing our part,” he said as part of a presentation-style statement Facebook published Saturday afternoon.

The Biden administration admitted it missed its goal of having 70 percent of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4, posting a 67 percent rate.

But actual vaccination and people expressing that they’re less hesitant or more likely to become inoculated are different things.

Critics have noted that conservative and far-right outlets and figures often associated with vaccine hesitancy dominate the daily list of top 10 Facebook posts culled from the platform’s own data by New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose.

Last week, surgeon general Vivek Murthy warned that misinformation during the times of Covid-19 pandemic has led to people declining the vaccines against the disease and also made people reject public health measures, such as face masks and social distancing. Murthy also urged individuals, health professionals, journalists and technology platforms to help in slowing the spread of misinformation.

In his 22-page advisory titled ‘Confronting Health Misinformation,’ his first as surgeon general under US President Joe Biden, Murthy also detailed the efforts that could be taken to curb the spread of health misinformation, which he termed as “serious threat to public health.” He also served as the surgeon general under former President Barack Obama.

Covid cases rising in all 50 states

The White House Covid Response team is warning Americans that the US outbreak is becoming “a pandemic of the unvaccinated” and nearly all hospital admissions and deaths are now among those who have not got their shots.

More than 160 million Americans are already vaccinated but Covid-19 is now surging in all 50 states, riding on the delta variant and slowing vaccination rates. Virus maps and models are awash in red. Emergency room physicians are wringing their hands over the mixed signals on masks earlier in the season.

The seven-day average of new cases is up nearly 70 percent over the last week, hospital admissions have climbed about 36 percent and deaths by 26 percent, according to data from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“There is a clear message that is coming through: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated. We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk. And communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday.

Things are so grim in LA county that it has reinstated a mask mandate irrespective of vaccination status. Here, the coronavirus positivity rate has increased nearly 700 percent since last month. In the last week alone, 10 percent of all US counties have moved into “high transmission risk”.

– A man wearing a face mask walks past a shop in London, Britain, on Oct. 13, 2020. The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 143 to 43,018, marking the highest daily figure since June, according to official figures released Tuesday. Another 17,234 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 634,920, the latest data showed. (Xinhua/Han Yan/IANS)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US Government’s top medical adviser, said about 100 countries have now been slammed by the Delta variant. According to Fauci, the “extraordinary surge” of the delta variant is now dominant in 50-70 percent of all US cases.

The “extreme vulnerability” of people who are not vaccinated will account for infections, hospitalizations, and, ultimately, deaths, Fauci warned. He pointed to lab studies and clinical effectiveness studies showing that all three US vaccines in the mix are 96 percent effective against hospitalization in case of the delta variant.

The US accounts for the world’s highest Covid-19 toll, from the start of the pandemic. The virus has killed more than 608,700 people in the US alone, from the time it first arrived on the country’s west coast in January 2020.

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