COVID-19 misinformation rate rises amid strong U.S. Delta wave

The U.S. ranked the second highest country worldwide with 54,615 CoV-2 Delta variant cases on Monday, according to Statista, amid a similar wave of virus misinformation that spiked noticeably between June and July. 

Rates of COVID-19 misinformation and its vaccines increased significantly from June to July, according to U.S.-based AI intelligence cloud that tracks relevant phrases on social media and news outlets, Zignal Labs. 

Among the most common falsehoods according to the AI media firm, 437 percent claimed that vaccines don’t work, 156 percent said that they contain microchips. 

The misleading tracked phrases included 111 percent of posts that told people should rely on their natural immunity instead of getting vaccinated, and 75 percent considered that vaccines cause miscarriages. 

These claims were not as widely circulated as they are now, as earlier in spring U.S. COVID-19 cases shrank to reach its lowest point from 278,047 cases in January to 42,111 cases during March according to the WHO.  

The wave of misinformation is said to shake the efforts of the vaccination rates in the country. It is important to highlight that a large number of infected and hospitalized individuals from the pandemic were unvaccinated, according to a report by The New York Times. 

Researchers attributes the spike in the COVID cases across the U.S. to the misleading vaccine information shared via social media. 

“These narratives are so embedded that people can keep on pushing these antivaccine stories with every new variant that’s going to come up,” said Rachel E. Moran, a researcher at the University of Washington who studies online conspiracy theories told The New York Times

“We’re seeing it with Delta, and we’re going to see it with whatever comes next,” he added. 

Meanwhile, On Tuesday, Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was suspended from Twitter after she said the COVID-19 vaccines were failing. The suspension was caused by her tweeting, “The FDA should not approve the Covid vaccines.” 

Before being suspended, Twitter flagged the tweet with a disclaimer and limited engagement tag due to its misinformation. 

However, it’s not the first strike Greene receives, as earlier last month, the Rep. was suspended for 12 hours from the platform for the same reason. 

Prior, she tweeted the virus “is not dangerous for non-obese people and those under 65.” Although, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people under 65 account for nearly 250,000 of the U.S. deaths involving COVID-19. 

It’s worth mentioning that Twitter’s strike system, which was launched in March, uses a combination of AI and machine learning to identify misleading and harmful coronavirus. 

Two and three strikes earn a 12-hour account lock; four strikes prompt a week-long suspension, and five and above would result in a permanent suspension.