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Common Facebook post posing billion dollar threat

Lucy Dean
·2-min read
Like and share social media. Hands holding smartphone with social media network icons. Marketing concept.
Vaccine misinformation could trigger serious economic discussions. Image: Getty.

Anti-vaccine misinformation is posing a threat to the national and global economic recovery, experts are warning.

COVID-19 misinformation and anti-vaccination sentiment in Australia soared in February as the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived on-shore.

Australians are less confident now about getting vaccinated than they were four months ago, the Melbourne Institute found. Almost 20 per cent of Australians don’t want the jab compared to only 12 per cent in October.

This poses a “pertinent issue” for the Australian economy and its COVID-19 recovery, Fidelity International portfolio manager Kate Howitt said.

“You've got to get a certain level of vaccination to get the herd immunity … to allow you to open up, but not have an impact on economic activity,” she said.

“And yet, kind of paradoxically, the community sentiment towards vaccination has been falling over the last six months.”

That’s despite Australians being generally on board for other public health measures including lockdown, COVID-testing and tracing.

Vaccine misinformation made social media firms US$1 billion in the year to October 2020, the Centre for Countering Digital Hate revealed last year.

Facebook moved to ban all vaccine misinformation content from its platform earlier this year after years of criticism over its inaction on vaccine myths.

It had previously applied labels to misinformation, but allowed them to remain on the platform.

“These new policies will help us continue to take aggressive action against misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines,” Facebook Integrity vice president Guy Rosen said.

In Australia, doctors, nurses and pharmacists who spread misinformation will also face being stripped of their licence to practise under a new directive rolled out on Thursday.

Recovery hinging on vaccination roll out

The World Bank’s 2021 Global Economics Prospects expects a 4 per cent expansion in the global economy this year, but that hinges largely on an effective vaccination roll out.

Under the bank’s positive scenario, an effective roll out will trigger a faster end to the pandemic and a “sharp rise in consumer confidence and unleashing pent-up demand”.

"Industrial commodity exporters and countries with greater exposure to trade and tourism would be expected to benefit most from a faster resolution of the pandemic,” the report stated.

However, under a negative scenario where the roll out is hampered by anti-vaccination sentiment and logistical challenges, the global economy would recover at 1.6 per cent.

The OECD also predicts Australian GDP will expand 4.5 per cent, provided the vaccine roll out is effective.

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Image: Yahoo Finance
Image: Yahoo Finance