Polio’s Allies: Guns and Fake News

Global defeat of polio is within reach—but 2 formidable obstacles, violence and misinformation, stand in the way.
In Pakistan, hardline Islamist forces fueled recent violence—including arson of a health facility and the murder of 2 police guards—and spread rumors that the vaccines are contaminated, or a Western plot to sterilize Muslims. In one province, they’ve convinced ~700,000 families to refuse vaccines.
One Pakistani official pointed to anti-vax propaganda on Facebook as another threat, calling for offending posts to be taken down.
“The main obstacle to a world free of polio is not science, biology or virology. Rather, it is guns, fear and fake news,” a Washington Post editorial states.

The accompanying news story details how polio vaccine workers were caught off guard. “It is so depressing," a government epidemiologist said. “One day of drama has ruined three years of work ... People who used to welcome our teams into their homes are now closing the doors.”


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