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Filipino Health workers criticize alleged US psyop on Chinese COVID vaccine

Filipino Health workers criticize alleged US psyop on Chinese COVID vaccine

Filipino Health workers criticize alleged US psyop on Chinese COVID vaccine

Filipino Health workers criticize alleged US psyop on Chinese COVID vaccine

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  • A Reuters investigation revealed a US military operation to discredit Chinese vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The operation involved creating fake social media accounts to sow doubts about Sinovac among Filipinos.
  • Filipino health workers remember the pandemic pushing the country’s healthcare system to the brink of collapse.
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Filipino health workers express dismay and anger over an alleged US covert operation to discredit Chinese vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic, citing vaccine hesitancy that they say prevented them from saving more people among the tens of thousands killed.

Last week, a Reuters investigation revealed that the US military initiated a secret propaganda campaign in the Philippines during the peak of the pandemic. The campaign aimed to disseminate misinformation and shape public opinion regarding the efficacy of China’s Sinovac inoculation and other life-saving aid provided by Beijing.

Starting in 2020 and lasting until mid-2021, the operation involved creating fake social media accounts — Reuters identified at least 300 of them on X — intended to sow doubts about Sinovac among Filipinos. According to the Reuters report, the program was allegedly retaliation for Beijing’s attempts to accuse Washington of being responsible for the pandemic.

Sinovac became the first available COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines, but fears over its perceived unreliability marred its rollout. According to a report by the World Bank, vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos was higher than in other countries in the region, with nearly half expressing unwillingness or uncertainty about vaccination as of September 2021.

Frontline health workers at the Philippine General Hospital, the country’s main hospital for COVID-19, said it resulted in Filipino lives being lost.

“If the misinformation propaganda was real … the views of the general public about the importance of vaccines may have been affected by these troll farms. We know that Filipinos, especially the elderly, can easily believe what they read online,” Andro Carl Coronejo, a staff nurse at PGH’s pediatric intensive care unit, told Arab News, referring to organizations employing people to deliberately manipulate public opinion.

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“I think if it didn’t happen, more people would have been compliant earlier with vaccines. Hence, more lives would have been saved.”

The pandemic claimed over 66,000 lives in the Philippines, making it the second-highest death toll in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.

Bryan Elvambuena, an internal medicine resident at PGH in 2020, stated that disinformation could have prevented many people from surviving. He believes it influenced his patients, many of whom suffered from severe COVID-19.

“I was dismayed and I found it counterproductive and pathetic because we tried our best to inform people to get vaccinated with the readily available vaccines,” Elvambuena said.

Filipino health workers remembered how the pandemic pushed the country’s healthcare system to the brink of collapse, with doctors and nurses grappling to care for COVID-19 patients amid a surge in cases.

During one of her shifts as a staff nurse at PGH in 2020, Dianne de Castro recounted being the only other person on duty to care for 24 patients, with at least four of them connected to mechanical ventilators and life support machines.

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“It makes me wonder how we could have prevented or at least lessened the mortalities; the lives lost during the dark time in our generation. ​​I’ve worked in healthcare for around four years before COVID-19 hit, but I’ve never been this scared of seeing so many moms, dads, siblings, relatives, and friends die day in and day out,” De Castro told Arab News.

“This ploy to spread misinformation to the public angers me. I still view Sinovac (as) a capable vaccine for COVID-19 and spreading this rumor is as close (as) cutting off the oxygen supply of a person gasping for air and fighting for his life.”

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