Every urging has been exhausted, the appeals abound. In all languages, symbolically and literally, the presidents of the European Centers for Disease Control, infectious disease specialists, WHO experts, politicians, stars, celebrities, videos, posts and publications are desperately pleading with people to be vaccinated.
Yet the number of unvaccinated people worldwide is high, and the virus, instead of being defeated, is launching a new attack. The Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta variants have been declared “variants of concern” by the WHO, while Lambda is also making a dynamic entry.
At the same time, along with the letters of the alphabet – which identify the variants – the vocabulary available for those who resist vaccination and for the increasing risks from the virus is dwindling. Repeated slogans heard around – such as “Enough!” – highlight the public fatigue. Vaccine deniers are not changing their minds because the sources through which they are persuaded about their stance remain foreign and unfamiliar to those who are vaccinated – to those, that is, who contribute toward the effort to stop the virus.
Misinformation gurus dominate the internet with hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. In an EU survey, 40% of those who cited social media or blogs as their primary source of news belonged to the percentage of Europeans (27%) who did not want to be vaccinated. In contrast, vaccine deniers drop to a minimum among those who are informed by the traditional media – radio, television or the press.
At a crucial and extremely critical time for humanity, “traditional media” appear powerless in the face of the storm created by social media. The anti-systemic trend they are faced with does not require any effort (not that traditional media don’t have any share of responsibility for their lack of reliability). The trend is easily digested in its irrationality and is reassuring in its argument. It frees people from any thought process, it does not burden with ambiguities or dilemmas. Death may be waiting around the corner, but who cares about the consequences?
In a world that invests increasingly in followers and less so in readers, the Covid variants are not just about the pandemic. The question arises effortlessly: What is more dangerous, the variants or the deniers?