US Military Ran A Secret Anti-Vax Campaign

An investigation has revealed that the US military carried out a covert anti-vaccine campaign at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unreported before, the Pentagon's secret operation aimed to sow doubts about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, particularly in the Philippines to combat Beijing's rising global influence.

Through fake internet accounts posing as Filipinos and residents of other nations, the US military's efforts sought to discredit aid from China, leveraging this as a strategy to gain geopolitical leverage. The repeated social media posts questioned the quality of Chinese-supplied face masks, test kits, and the Sinovac vaccine.

This misinformation effort spanned multiple countries intending to buy Chinese vaccines and was tailored to local audiences in Central Asia and the Middle East in different languages, promoting fear about vaccines among Muslims too. A particular focus was placed on stoking fears that the vaccines contained pork gelatin, which is forbidden under Islamic law.

Reuters traced at least 300 such accounts on X, formerly Twitter, with a significant number echoing the message "China is the virus." These accounts, created in the summer of 2020, were later removed by the platform after queries about their authenticity.

The operation, which started under former President Donald Trump and continued into Joe Biden’s presidency, has drawn severe criticism.

Health officials and experts have condemned the campaign, suggesting it may have led to unnecessary COVID-19 infections and deaths by fostering vaccine hesitancy globally.

This controversial program was eventually halted by the Biden administration in spring 2021 following a directive that also prompted an internal Pentagon review.

The US military is legally prohibited from targeting Americans with propaganda, and the Reuters investigation found no evidence that the Pentagon's influence operation breached this regulation.