The Washington Post posted an article to Twitter on Wednesday claiming that a “Volunteer in Oxford coronavirus vaccine trial dies.”
Volunteer in Oxford coronavirus vaccine trial dies https://t.co/xsp0iTPX4T
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) October 21, 2020
While the Twitter caption for the article is jarring and reads as a major cause for concern, once clicked on, the full headline reveals that this abbreviated spin is misleading.
“Volunteer in Oxford coronavirus vaccine trial dies, reportedly did not receive experimental vaccine,” the headline on the WaPo website reads.
The article goes on to note that the volunteer referred to in the tweet was reportedly in a control group in the trial that did not receive the vaccine. The Brazilian died after contracting COVID-19.
This important fact, however, doesn’t appear in the article until the third paragraph. The first two paragraphs, including the hook for the story, purposefully avoid this key fact.
“A Brazilian who participated in the clinical trial of an experimental coronavirus vaccine has died, officials here said Wednesday,” the article reads.
“Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency, which is overseeing multiple vaccine trials in a country suffering one of the world’s worst outbreaks, said the individual volunteered to receive the vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University and produced by AstraZeneca,” it continues.
Many Twitter users noted that this spin by the Post is misleading to readers, irresponsible, and injured the integrity of the story.
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) October 21, 2020
Responsible journalism would have pointed out in the headline (or at least the tweet) that the volunteer had been given a placebo https://t.co/E2ducKQSgv
— David Cochrane (@davidcochrane) October 22, 2020
Very irresponsible that this tweet omits the fact that the volunteer was reportedly *in the control group* https://t.co/x9BCNfD4GE
— Gregg Carlstrom (@glcarlstrom) October 22, 2020
*who was in a control group and didn’t receive the vaccine
Pretty staggering how irresponsible this is. https://t.co/rzIKTws30F
— Ben Thompson (@benthompson) October 22, 2020
Pretty irresponsible to not include this in the tweet: "…the volunteer was in a control group that did not receive the experimental vaccine and died of covid-19." https://t.co/a6BEQFbqqM
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) October 22, 2020
Misleading headline with an intention to spread despair. The volunteer who died was part of the control group, as in did not receive the vaccine https://t.co/IIpgJTYJfe
— Ram (@ramprasad_c) October 22, 2020
He got the placebo. Maybe mention that? https://t.co/V2sKaAeC9T
— Tim Fullerton (@TimFullerton) October 21, 2020
This anti-vaccine spin has been a popular talking point among media outlets and Democrats.
On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged Americans to be “skeptical” of a vaccine manufactured and approved under the Trump Administration.
“You are going to say to the American people, now, here’s a vaccine, it is new, it was done quickly, but trust this federal administration and their health administration that it’s safe? And we’re not 100% sure of the consequences? I think it’s going to be a very skeptical American public about taking the vaccine and it should be.”
Democratic VP Nominee Kamala Harris also cast suspicion over a vaccine produced by the Trump administration during the vice presidential debate, saying she doesn’t trust the president enough to get the vaccine herself.
“If the public health professionals, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely,” Harris said. “If Donald Trump tells us to take it, I’m not taking it.”
A poll released by STAT-Harris shows that American willingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine is falling after these pushes by Democrats and their corporate media echo chambers have expressed skepticism of its safety and urged Americans to avoid it if approved.
According to the poll, 69 percent of the U.S. public said they would get the COVID-19 vaccine “as soon as a vaccine was available” in mid-August, but only 58 percent said the same thing in October.