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COVID-19

Meta Removed Over 600 Accounts Linked to China’s Disinformation Efforts on COVID

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China Virus

Meta, formerly the Facebook Company, announced Wednesday that it has removed over 600 Facebook and Instagram accounts that were spreading false information claiming the United States pressured the World Health Organization (WHO) to blame COVID on China.

The 600 accounts are linked to a Chinese influence operation, and “though Meta said the network was unsuccessful, it marks yet another COVID disinformation campaign instigated by China in an effort to discredit the U.S.” reports Axios.

In its Adversarial Threat Report, Meta said “in essence, this campaign was a hall of mirrors, endlessly reflecting a single fake persona…this is the first time we have observed an operation that included a coordinated cluster of state employees to amplify itself in this way.”

The details are that an account of a fake persona claiming to be a Swiss biologist was created in July. The account was created two days after it was reported that the Chinese government had rejected a WHO plan for the second phase to continue studying the origins of the COVID-19 virus.

The account posted a message alleging that “WHO sources and a number of fellow researchers” had complained of “enormous pressure and even intimidation” from the United States. Axios details what happened next:

•   Within two days, the post had circulated among hundreds of accounts and some Chinese state media, according to Meta.

•   A number of these accounts had ties to individuals at the firm Sichuan Silence Information Technology and some Chinese state infrastructure companies, though Meta said it had not identified a connection between Sichuan Silence Information Technology and the Chinese government.

•   The campaign targeted English-speaking audiences in the U.S. and the U.K., as well as Chinese-speaking audiences in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet.

After reviewing reports about the original fake account, Meta removed 524 Facebook accounts, 20 pages, four groups and 86 accounts on Instagram.

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COVID-19

Biden Says He Doesn’t Think COVID Is ‘Here To Stay’

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Joe Biden

On Friday, President Biden said he doesn’t think that COVID-19 is here to stay, but added that he does think the virus will remain around the world.

“No, I don’t think COVID is here to stay, but having COVID in the environment here and in the world is probably here to stay,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
“COVID as we’re dealing with it now is not here to stay, the normal doesn’t have to be. We have so many more tools we developed and we continue to develop that can contain COVID and other strains of COVID,” he added.

Biden’s comments come shortly after six of his former health advisers, who helped him with the COVID-19 pandemic during his presidential transition, published three opinion articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association urging Biden to change his strategy in responding to COVID-19 to one accepting that the virus was here to stay and learning how to live with it.

“They say the first thing the administration needs to do is take a broader vision, by recognizing that Covid-19 is here to stay. In one article, Dr. Emanuel and two co-authors — Michael T. Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease expert at New York University — pointedly note that in July, Mr. Biden proclaimed that ‘we’ve gained the upper hand against this virus,’ which in retrospect was clearly not the case,” The New York Times reported.

Biden’s comments suggest he has not yet listened to the advice of these experts, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened to reaching over 1 million new daily cases.

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COVID-19

Former COVID Advisory Board tells Biden corona now ‘one of several circulating respiratory virus’ like flu

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Covid-19

Doctors who once advised President Biden on how to handle the coronavirus are now telling him to change his strategy via a series of published articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The six doctors, Drs. Ezekiel Emanuel, Michael Osterholm, Celine Gounder, David Michaels, Rick Bright and Luciana Borio were members of the advisory board that worked with Biden during his transition period before taking office.

“As the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 demonstrates, COVID-19 is here to stay” and therefore Biden’s national strategy must be “updated.”

“The goal for the ‘new normal’ with COVID-19 does not include eradication or elimination, eg, the ‘zero COVID’ strategy. Neither COVID-19 vaccination nor infection appears to confer lifelong immunity,” they wrote.

“Current vaccines do not offer sterilizing immunity against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Infectious diseases cannot be eradicated when there is limited long-term immunity following infection or vaccination or nonhuman reservoirs of infection.”

The “new normal,” they explained, should be “recognizing that SARS-CoV-2 is but one of several circulating respiratory viruses that include influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and more.”

The doctors also pointed out there are many treatments with varying levels of effectiveness such as remdesevir and dexamethasone, monoclonal antibody treatment, and oral treatments like Molnupiravir and Paxlovid.

“Finally,” Fox News reports, they said it is imperative “to rebuild trust in public health institutions and a belief in collective action in service of public health.”

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