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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 Admin Announces First COVID Shots For Kids Under 5 Likely By June 21

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Covid-19 vaccination record card with syringe and vial

On Thursday, the Biden administration announced that children under 5 will be able to get their first COVID-19 vaccination doses as soon as June 21, if regulators authorize the shots for this age group as expected.

According to the Associated Press, White House COVID-19 coordinator Ashish Jha “said the Food and Drug Administration’s outside panel of advisers will meet on June 14-15 to evaluate the Pfizer and Moderna shots for younger kids. Shipments to doctors’ offices and pediatric care facilities would begin soon after FDA authorization, with the first shots possible the following week.”

Jha added that states can begin placing orders for the pediatric vaccines on Friday and the administration will initially have 10 million doses available.

“Our expectation is that within weeks every parent who wants their child to get vaccinated will be able to get an appointment,” Jha said. “At the end of the day we all want to move fast, but we’ve got to get it right.”

The news comes the week after Pfizer announced that three doses of their vaccine offers strong protection against COVID-19 in children under 5.  However, according to former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a third dose is unnecessary because the vaccines do not prevent infection.

“I think the decision matrix has changed around the vaccine for [ages] 6 months to 4 years old and so far as we know that the vaccine isn’t as protective at preventing infection,” Gottlieb said. “Previously, we had data showing that the childhood vaccine for 6 months to 4 years wasn’t as protective against infection as the adult vaccine.”

“That’s the reason why they pushed it out and asked for that third dose. But now, if the goal of the vaccine is to get baseline immunity in the kids to prevent really bad outcomes, and you’re really not using the vaccine as a tool to prevent infection in the first place, two doses could do that,” he added.

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COVID-19

Kamala Harris Tests Positive For COVID-19

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Kamala Harris

On Tuesday, the White House announced that Vice President Kamala Harris has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not currently showing symptoms.

“Today, Vice President Harris tested positive for COVID-19 on rapid and PCR tests,” said Kirsten Allen, press secretary to the vice president. “She has exhibited no symptoms, will isolate and continue to work from the Vice President’s residence. She has not been a close contact to the President or First Lady due to their respective recent travel schedules. She will follow CDC guidelines and the advice of her physicians. The Vice President will return to the White House when she tests negative.”

Harris wrote on Twitter that she was going to continue to isolate and is showing no symptoms.

“Today I tested positive for COVID-19. I have no symptoms, and I will continue to isolate and follow CDC guidelines. I’m grateful to be both vaccinated and boosted,” Harris tweeted.

Harris last reportedly saw President Biden at the Easter Egg Roll on April 18 before leaving for California, which she returned from on April 25.

The vice president has been vaccinated against COVID-19 and has received two booster shots, receiving the second booster on April 1.

“Yesterday I received my second COVID-19 booster shot,” Harris tweeted on April 2. “We know that getting vaccinated is the best form of protection from this virus and boosters are critical in providing an additional level of protection. If you haven’t received your first booster—do it today.”

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