The other night, midway through watching a clip from “Plandemic” — a documentary that went viral on social media last week, spreading baseless lies about the coronavirus to millions of Americans overnight — I had a terrifying thought:

美国社交媒体上疯传一部名叫《瘟疫大计划》的纪录片,一夜之间向成百上千万美国人传播关于新冠病毒毫无根据的谣言。看到人们对谣言盲从盲信,我不禁产生了一个可怕的想法:

What if we get a Covid-19 vaccine and half the country refuses to take it?

即使我们研发出了新冠疫苗,但如果全美有一半人拒绝接种疫苗该怎么办?




First, because of the pandemic’s urgency, any promising Covid-19 vaccine is likely to be fast-tracked through the testing and approval process. It may not go through years of clinical trials and careful studies of possible long-term side effects, the way other drugs do. That could create an opening for anti-vaccine activists to claim that it is untested and dangerous, and to spin reasonable concerns about the vaccine into widespread, unfounded fears about its safety.

首先,由于疫情的紧迫性,任何有希望的疫苗都可能走快速通道通过测试和批准程序。它可能不会像其他药物那样,经过多年临床试验和对可能的长期副作用的仔细研究。这可能会给反疫苗活动者提供机会,他们会宣称疫苗未经测试且具备危险性,并将民众对疫苗的合理担忧转化为对其安全性的广泛、毫无根据的怀疑。


Third, if and when a Covid-19 vaccine is approved for widespread use, people may be required to take it before being allowed to fly on certain airlines, attend certain schools or enter certain businesses. That’s a good idea, public health-wise, but it would play into some of the worst fears of the anti-vaccine movement.

第三,如果新冠病毒疫苗被批准广泛使用,一些航空公司、学校或营业场所可能要求人们接种疫苗才能进入。就公众健康而言,这是个好主意,但它会给反疫苗运动带来口实。

Mandatory vaccination has been an especially potent talking point for anti-vaccine activists, some of whom have rebranded themselves “pro-choice” when it comes to vaccines. And years of battling states and school districts over mandatory vaccine policies have given them a playbook for creating a tangle of legal roadblocks and damaging publicity campaigns.

反疫苗活动者一直将强制疫苗接种作为一个舆论焦点,当谈到疫苗时,他们中的一些人会标榜自己“支持民众自由选择接种疫苗”。多年来,多年来各州和学区在强制性疫苗政策上的斗争,给了反疫苗活动者制造法律障碍,进行诋毁宣传活动的剧本和经验。

I wanted to understand if my fears about a vaccine-related information war were valid, so I reached out to Neil Johnson and Rhys Leahy, two researchers at George Washington University. On Wednesday, their study of the online anti-vaccine movement was published in the science journal Nature.

我想知道我对疫苗信息战的担忧是否有道理,于是联系了华盛顿大学的两位研究员——尼尔·约翰逊(Neil Johnson)和里斯·莱希(Rhys Leahy),他们对网上反疫苗运动的研究于周三发表在科学杂志《自然》上。

The study, which mapped the vaccine conversation on Facebook during the 2019 measles outbreak, found that there were nearly three times as many active anti-vaccination communities as pro-vaccination communities. In addition, they found that while pro-vaccine pages tended to have more followers, anti-vaccine pages were faster-growing.

该研究追溯了2019年麻疹爆发期间脸书上关于疫苗的讨论,发现活跃的反疫苗团体几乎是支持疫苗团体的三倍。此外,他们发现,虽然支持疫苗团体的成员往往有更多关注者,但反疫苗团体的话题讨论增长速度更快。

The researchers found that Facebook pages pushing accurate pro-vaccine information were mostly clustered in an insular group, while the anti-vaccine pages treated vaccine resistance as a kind of political campaign, and used different messages to reach different types of undecided “voters.” A page promoting holistic health remedies might start seeding doubts about vaccines among liberal yoga moms, while a page promoting resistance to government-mandated vaccines might appeal to conservatives and libertarians.

研究人员发现,在脸书上宣传支持疫苗讨论大多集中在一个孤立的群体里;而反对疫苗的群体则把对抗疫苗当作一种政治运动,并且会使用不同的媒体平台,以便宣传吸收尚未做出决定的不同类型的“选民”(无知民众)。
一个提倡“整体 疗法”的话题可能会吸引喜欢瑜伽的妈妈们,然后向她们散播对疫苗的怀疑,而一个提倡抵制政府强制接种的话题可能会吸引保守派和自由主义者。

“Public health advocacy groups tend to be monolithic, sending one message” that vaccines are safe and effective, Ms. Leahy said. “The anti-vax movement is really diverse.”

“公共卫生部门的宣传手段往往是单一的,他们只会重复传递一个信息,”即疫苗是安全有效的,莱希说。“而反疫苗运动的宣传手段真的很多样化。”

There is some reason for hope. Recent surveys have suggested that most Americans would take a Covid-19 vaccine if one were available today. Even politicians who have expressed skepticism about vaccines in the past, including President Trump, are rooting for one that can prevent the disease. And some public health experts I spoke to said public pressure to end the pandemic and return to normal life might overpower anti-vaccine activism.

我们有理由抱有希望。最近的调查显示,如果今天就有新冠疫苗,大多数美国人都会去接种。即使是过去曾对疫苗表示怀疑的政治人士,包括特朗普总统,也在支持接种可以预防这种疾病的疫苗。我采访过的一些公共卫生专家说,公众对恢复正常生活的急切渴望可能会压倒反疫苗运动。

“People are seeing the toll of Covid-19 all around,” said Kasisomayajula Viswanath, a professor of health communication at the Harvard School of Public Health. “My guess is that if there is a successful vaccine, especially in the absence of treatment, people may discount the anti-vaccine groups.”

“人们正在认识新冠病毒的全面危害,”哈佛大学公共卫生学院健康传播教授说。“我想,如果疫苗研发成功,而且在除了疫苗没有其他治疗手段的情况下,人们可能就不去理会反疫苗群体了。”

But public acceptance of a Covid-19 vaccine is far from a sure thing. And seeing platforms like Facebook and YouTube struggle to contain the spread of videos like “Plandemic” makes me worry that when the time comes to persuade billions of people to take a critical coronavirus vaccine, our public health officials and social media companies will be outgunned by a well-oiled anti-vaccine movement that has already polluted the air with misinformation and conspiracy theories.

但公众对新型冠状病毒疫苗的接受程度还远未确定。看到脸书和油管这样的平台难以遏制《瘟疫大计划》这种造谣视频的传播,让我感到担心,如果真到需要说服数十亿人接受新冠疫苗的时候,我们的公共卫生官员和社交媒体公司,可能会敌不过一个高效运行、充满谣言和阴谋论的反疫苗运动。

We can prevent that, but only if we start laying the groundwork before it’s too late. Organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the W.H.O. need to understand the dynamics of online anti-vaccination communities and start waging a hearts-and-minds campaign to restore faith in the medical establishment while a vaccine is being developed. Social media companies need to take the threat of vaccine-related misinformation seriously and devote tremendous resources to stopping its spread. And those of us who believe in vaccines need to realize that we may not be in the majority for long and do everything we can to reach the people in our lives who might be susceptible to anti-vaccine propaganda.

我们可以防止这种情况发生,但前提是我们必须在为时已晚之前开始打好基础。美国疾病控制与预防中心和世界卫生组织等组织需要了解网上反疫苗群体的动态,并开始发起一场全身心投入的运动,在开发疫苗的同时恢复人们对医疗机构的信心。社交媒体公司需要认真对待与疫苗相关的虚假信息,并投入大量资源来阻止其传播。而我们这些相信疫苗的人需要认识到,我们的多数地位持续不了太久,并且尽我们所能去对自己生活中容易受到反疫苗宣传影响的人进行疫苗科普。

To recover from this pandemic, we need to mobilize a pro-vaccine movement that is as devoted, as internet-savvy and as compelling as the anti-vaccine movement is for its adherents. We need to do it quickly, Millions of lives and trillions of dollars in economic activity may depend not just on producing a vaccine, but on persuading people to accept it.

为了从这场疫情中恢复过来,我们需要动员一场支持疫苗的运动,这场运动要像反疫苗运动的成员一样专注、精通互联网,一样吸引民众眼球。
成百上千万人的生命和数万亿美元的经济活动可能不仅取决于疫苗生产,还取决于我们能否说服人们接受疫苗,我们必须尽快行动起来。