More than 600,000 Americans have already lost their lives from COVID-19 and our epidemic is still far from over. The virus has an ally in the forms of defiance—defiance against social distancing, contact tracing, masks, and most recently, vaccines. Such opposition here concentrates mostly in deep red states in the South, the Heartland, and Mountain West regions—areas where COVID-19 is rising yet again, especially where vaccinations rates are low and the Delta variant dominates.
This week, the Biden administration recognized how misinformation contributes to the staggering public health impact of COVID-19, with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issuing his first advisory, warning about the power of vaccine myths when they are amplified on social media sites, and the president himself warning about the spread of misinformation and calling on tech and social media companies in general, and Facebook in particular, to work harder to limit it.
But those calls are insufficient, and fail to acknowledge how the anti-vaccine movement has expanded and globalized into an anti-science evil empire. Taking this on will require something far more ambitious.