Britain's Labour Party is urging a crack down on anti-vaccine discussions online, calling for the government to financially and criminally punish social media companies for allowing such content to be hosted.
The push from the United Kingdom's official Opposition comes as new developments surrounding a COVID-19 vaccine have made headlines recently. Last week, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer released the news of its 90 per cent effective vaccine. This week, Moderna announced its variant was even more effective, claiming it offered 94.5 per cent protection.
The government, in return, said that it was taking the issue “extremely seriously,” citing commitments it had gained from Facebook, Twitter and Google to combat social media posts critical of vaccines.
Johnathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said such content was “exploiting people's fears, their mistrust of institutions and governments and spreading poison and harm.”
Legitimate questions would arise, Ashworth said, citing circumstances regarding levels of immunity and whether the vaccine would be an appropriate choice for some individuals with chronic health conditions.
“There's nothing wrong with asking those questions and strong public health messaging from the government, reinforced by us, will allay those fears,” he added.
However, an estimated 30 per cent of people in the U.K. have said they would consider refusing a vaccine if one was offered, stoking fears that national protection could be hindered.
The Labour Party sent a message to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden pointing a finger at the anti-vaccination groups online that have hundreds of thousands of members as stoking fea and doubt over a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
Europe is currently mired in the midst of its second wave of COVID-19, with a number of countries enacting more restrictions on the public. The United Kingdom reported more than 50,000 new cases over the weekend, as well as more than 600 deaths.