Social media posts have falsely claimed that a recent uptick in hepatitis among children is due to the coronavirus vaccine, as per reports.
According to health agencies monitoring the situation, the majority of the children impacted by the disease were under five years old and weren’t vaccinated. But that hasn’t stopped the claim from proliferating on social media.
On April 5, the World Health Organisation was informed of 10 cases of hepatitis in children under the age of 10 in Scotland. By April 8, around 74 cases had been identified in the United Kingdom. The WHO continues to receive over dozens of reports of cases of childhood hepatitis, with one cases detected in a 10-year-old child in Belgium.
It is still unclear exactly the cause of the spike in cases. The WHO has posited that it could be due to the adenovirus, which usually causes a cold. According to Belgian virologist Steven Van Gucht, no link has been established between the coronavirus vaccine and hepatitis.
Some social media posts have assumed about the effects of lockdown on children, claiming that children are usually exposed to infections, but the lockdowns limited exposure, leading to exaggerated reactions to the adenovirus. Yet this theory lacks a medical basis.
However, the lack of substantiated explanations leaves space for misinformation, eroding trust in institutions and institutions charged with safeguarding public welfare.
Once distrust takes root, it can be hard to escape from confirmation bias, a pattern that makes people look for information that confirms what they already believe.
Professor Gina Neff, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, said, “When we search online, we feel as if we’re looking at a library and all the world’s information is available to us.”
Moreover, our search history influences our online searches, which perpetuate the circulation of misleading information.