Top three vaccine-related tweets show vaccine critics are far from censored
We found that the top three vaccine-related tweets for the past month included a tweet that was blatantly false, one that was misleading, and another that seemed to promote conspiracy thinking.
We found the top three most retweeted tweets were from DrEliDavid, RealCandaceO, and RobertKennedyJr. These tweets contained everything from completely false claims to misleading presentation to conspiracy-thinking.
We were disappointed to find that these were the most retweeted vaccine-related tweets and hope this can inform both Twitter and put to rest the false claim that vaccine critics have been silenced. On the contrary, it would appear they dominate the conversation despite being a small minority of the population.
Top 3 vaccine-related tweets by retweet count
Most retweeted tweet from November 13 to December 12, 2021 came from user DrEliDavid. It contained misinformation about Israel requiring a 4th dose.
Hareetz reported on December 13, 2021 on the topic of a 4th dose:
The Health Ministry's vaccination committee recommended overnight into Monday against administering a fourth vaccination to the general population, including immunocompromised people.
David does not appear to have a medical background and sits on Forbes Tech Council. We found no clear correction to his earlier tweet misinforming about the 4th dose. David appears to have continued in the same vein writing on December 12, “Israeli government decided to tighten the restrictions on the unvaccinated to fight Omicron.”
The same day as this post, Reuters reported:
Israeli researchers said on Saturday they found that a three-shot course of the Pfizer/BioNTech (PFE.N), (22UAy.DE) COVID-19 vaccine provided significant protection against the new Omicron variant.
The findings were similar to those presented by BioNTech and Pfizer earlier in the week, which were an early signal that booster shots could be key to protect against infection from the newly identified variant.
This second most retweeted tweet -- in the context of this author's past vaccine-related tweets -- seems to imply that there is something abnormal about booster shots with a rapidly mutating virus. On Sept 23, this author said, "A reminder that Covid is not about science, it’s about compliance," despite evidence to the contrary and booster shots being a normal part of vaccination.
Most vaccines require multiple doses initially along with regular booster shots, like MMR and DTaP or DT, the tetanus vaccine for those under and over the age of seven respectively, vaccines. Our immune response improves with more doses, not unlike our memory improving with more lessons. Boosters are predictable but not because of a nefarious plot. Rather, multiple doses were foreseeable because we have the same immune systems we had before the pandemic.
In a tweet, Robert Kennedy Jr. under his username RobertKennedyJr, seemed to imply that a man who died following the Covid vaccine had died because of the vaccine. Kennedy is a member of the Disinformation Dozen that generated 65% of vaccine-related disinformation found on social media platforms earlier in 2021.
Kennedy framed the situation in a way that seemed to say the vaccine caused the death without evidence. This is especially problematic given that the man, Bobby Bolin, had COPA syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease that has been found to cause severe pulmonary fibrosis.
Fibrosis can be translated into plain language as scarring in the lungs. This scarring is known to cause pulmonary hypertension -- high blood pressure in the lungs -- regularly. Mayo Clinic found that “Having pulmonary hypertension increases the risk of blood clots in the small arteries in the lungs.”
A blood clot in the lungs is what reportedly caused Bolin’s death. While COPA syndrome is rare, there are other cases of COPA syndrome sufferers who had pulmonary embolisms. Kennedy further neglected to mention the millions of safe doses administered.
Johns Hopkins Medicine addresses the topic in a post on Covid vaccine safety.
As of October 2021, nearly 405 million doses of the vaccines have been given. More than 10 months of data show the vaccines are safe and effective at preventing serious disease or death due to COVID-19. Additional shots and boosters are also being authorized for certain groups to make the protection even stronger.
We searched tweets containing “vaccine” from November 13 to December 12, 2021 for verified Twitter accounts using the WeVerify.eu plugin Twitter SNA feature, which collects historical Twitter data. The search returned 2,746 tweets, 293,789 retweets, and 979,559 likes. The WeVerify app automatically reports basic metrics concerning the data like the most retweeted tweets, most liked tweets, and most active users.
Hoaxlines ranked tweets based on the number of retweets received, so the “top” tweets reflect tweets with the most retweets for tweets containing “vaccine.”