Russia's anti-vax propaganda is tantamount to a declaration of war

As I’ve previously described, Russia regularly conducts health-related disinformation and propaganda campaigns intended to humiliate or disparage the country’s foreign enemies. In the 1980s, the Soviet Union concocted an elaborate disinformation scheme to blame the appearance of HIV and AIDS on U.S. military research. They first planted the story in a sympathetic Indian newspaper, then followed it up with other fake stories that cited the initial report…

A study published by academics in 2018, “Weaponized Health Communication: Twitter Bots and Russian Trolls Amplify the Vaccine Debate,” found that thousands of Russian social media accounts were spreading anti-vaccine messaging. From an examination of almost two million tweets posted between 2014 and 2017, the researchers found that Russian troll accounts were significantly more likely to tweet about vaccination than were Twitter users generally. They noted that Russian tweets like, “Apparently only the elite get ‘clean’ #vaccines. And what do we, normal ppl, get?!” seem intended to exacerbate socioeconomic tensions in the United States…

Similar to the case of COVID-19 vaccines, Russia’s disinformation about U.S.-dominant scientific and technological sectors such as fracking and genetic engineering is intended solely to damage American interests. The actions of the Russians and their U.S.-based “useful idiots,” are in many ways a throwback to the malevolence of the Stalin era: injure and kill Americans, promote discord, create mistrust of U.S.-dominant industries, and damage our health, ability to innovate, and productivity. These attacks are growing in scale, sophistication, and effectiveness. Isn’t it time we did something about it?