Polish online media and vaccines against COVID-19. Which of them gained popularity in the Polish information space? What vaccines have not been mentioned in any article?

Centrum Analiz Propagandy i Dezinformacji
Author: Centrum Analiz Propagandy i DezinformacjiEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In recent months, the Center for Propaganda and Disinformation Analysis has been monitoring selected Polish and Russian online media for information on the coronavirus vaccine. In the first part of the report: “COVID-19 vaccines in Polish- and Russian-language online media outlets: specifics and correlation between them in Polish and Russian information spaces”, the situation in Polish cyberspace in the period: 10.05-04.07.2021 was analyzed.

Source: Own elaboration, Center for Propaganda and Disinformation Analysis

The monitoring concerned selected, the most opinion-forming news services in Poland: onet.pl, wp.pl, interia.pl, wpolityce.pl, gazeta.pl. The collected data allowed for a detailed analysis of articles on the recently developed COVID-19 vaccine and vaccination. The texts appearing on the Internet have been analyzed both in terms of quantity and quality.

Source: Own elaboration, Center for Propaganda and Disinformation Analysis

The most important conclusions resulting from the research:

- Regardless of the analyzed news portal, the largest number of articles in the analyzed time period (10.05-04.07.2021) concerned mainly vaccines produced in the West, i.e. Pfizer (a total of 685 publications), AstraZeneca (565), Moderna (399) and Johnson & Johnson (321);

- Russian (Sputnik V – 48, EpiVacCorona – 3) and Chinese (Sinovac – 18, Cansino – 17, Sinopharm – 15) preparations attracted much less attention from Polish media;

- No articles on Chinese preparations Convidecia and Vero or the Kazakh QazVac appeared in any of the surveyed news sites;

- With each successive week there was a noticeable downward trend in the number of published articles on coronavirus vaccines;

- Research on the Polish information space conducted between 10.05 and 04.07.2021 shows that the Polish online media showed a neutral attitude towards the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccination. The published articles concerned both the situation in the country and vaccine diplomacy abroad;

- The most popular topic was vaccine-related complications (124 mentions in total), especially the dominant one in May due to reports of deaths in the vaccinated or overdoses of the preparation being injected.

READ THE FULL REPORT: This article is part of the “ COVID-19 vaccines in Polish- and Russian-language online media outlets: specifics and correlation between them in Polish and Russian information spaces” report that we will publish shortly.

Methodology

The Center for Propaganda and Disinformation Analysis on 10.05-29.08.2021 monitored the Polish and Russian information space for information on vaccines against COVID-19. The study used the Pulsar online information monitoring and analysis platform. For the purposes of this analysis, 5 online mainstream media from Poland and Russia were selected. Polish media was selected on the basis of the ranking of the most opinion-forming internet portals in 2020 , with 5 other information portals, bypassing the industry ones: onet.pl, wp.pl, interia.pl, wpolityce.pl and gazeta.pl. Russian media was selected on the basis of the ranking of the most opinion-forming web portals in 2020 with nationwide coverage, available in the Pulsar’s media database: Rbc.ru, Gazeta .ru, Lenta.ru, Kp.ru and Fontanka.ru.

An optimized list of keywords representing the names of individual vaccines or their producers was used for monitoring.

For the Polish information space:

AstraZeneca OR Vaxzevria OR "Astra Zeneca" OR CanSino OR Convidecia OR Ad5-nCoV OR Covaxin OR BBV152 OR "Bharat Biotech" OR CureVac OR CVnCoV OR Johnson & Johnson OR "Johnson & Johnson" OR J&J OR Jansen OR Janssen OR Moderna OR mRNA-1273 Novavax OR NVX-CoV2373 OR Pfizer OR BioNTech OR BioNTech-Pfizer OR Pfizer-BioNTech OR BNT162 OR Sputnik OR Sinovac OR CoronaVac OR Sinopharm OR Vero OR EpiVacCorona OR CoviVac OR QazVac OR QazCovid-in

For the Russian information space:

AstraZeneca OR Vaxzevria OR "Astra Zeneca" OR CanSino OR CanSino-Biologics OR Convidecia OR Ad5-nCoV OR Covaxin OR BBV152 OR "Bharat Biotech" OR CureVac OR CVnCoV OR Johnson & Johnson OR "Johnson & Johnson" OR J&J OR Jansen OR Janssen OR Moderna mRNA-1273 OR Novavax OR NVX-CoV2373 OR Pfizer OR BioNTech OR BioNTech-Pfizer OR Pfizer-BioNTech OR BNT162 OR Sputnik OR Sinovac OR CoronaVac OR Sinopharm OR Vero OR EpiVacCorona OR CoviVac OR QazVac OR QazCанкеке OR енсекеке OR енсекекаЗ Конвиденция OR OR "Джонсон и Джонсон" OR "МодернаПфайзер OR OR OR Синофарм "клетки ВероСиновак OR OR OR Коронавак "Спутник V" OR "Спутник Лайт" OR ЭпиВакКорона КовиВак OR OR OR КазВак КазКовид-ин

In both cases, the same list of vaccines and their producers were used. The differences in the spelling result only from the specificity of both information spaces, the commonality of proper names, and in the case of the Russian information space also the use of English and Russian equivalents of names of vaccines and their producers.

For further analysis, both quantitative and qualitative, only articles with at least one name of the vaccine or producer were selected. Articles in which the name of the vaccine or the producer were included in elements of the website other than the content of the article (e.g. recommended links to other articles) were identified and rejected as false positives and were not included in the article itself. The slogan "Sputnik" turned out to be a methodological challenge, both in the Polish and Russian information space, which, due to its prevalence in terms other than the name of the vaccine, gave relatively many false-positive results. Therefore, double - automatic and manual - verification of all results obtained in the Pulsar platform was used to eliminate articles that did not relate to the topic of COVID-19 vaccines.

Each article was then categorized according to the name of the vaccine or producer that appeared in the publication: AstraZeneca, CanSino, Convidecia, Covaxin, CoviVac, CureVac, EpiVacCorona, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer, QazVac, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Sputnik V, Vero Cell. An individual article may have been assigned to more than one category. In the case of the Russian information space, the "Sputnik" category has been split into "Sputnik V" and "Sputnik Light". This is due to the prevalence of information about both Russian vaccines in the local media, which does not apply to the Polish media.

Similarly, all articles were assigned to the category: country of producer of individual vaccines. For the purposes of this analysis, a simplified assignment of vaccines and their producers to the producer's country was adopted: AstraZeneca - Great Britain, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer and Novavax - USA, CureVac - Germany, CoviVac, EpiVacCorona, Sputnik V and Sputnik Light - Russia, QazVac - Kazakhstan, CanSino, Convidecia, Sinopharm, Sinovac and Vero Cell - China, Covaxin - India.

The other categories of analysis are:

- attitude towards vaccines and vaccination against COVID-19 (pro-vaccine products in the case of promoting vaccination, anti-vaccine products in the case of discouraging vaccination, and neutral in the case of informational articles without a label on vaccines);

- reference to the situation in Poland / Russia or abroad in the context of COVID-19 vaccines;

- qualitative analysis related to the content of monitored articles.

The publication is part of the report: ‘COVID-19 vaccines in Polish- and Russian-language online media outlets: specifics and correlation between them in Polish and Russian information spaces’.  This report has been prepared with support from IRI's Beacon Project. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of IRI.