COVID-19 Vaccines: Polish information space using the example of articles published by Onet.pl, Wp.pl, Interia.pl, Wpolityce.pl, Gazeta.pl in the period between 2-15 August 2021.
Below are presented the partial results of the monitoring conducted by the Center for Propaganda and Disinformation Analysis as a 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” project and implemented during the period of 10 May – 29 August 2021.
Source: Own elaboration, Center for Propaganda and Disinformation Analysis
The studied news sites published a total of 148 news on vaccines. It is necessary to subtract 15 results from this number, as they were wrongly included by the monitoring software mainly for two reasons: either due to the phrase "Sputnik" within the content, which in this context was the name of the Russian news agency and not a formulation, or there were included links to other articles with names of the vaccines in their titles. More on this in the Methodology section.
The largest number of publications on vaccines appeared on wpolityce.pl (42 news), followed by interia.pl (35), onet.pl (31) and gazeta.pl (27), and the least on wp.pl (13).
Across all the websites, most attention was given to Pfizer (101 mentions), AstraZeneca (74), Moderna (65), and J&J (60). Much less often was there a coverage on the Russian vaccines (Sputnik was mentioned 7 times, while EpiVacCorona once), Chinese ones (Sinopharm – 6, CoviVac – 1) and the American Novavax (1).
In contrast to the previous month, more news focused on domestic affairs (74 news) rather than foreign affairs (65).
In the studied media, there were four news of a pro-vaccine nature. They included participation rules in the nationwide vaccine lottery and the #HomeStretch [#OstatniaProsta] government ad. When it comes to anti-vaccine content, there were 16 of them and were related to various kinds of incidents in Poland and abroad. An example of this isthe incident in Lower Saxony in Germany, where a nurse was injecting the patients with saline solution instead of Comirnaty vaccine, or anti-vaccinators breaking into an orphanage in Aleksandrów Kujawski.
It is also worth mentioning the rather unfortunate choice for the title of one of the monitored articles – "Silesia. The vaccine offensive, vaccination points near, among others, parishes" [Śląskie. Ofensywa szczepionkowa, punkty m.in. przy parafiach] (M. Sikora, Śląskie. Ofensywa szczepionkowa, punkty m.in. przy parafiach, WP Wiadomości, 02.08.2021). The word 'offensive' has a pejorative connotation and may suggest that introducing mobile vaccination points and increasing the accessibility for the residents is something negative. The content of the article is neutral, but the title itself could have been a reason to gather the audience with anti-vaccine beliefs and reach the part of the social media where such views are being spread.
Source: Own elaboration, Center for Propaganda and Disinformation Analysis
Similarly to July 2021, in this particular monitoring period the delta variant was still the most widely discussed topic in the media (23 mentions), although the issue involving booster shots also gained publicity (21). In addition, the articles concerned the following: conspiracies regarding COVD-19 (10 news) and the so-called covid passports (9). Eight publications dealt with the subject of the fourth wave, pandemic restrictions and side effects, and tests for coronavirus (6 publications each). Just like last month, the least covered topic was segregation resulting from immunizations (3 news).
The dominant threads were the following:
- Anti-vaccine campaign in Poland and Europe;
- M. Podolski, Kamraci. Kulisy wtargnięcia antyszczepionkowców do domu dziecka w Aleksandrowie Kujawskim, Onet, 04.08.2021.
- S. Bagińska, Ataki antyszczepionkowców. Premier podjął ważną decyzję, WP Wiadomości, 10.08.2021.
- Facebook zablokował rosyjską firmę. Konta rozsiewały fake newsy i antyszczepionkowe teorie, Interia Wydarzenia, 11.08.2021.
- Debate on the introduction of the third dose of two-dose vaccines in Europe – recommendations from Moderna and Pfizer;
- WHO chce opóźnić wprowadzenie dawek przypominających szczepionek przeciw COVID-19, Interia Wydarzenia, 04.08.2021.
- Co z trzecią dawką szczepionki dla osób ze słabszą odpornością? Kraska: Nie ma rekomendacji, Gazeta.pl, 04.08.2021.
- U. Ziemska, Moderna: Przed sezonem zimowym wskazane byłoby podawanie trzeciej dawki szczepionki, Gazeta.pl, 06.08.2021.
- Debate on compulsory vaccinations in Polish schools (N. Durman, Szczepienia na COVID-19. Kurator oświaty Barbara Nowak grzmi: to doprowadzi do wojny polsko-polskiej, WP Wiadomości, 04.08.2021);
- Approval of the contract with Novavax by the European Commission (Komisja Europejska zatwierdziła kontrakt z firmą Novavax na 200 milionów dawek szczepionki, Interia Wydarzenia, 04.08.2021);
- Pope Francis obtaining a COVID-19 passport;
- Agencja prasowa: Papież Franciszek ma przepustkę Covid-19. Czy uczestnicy audiencji również będą musieli okazać tzw. Green Pass?, wPolityce.pl, 08.08.2021.
- Papież Franciszek uzyskał covidową przepustkę, Onet Wiadomości, 08.08.2021.
- Media: Papież ma przepustkę COVID-19, Interia Wydarzenia, 08.08.2021.
- A new set of restrictions introduced in, among others, Morocco, Croatia, Israel and France;
- Od dziś we Francji obowiązuje rozszerzony paszport sanitarny. Dokument jest wymagany m.in. w środkach transportu i galeriach, wPolityce.pl, 09.09.2021.
- I. Nestoriuk, Wakacje 2021. Maroko wprowadza nowe obostrzenia. Godzina policyjna także dla turystów, Gazeta.pl, 03.08.2021.
- Izrael: Wzrost zakażeń wariantem Delta. Rząd wprowadza nowe obostrzenia, Interia Wydarzenia, 12.08.2021.
- Vaccine donation from Poland to Australia and Taiwan;
- Szczepionki z Polski trafią na Tajwan? Potrzeba milionów dawek, Interia Wydarzenia, 04.08.2021.
- B. Kołodziejczyk, Australia dziękuje premierowi Morawieckiemu. Wpis ambasadora, WP Wiadomości, 15.08.2021.
In the analysed monitoring period, the Polish information space was dominated by thenews about incidents incited by anti-vaccination communities. In many cases, they put the health and safety of vaccinated people(the case of a nurse from Lower Saxony, children from an orphanage in Aleksandrów Kujawski) or medical staff (an attack on a vaccine bus in Gdynia) at risk.
Such articles could indicate to the readers that this is a community which, despite claiming to be protecting the citizens from systemic “experiments” and “manipulation”, paradoxically pose a threat themselves, as evidenced by above mentioned cases.
At the same time, information about the deteriorating situation in the face of the delta variant in countries such as Israel, previously presented as a prime example of the effectiveness of mass immunization, may provide an argument against vaccination.
Furthermore, the news about AstraZeneca and Pfizer dealing with leftover vaccines to such an extent that the Polish government decided to send surplus doses abroad may suggest that these are formulations of questionable effectiveness and could potentially be used as another excuse for their skeptics.
Author: Raffaella Margaryan
Editorial supervision: Marta Kowalska
Graphic layout: Katarzyna Rogala
READ THE FULL REPORT: The article 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”, which we are about to publish soon.
- COVID-19 Vaccines: Polish information space in the period between 10 May and 23 May 2021
- COVID-19 Vaccines: Polish information space in the period between 24 May and 6 June 2021
- COVID-19 Vaccines: Polish information space in the period between 7-20 June 2021
- COVID-19 Vaccines: Polish information space in the period between 21 June and 4 July 2021
- COVID-19 Vaccines: Polish information space in the period between 5-18 July 2021
- COVID-19 Vaccines: Polish information space in the period between 19 July and 1 August 2021
- COVID-19 Vaccines: Polish information space in the period between 16-29 August 2021
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.