Catholic scientists, journalists create COVID-19 info group

Credit: Ball Lunla/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Mar 18, 2021 / 03:01 pm (CNA).- An international group of Catholic media professionals and scientists have founded a new organization to help counter misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.

The initiative includes efforts by Aleteia, I.Media, Our Sunday Visitor, and, as well as two research centers and a scientific committee. These groups will create a database so Catholic media outlets may factcheck news on the coronavirus vaccine. It will be available in seven languages.

The project is one of 11 chosen proposals by the COVID-19 Vaccine Counter-Misinformation Open Fund.

Among the scientists on the committee are José Esparza, former president of the Global Virus Network and senior public health adviser at the World Health Organization (WHO); Rodrigo Guerra, member of the Pontifical Academy of Life; and Jordi Serrano Pons, founder of UniversalDoctor and Epidemics.

The group will publish an internet audience study to better understand how media agencies around the world are reporting on the vaccination process.

In a March 16 press release, Aleteia emphasized the importance of clarifications provided by scientists, bioethicists, and theologians to help counter false vaccine information and fake news. Especially on social media, the news organization said, questions have been raised on the science and ethics surrounding the vaccines.

“The rapid nature of the COVID-19 vaccine development process and the great anxiety caused by the pandemic worldwide have made the topic of vaccination particularly susceptible to misinformation,” says a blog from the Google News Initiative, according to Aleteia.

“Journalists can play a fundamental role supporting an evidence-based discourse by listening to their audiences’ concerns and providing corrective information about misconceptions that circulate online and offline.”

Vaccines against COVID-19 have been supported by Pope Francis, the Holy See, and bishops’ conferences from around the world.

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