In order to help to clarify fake news and misleading information about vaccines against COVID-19, an international consortium of Catholic media, news agencies and world-renowned scientists is being founded.
Pope Francis, the Holy See and bishops’ conferences from around the world have spoken out about the importance to get vaccinated to respect not only one’s own life, but also that of others.
In the worldwide Catholic community, especially on social networks, many scientific and ethical questions are being raised regarding the ethical character of the process of producing the vaccines. These issues need to be clarified or explained by scientists, bioethicists, and theologians.
Whereas posing ethical questions on the use of vaccines is surely legitimate (as, for instance, seen in different statements released by the USCCB), they must be addressed clearly, without adding further misinformation.
The consortium is headed up by Aleteia, a worldwide Catholic information network in seven languages, in collaboration with Verificat, a fact-checking agency, and I. Media, a news agency that specializes in information from the Vatican.
The founding media organizations of this consortium are Our Sunday Visitor, Družina, SanFrancesco.org, Religión Digital, Catalunya Religió, El Observador de la Actualidad and La Voz de Córdoba.
The Scientific Committee, which will offer scientific consulting, includes the Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a center of excellence in research,as well as experts in epidemiology, doctors, scientists, theologians and bioethicists.
The consortium will publish an internet audience study (web listening) focused on the way in which media around the world are reporting on the process of immunization, carried out by the Blanquerna Observatory of Communication, Religion and Culture of Ramon Llull University of Barcelona. This institute will also perform a study of the impact that the informative efforts of the Consortium will have on the Catholic community worldwide.
The project of the Consortium is one of 11 chosen from among 309 proposals originating from 74 countries, by the impartial jury of the COVID-19 Vaccine Counter-Misinformation Open Fund, granted by Google News Initiative.