The UK’s top counter-terrorism cop has suggested society stop allowing people to question the wisdom of a rapid Covid-19 vaccine rollout, regarding such skepticism to be life-threatening “misinformation.”
Met Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu has pointedly questioned whether it is “the correct thing for society to allow” the sharing of “misinformation that could cost people’s lives” — demonizing all doubts about quickly developed Covid-19 vaccines whose potential long-term effects are not yet known and tying them to extremist radicalization efforts.
While he didn’t go so far as to call for a law to be passed banning such content, his suggestion of a “national debate” will presumably light a fire under ministers already mulling such legislation.
Basu also expressed worries about a “sharp increase in extremist material online in the last few years” during Wednesday’s press conference, warning of a “new and worrying trend in the UK” of young people being radicalized. Officials told UK media that Islamic extremists and far-right groups were using “false claims about coronavirus” to radicalize their followers.
Social media users already wary of the rush to roll out the vaccine were disturbed by the attendant rush to criminalize criticism of it.