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Facebook Called Out For Vaccine Marketing Alliance

A health alliance formed by Facebook in June of 2021 has been funding research into “how best to use behavioral science, social media and digital platforms to build confidence in and access to vaccines.”

Called the “Alliance for Advancing Health Online (AAHO),” members of the Facebook-led group include the World Health Organization, pharmaceutical giant Merck, and the CDC Foundation—which is the fundraising arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and has corporate partners that include Pfizer and other world giants in vaccine manufacturing.

In an email sent last June to White House staffers announcing the formation of the alliance, Facebook described it as an initiative to “boost vaccination confidence through social media” noting that a “vaccine confidence fund” had been created under the group to finance campaigns to diminish vaccine hesitancy.  

The email described the fund as a $40 million multi-year initiative. Facebook and Merck contributed $20 million each, according to Facebook.

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A health worker prepares a shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a community health center in Brasilia, Brazil, Jan. 16, 2022. (AP/Eraldo Peres)

“This is absolutely appalling,” Pierre Kory, president of the Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, a prominent advocate for alternative COVID-19 treatment, told The Epoch Times.

“This doesn’t have a true, scientifically-supported public health objective for getting people vaccinated, it’s more of a marketing aim with the sole goal of increasing vaccine rates.”

The email shows it was sent to Becca Siegel, senior adviser of the COVID-19 response at The White House; Tericka Lambert, director of digital engagement at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); and HHS staffer Monica Vines, who works in the agency’s ASPA digital division that leads the development of HHS web content, social media, and implements digital information policy.

It was also sent to Georgeta Dragoiu, a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow of the COVID-19 Vaccine Public Education Strategy and Media Campaign. The campaign runs the program “We Can Do This.” A current article on its website has the headline “Addressing Vaccine Misconceptions.”

“It’s difficult for me to understand this as anything other than a government propaganda campaign,” Stanford professor of medicine Dr. Jay Bhattacharya told The Epoch Times.

It is unclear how The White House responded to the email. Multiple calls made by The Epoch Times to Facebook (now Meta) for comment on the alliance were never returned. The White House press office, or individual recipients of the Facebook email, also didn’t respond to inquiries made by The Epoch Times.

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, on Jan. 4, 2022. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Amy Tolchinsky, communication director for the CDC Foundation released a written statement to The Epoch Times in response to inquiries about its involvement in the Facebook-initiated alliance.

“While we are not involved in its operations, received any funding for our involvement, or provided any funding, our association with the Alliance for Advancing Health Online, which was publicly announced in June of 2021, is a way to educate the public about the safety and efficacy of vaccines to a broader audience.”

Tolchinsky also stated that the CDC Foundation has “formalized partnerships with many U.S. and international philanthropies, organizations, corporations, and individuals prior to, and since the beginning of the pandemic.”

In the June 15, 2021, email sent to White House staffers, Facebook’s then Public Policy Manager Nkechi Payton Iheme listed the foundation as one of several organizations that made up the alliance.

In addition to Pfizer, the CDC Foundation’s corporate partner list includes several of the world’s largest vaccine makers including AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Emergent BioSolutions, and Bavarian Nordic.

Iheme, who has since left Facebook, also identified Merck, WHO, the World Bank, and several vaccine advocacy groups as members of the alliance in the email.

By Alice Giordano Read More at The Epoch Times

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