CIA Op’s fake Osama vaccine still raises doubts about the vaccine

Vaccination against coronavirus price worldwide is low for a variety of reasons — short supply in developing countries, lack of trust in governments implementing vaccinations, and conspiracy theories about what is in vaccines and their effects. its side effects. But experts point to another possible factor that has received less attention: the CIA.

In the quest to find and kill Osama Bin Laden, spies at the CIA used a Hepatitis B vaccination program as a cover in an effort to collect DNA samples that could locate the family of the 9/11 mastermind in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The attempt failed and put a doctor hired by the CIA in a prison in Pakistan. But a decade later, public health experts and researchers say the agency’s vaccine may have helped erode vital confidence in the vaccination efforts now needed to end the pandemic. coronavirus outbreak in Pakistan — and in some cases globally.

Sam Worthington, CEO of InterAction, an international coalition of NGOs, told The Daily Beast: “The CIA’s fake vaccination program crossed the line that they engaged in a complete operation. completely humane and completely related to health and wellness. . “By presenting a degree of distrust regarding vaccination, I think there is harm to vaccination programs in sensitive areas around the world.”

For years after the CIA spoofing campaign, the Taliban worked to attack polio vaccination efforts, citing concerns that the programs could be a front for espionage. The Pakistani The government ordered the Save the Children charity to leave the country after its association with the CIA fake programme. (Save the Children has denied it was involved.)

Since the sham campaign, Pakistanis have stepped back from vaccination — even though the country was on track to eradicate polio at the time, but revive after the CIA campaign was exposed. Vaccination rates fell by two-fifths, according to search recently published in the Journal of the European Economic Association, Oxford University Press. The World Health Organization soon after had to declare a state of polio spreading in several countries, including in Pakistan, a state of emergency.

The authors of the CIA vaccine study, Monica Martinez-Bravo and Andreas Stegmann, told The Daily Beast in a joint statement that “disclosure of vaccine ruse can undermine trust in vaccines.” pleads (and possibly the official health sector) by lending support to rumors and misinformation spread by groups like the Pakistani Taliban. “

That skepticism seems to have stretched into the coronavirus pandemic. It is unclear to what extent the CIA’s covert vaccination effort could complicate Pakistan’s current COVID eradication efforts, but polls show Islamabad is struggling to convince Pakistanis to get vaccinated. pls fight coronavirus. According to polls, nearly half of Pakistanis expressed unwillingness to accept a COVID-19 shot if offered. made by Gallup.

Worthington told The Daily Beast: “Vaccines are ultimately based on people’s ability to accept them, and when people’s trust is broken, it’s going to be difficult for medical or humanitarian actors to do the work they do. than.

The CIA itself recognized that running a fake vaccine operation was a mistake and unwarranted damage to public health and vaccine efforts in 2013. The spy agency banned its use. vaccination programs for subsequent espionage, according to a letter Lisa Monaco, the president’s homeland security adviser at the time, wrote to the principals of public health schools expressing concern about the program.

When reached for comment, a CIA spokesman indicated that vaccines were indeed distributed during the operation.

“The 2011 vaccinations in Pakistan were real, and many children were vaccinated through that program,” the spokesperson said. “In response to concerns raised by the public health community, in 2013 the then Director of CIA directed vaccine programs that would not be used in future operations.”

However, the spokesperson suggested that the CIA does not believe that its use of a vaccine campaign to carry out espionage has led to worldwide suspicion or concern about vaccines.

“There are many theories and misinformation that cause vaccine hesitancy, but we do not see significant global concerns today stemming from underreporting of the vaccine program,” said a spokesperson. vaccine was used in Pakistan more than 10 years ago”.

But the damage was done, and to this day underground flow belong to distrust Worthington says that the CIA program has prompted public health workers to try to vaccinate not only in Pakistan but around the world.

Worthington told The Daily Beast: “The problem is that once trust is broken, it is very difficult to rebuild. “And the UN or other NGOs or governments have a responsibility to rebuild that trust in areas where it might be broken and focus on the benefits of vaccines — why is this? do not harm people. It just makes everyone’s job a little harder.”

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who served as a senior adviser on South Asia and the Middle East to four presidents, said the disinformation that plagued the program and its failure was long-standing.

“The CIA program, which has been used by anti-American groups in Pakistan to smear America, has become a weapon,” Riedel told The Daily Beast. “Actually, it was a very small part of the bin Laden program, but, politically, it has become much larger. It has acquired a history that will not be lost. ” CIA Op’s fake Osama vaccine still raises doubts about the vaccine

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