The anti-vaccination campaign started while the pandemic is in full swing. Lay people in medicine share unverified information, videos and out-of-context documents trying to sabotage the COVID-19 vaccine, which is one of the pandemic measures. Unfortunately, the disinformation campaign that took place not only had an impact on the country but was also organized and shared in the region.
Former MIA correspondent living in Brussels, Boban Nonkovic, also took part in the campaign, posting a video on his Facebook profile on December 8th
, presenting disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine to the public. The video, which went viral in a short time, was rated as inaccurate by the fact-finding service Vistinomer
because it is not fact-based. However, what the Facebook audience could hear, given the large number of interactions, is of great detriment to the vaccination process to follow. Nonkovic's video by Dr. Danailovski was described
as an attempt to sabotage the vaccine: "In a situation where there is a cataclysm on a planetary level, in a time of 'war', in a time of dying, hunters dare to sabotage in the dark the only measure that can bring about a solution to the pandemic - vaccination!"
Nonkovic abuses the transparency of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Biological Assessment and Research
, which, following all protocols, has released a Plan to Monitor the Safety and Effectiveness of the COVID-19 Vaccine for Vaccine Manufacturers
. The Center is the body responsible for regulating biological products, including vaccines in the United States. The second document that Nonkovic explains is a briefing document
outlining the initial results of monitoring the effects of the vaccine on about 38,000 participants over the age of 16, and the ratio between the vaccine group and the placebo group is 1: 1. It is worth noting that the briefing document presents the results of the 3rd phase.Developing a new vaccine goes through
New vaccine research application.
Clinical trials of the vaccine (phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3) of tens of thousands of volunteers.
Vaccine approval application.
Inspection of production facilities where the vaccine is produced.
Present findings to the FDA Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biological Products, which reviews and evaluates data on safety, efficacy and appropriate use.
Once the vaccine is approved, the FDA continues to control its production to ensure the required level of safety. Vaccine monitoring and production activities, including periodic site inspections, are carried out as long as the manufacturer has a license for the vaccine.The plan contains a list of potential adverse events that will be followed in the process of monitoring and evaluation of vaccines during their use, which is a normal prescribed practice not only for vaccines but also for the most common drugs. For example, possible side effects of daleron
, a remedy for fever, are: nausea, allergic reaction - most often skin redness, itching, rash, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and increased liver enzymes. Nonkovic distorts the truth by presenting the possible side effects of the vaccine as already "confirmed side effects" that would surely occur after receiving the vaccine. Additionally, he mentions "health COVID-19 card" and others. What is true is that the vaccine will not be mandatory, as announced by the Minister of Health Venko Filipce, while the WHO does not recommend passports for immunity or testing for travel. As far as vaccines are concerned, the transparency of the process of their evaluation by the companies that develop them is important, in order to raise public awareness and gain trust in them. Both Astra Zeneka
and Oxford University
, as well as Pfizer
in collaboration with Biotech, regularly report on the latest research and analysis in the vaccine development process. Therefore, the public should be informed from credible sources and not succumb to manipulations of any kind. On September 8th
, 2020, nine CEOs of the pharmaceutical companies Astra Zeneca, Biotech, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer and Sons pledged
that the safety and well-being of vaccinated persons would continue to be the prime priority for the first COVID-19 vaccines. The purpose of this commitment is to contribute to the public confidence in the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which vaccines against COVID-19 are evaluated and approved.Techniques through which the disinformation campaign was conducted
The main goal of this disinformation campaign is to cause distrust among the citizens in the system and the process of protection and immunization of the population.The number of views (274 thousand) and shares (more than 5 thousand) of the video is another proof that the topics related to health or conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 cause emotional reactions in people, and also this range indicates its organized sharing in a short period of time.The video was shared on the following groups and profiles:
The next day after the video was deemed inaccurate, Boban Nonkovic shared another post
on his Facebook profile in which he boasted of the huge number of views of the video, which for him was proof that he allegedly hit them in the core, as he called them, "Goebbels fact- checkers of the NGO Metamorphosis ".As mentioned above, individuals and Facebook groups made a "huge contribution" to the viewing of the video, which continued to share the video despite being assessed as inaccurate, i.e., not based on facts.The profile named Ljubica Stojkovska
was one of the ones who most actively shared the video. The public data of this Facebook user only shows that he is from Kicevo, without a photo on her profile so that the person behind it cannot be identified, but photos and posts with Macedonian nationalist symbols are visible, as well as the flag from Vergina. This, according to F2N2, is an anonymous Facebook user who regularly shares pro-Russian content.
This user manages to share the video more than 10 times in several different groups in one minute. Only as an example we will mention the posts in the BORN IN THE USSR (СОЮЗ РОЖДЁННЫХ В СССР
), Macedonian National Interests (Makedonski Nacionalni Interesi
), Evmro (еВМРО
), World Macedonian Congress
, Initiative to exclude the reformers from VMRO-DPMNE(Иницијатива да се исклучат реформаторите од ВМРО-ДПМНЕ
), Wall of Health Shame (Ѕид на здравствениот срам????
), MACEDONIA from the people for the people! ( MAKEDONIJA od narodot i za Narodot!
), Let's love Macedonia together !( Заедно да ја сакаме Македонија !
), MACEDONIAN DIASPORA (MAKEDONSKA DIJASPORA
). At the same minute, the video was once again shared in the same groups, except for one (probably missed by mistake), while in the Russian group BORN IN THE USSR (СОЮЗ РОЖДЁННЫХ В СССР
), the video was shared several times during the day.
In the sharing participated not only profiles from North Macedonia, but also from the region, such as Bulgaria, Croatia, and Serbia. Unfortunately, this is not the first time individuals from North Macedonia have been "exporters" of disinformation to other countries.This is an example of a disinformation campaign conducted by domestic and foreign actors.In addition, according to public reactions, the video was shared in inbox - a technique that is not used for the first time but has been used to conduct disinformation campaigns since the beginning of the pandemic.Nonkovic's narrative is that the US Food and Drug Administration is a "Deep State" tool, and that someone not only robotized humanity a long time ago but depopulated it and put it in shackles to reach that golden billion population that is the maximum what should the world have, which the sponsors of these vaccines, led by Bill Gates, announced.
It is obvious that the end of the video is trying to show the "big picture", that is, it contains anti-Western sentiment, and to promote the conspiracy theory that “the world is ruled by a world elite, embodied by Bill Gates and in this case the US Agency for food, which aims to robotize and thus depopulate the world population
”. However, it is unclear what the connection between "robotization" and "depopulation" is.The video uses several disinformation techniques that have already been identified in the study of this phenomenon.The first feature is the distortion of the facts, so that the potential negative effects of the vaccine are presented as already confirmed effects that will certainly occur. It is a half-truth, one of the most dangerous tools of disinformation, which is often much more dangerous than a pure lie.Disinformation is also used to distract the public from another important event. The same day the video was released, the media
reported that vaccination had begun in the UK, and the video placed a counter-narrative that the vaccines were harmful.Furthermore, there is a discredit (Dismiss) of the pharmaceutical companies that produce the vaccines - Pfizer and Biotech and Astra Zeneka.On the other hand, despite the discredit, a document / source from Western democracies is misused. The transparency of the institutions of Western democracies is often misused in disinformation campaigns, which distort reality and facts, and are used to portray the West in a negative light.Additionally, he is building his authority on the basis of the European Parliament and Croatian MP Kolakusic, who on October 30th
, 2020, asked Parliament not to shut down because the coronavirus was "a common cold, and does not know anyone who has contracted it."Who is Boban Nonkovic?
Boban Nonkovic is a journalist, former MIA correspondent from Brussels. It is known about his political background that he was against the name change, i.e. he agitated for the boycott
of the referendum in 2018.He lives in Brussels and often defends Russia, which can be seen from just one interview
on his friend Milenko Nedelkovski's 2018 show, where he states that the Skripal poisoning case was used as a political tool of the Western world against Russia. His contents, videos, Facebook posts against the Euro-Atlantic integration of N. Macedonia, as well as narratives for the federalization of N. Macedonia, for the implementation of the "Tirana Platform" are published
by the portal Mina Report
in 2019 reveals that Mina Report publishes pro-Russian propaganda content by Russian authors in English. It is unclear who is behind this website, because it does not provide any information about the editorial office, except that the contact section lists the city of Skopje and an e-mail address. According to the research of Civil Media, it is symptomatic for this website that it was registered only one week before the forcible entry into the Parliament on April 27th