Vaccine Misinformation Highlights the Limits of FDA’s Powers
(Thursday, August 12, 2021)
Despite more than half of the population fully vaccinated in the US, it is ironic that the vaccine misinformation has barely waned. A wide swath of population still believes scientifically implausible myths about the vaccines. It may seem disturbing that a large section of the population believes that Covid vaccines can cause infertility, or that these vaccines are unsafe, or that they can lead to mutations. It is technically not FDA’s job to educate the entire population about the basic scientific principles around health products, but it is widely believed that FDA’s full approval will comfort some vaccine dissidents. Misinformation is not limited to Covid vaccines; rather it is very common for all kinds of products regulated by the FDA. In terms of volume of information, the amount of misinformation available to an average consumer is almost the same as the factual information. And FDA and other regulators are helpless. The only parties FDA can regulate and penalize for false information is the manufacturers of products. It cannot ask website to delete false information, and it cannot punish the “pretend experts” who create and propagate misinformation. It is left to the consumers to make a judgement call as to which source of information they trust. It is not an easy problem to solve. So, calls on FDA to regulate misinformation are misplaced. Wider publicity campaigns by FDA and health agencies could help a bit but the internet is too big for any one party to fill it with corrections. People who do not verify the credibility of the information they consume or listen to biased influencers have themselves to blame for the harm they suffer from the misinformation. The health misinformation is the health crisis of the information age. And there are no easy solutions.
Dr. Mukesh Kumar
Founder & CEO, FDAMap
Linkedin: Mukesh Kumar, PhD, RAC