AusSMC to lead global COVID-19 vaccine information hub

10 December 2020 - Immediate release

International journalists and fact checkers will soon have a dedicated support service to help them report on COVID-19 vaccines thanks to a global alliance of Science Media Centres (SMCs) and public health experts supported by the Google News Initiative.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Media Hub will bring together multiple sources of evidence-based information on vaccines with material available in at least seven languages.

Led by the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) and technology not-for-profit Meedan, the alliance will involve collaboration with SMCs and other organisations from Europe, Africa, North America, Latin America and the Asia Pacific region.

“The enormous impact of this pandemic has meant that scientists and pharmaceutical companies have had to go into overdrive to produce vaccines in record time. With so many vaccines in various stages of development, it can be very confusing for journalists and the public and this is where we hope to help,” said Dr Susannah Eliott, CEO of the AusSMC. “It’s now more critical than ever that we all have access to clear information about these vaccines as they are being developed”.

The media hub will include expert commentary and explainers that will help journalists, fact checkers and communicators report on the science behind the COVID-19 vaccines being developed.

"The COVID-19 vaccine development and roll-out are unprecedented. Fighting misinformation about this topic will require both targeting harmful hoaxes directly and supporting the crucial work of science beat reporters and fact-checkers informing the public. It is with this in mind that we're thrilled to support the creation of a COVID-19 vaccine media hub to help journalists access expertise rapidly and reliably," said Alexios Mantzarlis, News and Information Credibility Lead, Google News Lab.

The hub will help answer questions from journalists and fact checkers such as - Will the vaccines being produced prevent infection as well as disease? How long will it take to achieve herd immunity? What is an mRNA vaccine and how is it different to other types of vaccines?

"Recognising the threat of misinformation has become an additional vector for the spread of infectious diseases, as well as a significant barrier to vaccine adherence, we see a networked approach to addressing information equity challenges as a critical public health need. This involves the global science community collaborating, providing fact-checkers and media partners with reliable, and time-sensitive health information needed to effectively report and respond to the vaccine related information needs of their audiences. We are honoured to work with the Science Media Centre of Australia and their partner Science Media Centres on this critical initiative," said Nat Gyenes, Director Meedan Digital Health Lab.

This was echoed by AusSMC chairman, Peter Yates: “We are delighted to be leading this project from our centre in Adelaide in collaboration with international organisations such as Meedan and other science media centres around the world. The ability to form global alliances of this nature is incredibly helpful in the fight against misinformation and we are grateful to Google for funding this initiative and the government of South Australia for its vision in establishing the AusSMC“.

For further information, contact:

Dr Susannah Eliott
Australian Science Media Centre