Debunk EU: Baltics and Ukraine targeted for refusing Sputnik V, with social media amplifying false messages

As global COVID-19 vaccination programmes get into the full swing, information regarding any shortcomings is used to push false and misleading narratives.

As seen in Debunk EU’s analysis, in February 2021, major news groups included reports on the suspected drawbacks of Western vaccines and Lithuania refusing to purchase Sputnik V, as well as referring to it as a ‘hybrid weapon.’ Similarly, in January, Ukraine was again in focus for refusing the Sputnik V, whereas the claims on orchestrated information attacks against Russian fight with the pandemic were this time announced by the country’s President Vladimir Putin.


Here are some key highlights of Debunk EU’s analysis:

  • The share of disinformation within the false and misleading content on COVID-19 in February 2021 stood at 6%. The share was almost all encompassing, at 98.1%.
  • There is a trend of targeting COVID-19 policies through directly attacking government officials.
  • There were several cases when false stories were picked up by users and groups on Facebook to amplify misleading messages even further.
  • False measures to fight COVID-19 was the top narrative within the false and misleading coverage on COVID-19 throughout the monitored period.
  • Measured by mentions, most of the articles with false and misleading content were published in Lithuanian (34.1%), followed by Polish (28.2%) and Russian (26.0%). Measured by DebunkReach®, it was the Russian language that reached out to the largest number of potential contacts (77.8%).

You can read the analysis here.