Cyber units in Russia—supposedly responsible for Brexit and Donald Trump's election—are now looking to overthrow Western civilization by placing bad news about the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) and flu vaccines on social media sites, says the Daily Mirror.
The Mirror reports that "Russian cyber units are spreading false information about flu and measles jabs, experts claim."
It states that "health chiefs have had emergency meetings over the spread of 'fake news' over vaccination campaigns", but unfortunately not a single expert the newspaper interviewed could back up the extraordinary claim with any evidence, and a closer read reveals nobody except the reporter actually made the claim in the first place.
It isn't entirely clear why the Russian hackers would seek to raise doubts about the safety and effectiveness of vaccinations, but the timing of the story could have something to do with a sudden outbreak of measles in several of the UK's northern cities.
The outbreaks happened just months after a major health agency had applauded the UK for having 'eliminated' measles. Last September, The European Regional Verification Commission announced that not a single case of measles had been reported in the UK for 36 months, an official measure of whether a contagious disease has been eradicated.
Taking the plaudits, the UK's head of immunisation, Dr Mary Ramsay, said at the time: "National vaccine coverage of the first MMR dose in five-year-olds has hit the World Health Organization (WHO) 95 per cent target". This is the magic number for achieving herd immunity.
The new cases have happened among children and adults who haven't been vaccinated, say health officials, and in areas that have a 94 per cent take-up of the MMR vaccine. This small short-fall is down to parents being scared off from having their children vaccinated after reading "false information on the internet", says the newspaper.