Swiss Policy Research

Swiss Policy Research (SPR; before mid-May 2020, Swiss Propaganda Research)[1][2] is a website launched in 2016, which describes itself as "an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit research group[...]". While the editors of the site are unknown, the website claims that "SPR is composed of independent academics and receives no external funding".[3]

Swiss Policy Research
Swiss policy research logo.png
Type of site
Propaganda, conspiracy theories, pseudoscience
Available inGerman, English
Country of originUnknown
OwnerUnknown
Founder(s)Unknown
EditorUnknown
Managing directorUnknown
RevenueUnknown
Operating incomeUnknown
URLswprs.org
Launched2016
Current statusActive

The Swiss Policy Research site has been criticized for spreading conspiracy theories including claims that QAnon was a psyop of the FBI.[4] and theories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.[2][5] German public broadcasterTagesschau calls SPR a propaganda tool.[6]

Due to the persistent use of the German letter ß, which is not commonly used in Switzerland, it has been suspected that the creator is not from Switzerland, contrary to what the website title suggests.[7]

CriticismEdit

Authority based criticismEdit

In 2017 a University of Zurich report on media in Switzerland analyzed "six of the most-discussed 'alternative media'", including SPR, that "resort to conspiracy theories." Daniel Vogler concluded that SPR appears to be a "a pseudoscientific media research project."[8]

Andrea Haefely wrote a critique of the website in the magazine Beobachter in May 2020, noting: "The website Swiss Propaganda Research assumes that the Swiss media does what SPR itself does: feed the readers with questionable information." She also suggested that the persistent use of the letter ß on the site suggests that the content creator is likely to be from outside Switzerland, as this particular letter form is not in common use within Switzerland.[7]

Christoph Neuberger, a professor at the Free University of Berlin, stated that while the SPR website attempts to present its message as objective and neutral, it is clearly political, and its content is pseudoscientific ("pseudowissenschaftlich").[2]

Stephan Russ-Mohl, professor of journalism and media management at the Università della Svizzera italiana, considers the articles on the SPRS to themselves serve as propaganda, rather than being serious research on the subject. He has noted that the anonymity of the website creates doubts over the reliability and authenticity of its research, particularly in a country such as Switzerland, which has full freedom of its press.[6]

Substantive Allegations related to COVID-19Edit

Hydroxychloroquine and ivermectinEdit

As recently as April 2021, Swiss Policy Research recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine, and ivermectin for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19[9] despite neither ivermectin[10][11] or hydroxychloroquine[12][13] showing clear evidence of efficacy in the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.

Mask mandatesEdit

A graph produced by Swiss Policy Research plotting daily new COVID-19 cases was circulated widely with the claim that "mask mandates may have actually spread COVID-19." When reached by Reuters for comment, SPR said that the social media posts misrepresented their analysis and that they "do not claim or suggest that masks increase cases, nor do we suggest people shouldn't wear masks."[14] However, the SPR webpage with the graphic says, "In many states, coronavirus infections strongly increased after mask mandates had been introduced. The following charts show the typical examples of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, the UK, California and Hawaii." The same webpage concluded that "If the coronavirus is indeed transmitted via indoor aerosols, face masks are unlikely to be protective. Health authorities should therefore not assume or suggest that face masks will reduce the rate or risk of infection."[15]

Other pages on the SPR site have previously claimed that, "There is still little to no scientific evidence for the effectiveness of cloth face masks in healthy and asymptomatic individuals. Experts warn that such masks may interfere with normal breathing and may become 'germ carriers' if used repeatedly."[16] this claim appears to have been removed after it was debunked by Health Feedback.[5]

Lethality of COVID-19Edit

An article on the Swiss Policy Research site claims "The overall lethality of COVID-19 (IFR) is about 0.1% to 0.3% and thus in the range of a severe influenza";[16] this claim is not accurate[5] but has been cited by people like Jim Corr to support that Covid-19 is just like the seasonal flu.[17] Covid-19 is much worse than the seasonal flu, not only is Covid-19 more contagious the IFR is much higher.[18] A meta-analysis of 24 scientific studies published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases indicate that the overall IFR of the disease across populations is 0.68% (0.53–0.82%).[19] In another study the CDC estimated the crude infection fatality rate (IFR) for the U.S. as 0.7%, and noted that the U.S. experienced 2,801,439 deaths, 22.9% more than expected (522,368 excess deaths) in 2020 with Covid-19 accounting for at least 72.4% (378,194) of those excess deaths.[20]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "About Us / Contact – Swiss Propaganda Research". 13 May 2020. Archived from the original on 13 May 2020. Retrieved 27 October 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "#Faktenfuchs: Wie glaubwürdig ist "Swiss Policy Research"?" (in German). Bayerischer Rundfunk. 5 June 2020. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  3. ^ "SWPRS – About Us / Contact". Swiss Policy Research.
  4. ^ Bandarage, Asoka (19 January 2021). "Capitol Hill 'Insurrection'". Inter Press Service.
  5. ^ a b c "Listicle of "facts" about COVID-19 contains numerous inaccurate and misleading claims". Health Feedback. 26 August 2020.
  6. ^ a b Stöber, Silvia (1 November 2017). "Desinformation in der Schweiz: Propaganda statt seriöser Forschung". Tagesschau (in German). Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  7. ^ a b Haefely, Andrea. "Swiss Propaganda Research: Anonyme Warner mit scharfem S". Beobachter (in German). Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  8. ^ Vogler, Daniel (2017). Medienstrukturen (PDF) (in German). Zurich Open Repository and Archive. pp. 30–31.
  9. ^ "On the Treatment of Covid-19". Swiss Policy Research. 2 July 2020. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  10. ^ "What's Behind the Ivermectin-for-COVID Buzz?". www.medpagetoday.com. 6 January 2021. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  11. ^ "Ivermectin Disappoints in Mild COVID-19". www.medpagetoday.com. 4 March 2021. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  12. ^ "Is chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine useful in treating people with COVID-19, or in preventing infection in people who have been exposed to the virus?". www.cochrane.org. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  13. ^ Saag, Michael S. (1 December 2020). "Misguided Use of Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19". JAMA. 324 (21): 2161–2162. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.22389. ISSN 0098-7484. PMID 33165507.
  14. ^ "Fact check: Mask mandates are not causing a spike in COVID-19 infections". Reuters. 20 November 2020. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  15. ^ "Are Face Masks Effective? The Evidence. – Swiss Policy Research". 6 May 2021. Archived from the original on 6 May 2021. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  16. ^ a b "Facts about Covid-19 – Swiss Policy Research". archive.fo. 21 August 2020. Archived from the original on 21 August 2020. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  17. ^ Beresford, Jack. "Anti-mask protestor Jim Corr vows to continue fighting 'all forms of tyranny' following Jedward spat". The Irish Post. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  18. ^ "Here's Why COVID-19 Is Much Worse Than the Flu". Healthline. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  19. ^ Meyerowitz-Katz, Gideon; Merone, Lea (1 December 2020). "A systematic review and meta-analysis of published research data on COVID-19 infection fatality rates". International Journal of Infectious Diseases. 101: 138–148. doi:10.1016/j.ijid.2020.09.1464. ISSN 1201-9712. PMC 7524446. PMID 33007452.
  20. ^ "CDC Library: COVID-19 Science Update: 04/09/2021". www.cdc.gov. 9 April 2021. Retrieved 8 May 2021.

External linksEdit