What you need to know
- Google is modifying its search engine to offer more accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines.
- A new knowledge panel will show locally relevant information about approved vaccine candidates and more.
- The panel will first launch in the U.K., followed by other countries as they also begin approving different vaccines.
As COVID-19 vaccines take center stage in the popular discourse, it's more important than ever to combat misinformation campaigns about the potentially life-saving cures, especially as apprehension over possible side effects raises concerns. To that end, Google has promised to use its search engine to provide a source of authoritative, up-to-date, and locally relevant information about potential COVID-19 vaccines.
The feature will first launch in the U.K., with Google's blog post describing it as follows:
Beginning in the United Kingdom, we're launching a new feature on Search so when people look up information for COVID-19 vaccines, we will surface a list of authorized vaccines in their location, as well as information panels on each individual vaccine.
Google says its various COVID-19 panels on YouTube, which show up on the homepage and when viewing videos related to the pandemic, have been viewed more than 400 billion times, making them an effective means of communicating information about both the pandemic and potential vaccines.
In addition to this, Google's also putting its money where its mouth is by donating $15 million in Ad Grants — that is, free ads on its platform — to the WHO, while the Google News Initiative plans to set aside $1.5 million in funding for the creation of a COVID-19 Vaccine Media Hub.
As other countries start authorizing vaccines, Google says it'll expand the information panels to search results in those locations as well. The changes are the latest in a series of moves by both Google and other tech companies aimed at curbing COIVD-19 misinformation.