Combatting COVID-19 Misinformation

September 25, 2020

Almost as fast as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spread around the world, so has misinformation about the infectious disease. MJH Life Sciences™ will host a free webinar to get the facts from the experts.

Misinformation is not uncommon during public health crises—it happened during the recent Ebola outbreak and during the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2002-2003. Again, it is occurring with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, according to research published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

On Tuesday, September 29, at 6 pm ET, MJH Life Sciences™, the parent company of The American Journal of Managed Care®, will host a free webinar to address the infodemic that has accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic.

An infodemic is “an overabundance of information—some accurate and some not—that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it,” and during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there have been reports of rumors and conspiracy theories, sometimes with adverse impacts on individuals.

“Public health emergencies are stressful times for people and communities,” the authors of the study wrote. “Managing rumors, dispelling misinformation and conspiracy theories, and mitigating fear and stigma directed toward persons and places affected are essential to pandemic preparedness and control.”

They found 2311 reports of rumors, stigma, and conspiracy theories in 25 languages in 87 countries. Most commonly, the claims were related to illness, transmission, and mortality (24%), followed by claims of control measures (21%), treatment and cure (19%), cause of COVID-19’s origins (15%), and violence (1%). There were text ratings for 2276 of the reports; 82% of these claims were false, 9% were correct, 8% were misleading, and 1% were not proven. India, the United States, China, Spain, Indonesia, and Brazil were the countries where most of the rumors, stigma, and conspiracy theories were identified.

The global misinformation that “consumption of highly concentrated alcohol could disinfect the body and kill the virus” caused 800 people to die, 5876 to be hospitalized, and 60 to go completely blind after drinking methanol.

Join the MJH Life Sciences™ webinar, “Fact or Fiction? COVID-19 Myths and Controversies” to get the facts directly from the experts:

  • Moderator Saskia v. Popescu, PhD, MPH, MA, CIC, term assistant professor, George Mason University, and adjunct professor, University of Arizona College of Public Health
  • Angela Rasmussen, PhD, associate research scientist, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
  • Emily Ricotta, PhD, MS, research fellow, Epidemiology Unit, Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

The webinar is part of the MJH Life Sciences™ COVID-19 Coalition, which was formed to keep health care professionals up-to-date and informed on the science and latest learnings on COVID-19. The COVID-19 Coalition hosts biweekly webinars with discussion, viewpoints, and audience Q&A.

Learn more about the panelists and register for the webinar.

Reference

Islam MS, Sarkar T, Khan SH, et al. COVID-19–related infodemic and its impact on public health: a global social media analysis. Am J Trop Med Hyg. Published August 10, 2020. doi:10.4269/ajtmh.20-0812