Coronavirus misinformation and disinformation rife among Americans

Coronavirus misinformation and disinformation rife among Americans

Recovered South Korean COVID-19 patients test positive again It is worth noting that some scientists debate the 'wet market' origin. An article in The Lancet reveals that the first patient in whom COVID-19 was confirmed, as well as another one-third of the first 40 cases, did not have any history of contact with the wet market. Despite this, most experts today do not commit themselves to the theory of laboratory origin of the coronavirus. Fighting misinformation It is notable that in an age of scientific advancement, conspiracy theories and superstitious fear of modern gadgets are taking over the minds of more and more people. An 'infodemic', as the World Health Organization (WHO) terms this flood of false news, is taking the world by storm. Apart from the "virus-created-in-Chinese-lab" hypothesis, more and more people now believe that the 5G networks cause the virus to spread in some mysterious way. Some 5G cellular towers have even been destroyed as a result, which only harms the economy further, besides hampering communication between health workers and the community, as well as between isolated people and their families or caregivers. To counter this, social media like Twitter and Whatsapp are tightening their control of what content goes online. Whatsapp, the social media giant, owned by Facebook, has put a ceiling on how many times a message can be forwarded to a user. If the same user is part of multiple groups, this will prevent the message from reaching a large number of groups simultaneously. Over and above this, buffer messages are shown above search pages warning of misinformation being spread by some users of social media. Will these measures keep the infodemic at bay? It seems unlikely, given the modern tendency to distrust anything that runs counter to one's own thinking, no matter how reliable the source. Unless people learn to think, observe, and assimilate information, all the social messaging and education in the world will have little effect on public health or the pandemic. What is the cost of misinformation? When people believe the coronavirus doesn't exist, but the illness is because of 5G radiation, they won't take precautions against it. This will result in a second and third wave of infections racking already suffering countries, possibly wrecking the economy irreparably. Such conspiracy theories and misinformation only distract people and make them stop paying attention to social distancing and personal hygienic practices. The flood of false theories about the origin of the virus takes up precious administrative time and effort to counter them. They also create fear, as well as anti-racial and nationalistic jingoism that hinders scientific collaboration at a time when it couldn't be more critical. Their promoters are responsible for the high toll they will eventually exact in terms of human suffering by promoting the spread of the virus. Sources: Schaeffer , K. Nearly (April 8, 2020) three-in-ten Americans believe COVID-19 was made in a lab , https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/04/08/nearly-three-in-ten-americans-believe-covid-19-was-made-in-a-lab Mitchell, A, Baxter Oilphant, J, (2020) Americans Immersed in COVID-19 News; Most Think Media Are Doing Fairly Well Covering It - https://www.journalism.org/2020/03/18/americans-immersed-in-covid-19-news-most-think-media-are-doing-fairly-well-covering-it/#knowledge-misperceptions-and-made-up-news Sandler, R. (2020). Nearly 30% Of Americans Believe The Coronavirus Came From A Lab, Despite Complete Lack Of Evidence. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelsandler/2020/04/13/nearly-30-of-americans-believe-the-coronavirus-came-from-a-lab-despite-complete-lack-of-evidence/#2231d97c5774 Scottie, A. (2020). Nearly 30% in the US believe a coronavirus theory that's almost certainly not true. Noor, P. (2020). A third of Americans believe Covid-19 laboratory conspiracy theory – study. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/13/coronavirus-conspiracy-theory-laboratory-report Thomas, L,(2020) Eight strains of coronavirus afflicting the world - https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200331/Eight-strains-of-coronavirus-afflicting-the-world.aspx Mandal, A, (2020) - Origins of SARS-CoV-2 – natural or man-made? - https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200330/Origins-of-SARS-CoV-2-natural-or-man-made.aspx Betsaida B. Laguipo, A, (2020) Scientists reveal clinical features of Wuhan coronavirus patients - https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200130/Scientists-reveal-clinical-features-of-Wuhan-coronavirus-patients.aspx Journal references: Zhou, P., Yang, X., Wang, X. et al. A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin. Nature 579, 270–273 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2012-7 Andersen, K.G., Rambaut, A., Lipkin, W.I. et al. The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2. Nat Med 26, 450–452 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-0820-9 Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China Huang, Chaolin et al. The Lancet, Volume 395, Issue 10223, 497 - 506, https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30183-5/fulltext



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