Coronavirus (178) BMC Med: The spread of misinformation

22 March, 2020

The message below is forwarded with thanks to HIFA member Irina Ibraghimova and the LRC Network.

CITATION: Mian A, Khan S. Coronavirus: the spread of misinformation. BMC Med. 2020 03 18

BMC Med. 2020 03 18. 18(1): 89



“There has been a global rise recently in the spread of misinformation that has plagued the scientific community and public. Disconnect between scientific consensus and members of the public on topics such as vaccine safety, the shape of the earth, or climate change has existed for a number of years. However, this has progressively worsened as society has become further divided in the political climate of today. In turn, it has created an optimal environment for antiscience groups to gain footing and propagate their false theories and information. The public health crisis emerging due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) is also now beginning to feel the effects of misinformation.”

“As COVID-19 turns into full-fledged public health crisis, multiple theories regarding the virus’ origin have taken hold on the internet, all with a common theme: the virus was artificially created in a lab by a rogue government with an agenda. This misinformation originated from social media accounts and websites with no credible evidence to support their claims. These posts have amassed over 20 million engagements, rising each day, and the theories continue to gain traction and following on the internet, despite scientists from multiple nations analysing the genome of COVID-19 and coming to the decisive conclusion that the virus originated in nature from an animal source [4, 5]. If powerful and clear statements are not made denouncing and debunking these fabrications, then the impact on the populous has the potential to be devastating.”


Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Information for Citizens, Parents and Children

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: