Coronavirus (909) Definition of infodemic (12)

17 August, 2020

Hi Chris,

You said: "Really? You were referring to the delivery method? Injection rather than ingestion? But that is the least important/damaging part of the suggestion."

Yes, I wrote "President Trump suggested that injection of disinfectant might be a good idea". This is how his remark was widely interpreted and reported.

Chris: "Trump's point is surely that you should try applying disinfectant - which is the misinformation. How you apply it is something else."

President Trump said 'And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning...'. This was the jaw-dropping moment for me: the President of the United States suggesting that *injection* of disinfectant might be a good idea worth testing!

The comment was so ridiculous and potentially politically damaging that the following day President Trump backtracked, claiming that he was being 'sarcastic'. I doubt many people believe him. There is no hint of sarcasm in the way the comment was made in the original press briefing. [https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-52407177]

The important point, for me, is that heads of state can make statements that are clearly dangerous to human health, with impunity. For me, this is the egregious opposite of evidence-informed health policy. During this pandemic, such statements have unfortunately become widespread. What, if anything, can be done to prevent them? What can be done to minimise their impact? How can heads of state and other policymakers be held to account?

Best wishes, Neil

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