Novel coronavirus (130) EPI-WIN (2)

16 March, 2020

Citation and extracts below from The Lancet. Full text here: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30461-X/fulltext

CITATION: World report| volume 395, issue 10225, p676, february 29, 2020

How to fight an infodemic

John Zarocostas

The Lancet

Published: February 29, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30461-X

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WHO's newly launched platform aims to combat misinformation around COVID-19. John Zarocostas reports from Geneva.

WHO is leading the effort to slow the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. But a global epidemic of misinformation — spreading rapidly through social media platforms and other outlets — poses a serious problem for public health. “We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic”, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the Munich Security Conference on Feb 15.

Immediately after COVID-19 was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, WHO's risk communication team launched a new information platform called WHO Information Network for Epidemics (EPI-WIN) [https://www.epi-win.com/], with the aim of using a series of amplifiers to share tailored information with specific target groups.

Sylvie Briand, director of Infectious Hazards Management at WHO's Health Emergencies Programme and architect of WHO's strategy to counter the infodemic risk, told The Lancet, “We know that every outbreak will be accompanied by a kind of tsunami of information, but also within this information you always have misinformation, rumours, etc. We know that even in the Middle Ages there was this phenomenon”.

“But the difference now with social media is that this phenomenon is amplified, it goes faster and further...

Aleksandra Kuzmanovic, social media manager with WHO's department of communications, told The Lancet that “fighting infodemics and misinformation is a joint effort between our technical risk communications [team] and colleagues who are working on the EPI-WIN platform, where they communicate with different…professionals providing them with advice and guidelines and also receiving information”...

“Another thing we are doing with social media platforms, and that is something we are putting our strongest efforts in, is to ensure no matter where people live….when they’re on Facebook, Twitter, or Google, when they search for ‘coronavirus’ or ‘COVID-19’ or [a] related term, they have a box that…directs them to a reliable source: either to [the] WHO website to their ministry of health or public health institute or centre for disease control”, she said...

Carlos Navarro, head of Public Health Emergencies at UNICEF, the children's agency, told The Lancet that while a lot of incorrect information is spreading through social media, a lot is also coming from traditional mass media...

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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. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org