Novel coronavirus (19) "False rumours on coronavirus could cost lives, say researchers"

14 February, 2020

Hi Neil & Colleagues,

Another article that may interest colleagues.

False rumours on coronavirus could cost lives, say researchers

Some quotes from the Guardian article:

"Study finds people who believe online scare stories are more likely to ignore health advice"

"Misinformation and fake news on social media during infectious disease outbreaks, including the current novel coronavirus epidemic, can cost lives, according to researchers."

"It [their study] found that people who believed them [scare stories etc] were less likely to behave in a way that would protect themselves and others, such as washing their hands frequently and keeping away from other people if they have any symptoms."

“Misinformation means that bad advice can circulate very quickly – and it can change human behaviour to take greater risks."

"The researchers looked at the effect of two strategies for combating the fake news. One was to reduce the amount of misinformation on social media. The other was to educate people to recognise false information when they saw it – something they call “immunising” people against it."

This might be the study referred to in the article, or another study by the same authors:

Best wishes


HIFA Profile: Julie N Reza is a UK-based specialist in communications for biosciences, global health & international development ( She predominantly works with NGOs and not-for-profit organisations. Previously she was the senior science editor at TDR, based at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva; prior to this she worked at the Wellcome Trust, UK, leading educational projects on international health topics including trypanosomiasis and trachoma. She has a PhD in immunology and a specialist degree in science communication. She also has several years research and postgraduate teaching experience. She is a member of the HIFA Steering Group and HIFA Social Media Working Group.

Email: naimareza AT