In addition to fighting the health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health experts are also fighting the effects of what they refer to as an infodemic. Defined as an outbreak of misinformation, doctors across the country are saying that this infodemic is making it harder to treat patients.
Moreover, this misinformation can lead to a breakdown in the doctor-patient relationship, increase risk of infection or serious illness, or worsen the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When Information Becomes Misinformation
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors were fighting misinformation about health conditions, vaccines and treatments. However, pre-COVID-19, doctors say that these infodemics were targeted and more niche. Since the COVID-19 pandemic reared its head in the United States, doctors say that an infodemic focused solely on COVID-19 quickly began and spread. The misinformation being shared is widespread and includes at-home treatments for the coronavirus, claims over how the coronavirus is spread, and how to stay safe in public. .
How to Stay Safe and Sort Fact From Fiction
The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving, which leads to changing guidance and advice for staying safe. Despite this, it’s always best to weather the storm and follow guidance from the CDC and your local public health officials.
In addition, the following tips will help you sort out fact from fiction:
• Research the source - It’s unfortunate, but true - some companies are trying to profit from fear and uncertainty during the pandemic, and some are spreading false information about the coronavirus in order to promote their product or service. Be sure to research the claims, studies and data brands are sharing to validate the information.
• Review multiple sources - If information being shared is true, there will be a host of other sources sharing the same information. If a piece of information is an extreme outlier, and other sources are not saying the same things, it’s probably not accurate.
• Trust your gut - If something seems or sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
• Check reliable resources - The CDC, local public health officials and your doctor are the most reliable sources to get your coronavirus-related questions answered. If you have personal questions about the coronavirus and your personal health, be sure to contact your doctor.