Press Release: August 13, 2020
Fake news and general disinformation on Social Media surrounding Covid-19 contributed to 5,800 people being hospitalised and at least 800 unnecessary deaths around the world according to researchers in a study published by the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Many of the victims had followed advice resembling credible medical information - such as eating large amounts of garlic or ingesting large quantities of vitamins - as a way of preventing infection, the study's authors say.
Others drank substances such as cow urine. Many died from drinking methanol or alcohol-based cleaning products that they believed to be a cure for the virus, not helped by incumbent US President Donald Trump expounding the use of injecting bleach. He said at an official press briefing at the White House that "I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute," Mr Trump said. "And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?" prompting bleach manufacturers to issue global warnings against any ingestion of any bleach products.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously said that the "infodemic" surrounding Covid-19 spread just as quickly as the virus itself, with conspiracy theories, rumours and cultural stigma all contributing to deaths and injuries.
Online posts led to mob attacks in India and mass poisonings in Iran. Telecommunications engineers were threatened and in some cases attacked and phone masts have been set alight in the UK and other countries because of conspiracy theories that have been incubated and amplified online.
The paper concludes that it is the responsibility of international agencies, governments and social media platforms to fight back against this "infodemic", but this will again fall on deaf ears as far as the leading operators including Facebook and Twitter who pay little more than lip service but lets not forget False information costs lives
About the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Established in 1921,the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is published monthly by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. It is among the top-ranked tropical medicine journals in the world publishing original scientific articles and the latest science covering new research with an emphasis on population, clinical and laboratory science and the application of technology in the fields of tropical medicine, parasitology, immunology, infectious diseases, epidemiology, basic and molecular biology, virology and international medicine.
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