In simple terms, an infodemic arises when excessive amount of information makes the problem harder and difficult to find a solution. In a COVID 19 world, this has become a reality, the sources of information have expanded beyond traditional methods of newspaper, tv news to Twitter, WhatsApp. The amount of information circulated through these sources has increased and so has the reachability of information. This has created a surplus of information for COVID 19 and made it difficult to understand what’s right or wrong.
Myths are one piece of information which have added to uncertainty in this infodemic. For example, there are currently drugs licensed for the treatment of COVID 19 is a myth. According to WHO, drugs like hydroxychloroquine have not yet proved that COVID 19 can be cured or prevented. Additionally, misuse of hcqs can lead to serious side effects and illness (Lancet’s study has pointed out great safety concerns with hcqs). This is not it, some myths are greatly unreasonable and quite ridiculous. This is true for the myth that spraying and introducing bleach into your body will protect you from COVID19. This myth has been completely falsified by the scientific community as well as WHO. The same is true for the myth that ingestion of methanol, ethanol or bleach can cure. Both of these myths are unreasonable and extremely hazardous to health.
Moving on, social media platforms are sources of information which have facilitated myths along with the right information. However, myths are much more focused on and read by people as they intrigue and excite peoples’ attention much more. This has enormous consequences as information passed on WhatsApp is not fact-checked nor regulated in any way. Furthermore, like fuel to fire, social media platforms have become a source of fake news wherein made-up information is passed on.
Information accuracy is highly important in this infodemic and a solution to keep oneself safe before taking action. So how can one be sure about what’s right and what’s wrong and ensure that the information gained is accurate? Firstly, reading from primary sources of information is integral. This includes gaining information from newspapers and reliable sources like WHO, ICMR. When it comes to information obtained from WhatsApp, twitter etc. It is important to fact check with the primary sources and at least find additional articles which refer to the same topic. Secondly, never medically treat yourself even if the information is completely accurate. You are not a Doctor and you should consult your family doctor. We at Ranka hospital are ready to serve you through telemedicine appointments as well as through our highly precautious in-person hospital appointments in such a situation. You can call us at 24261530 for consultation.
Disclaimer- These are the views of the author. Please conduct your own research before following the contents.
Written by Rushabh Ranka