Medical misinformation concerning Covid-19 and Vaccines

An Evaluation of Medical misinformation concerning Covid-19 and Vaccines
Table of Contents
Introduction 3
Background 3
Significance 4
History 4
Fig 1. Statistical Visual Display of Covid-19 Misinformation 4-5
Solution 5
Fig 2 Official UN campaign Against Covid-19 Misinformation 5
Conclusion 6
References 7
An Evaluation of Medical misinformation concerning Covid-19 and Vaccines
Misinformation denotes inaccurate and false information that an individual disseminates either with or without the intent
to deceive. Usually, misinformation occurs due to a lack of available data on a given subject, leaving people to speculate
(Roozenberg et al., 2020). Given that human beings are curious, failure to give proper and sufficient information on any given
subject creates room for them to speculate. The problem with spreading misinformation is that it can be fatal, especially when it
comes to medical information. Covid-19 and vaccines have been subjects of speculation and misinformation since the beginning
of the pandemic (Cornwall, 2020). In light of the above, this essay evaluates medical misinformation concerning Covid-19 and
Vaccines, as seen in the subsequent paragraphs.
Since Covid-19 became a reality, most medical personnel and governments concentrated more on preparing and mitigating
its effects than providing information. According to research conducted by Cureus, a journal of medical sciences, 24% of the
Twitter posts contained misinformation about Covid-19, while another 17% contained unverifiable information regarding the
virus (Singh et al., 2020). Given the above statistics, about 40% of social media posts concerning the pandemic were examples of
Some of the Covid-19 misinformation includes the notion that masks do not help contain the pandemic’s spread. People
argue that masks have no known medical value in preventing Covid-19 spread (Larson, 2020). This false notion, much like the
pandemic, is global. Tanzania, a country in East Africa, opined that Covid-19 was a hoax and warned their citizens against
wearing masks, making it illegal to wear masks in public (Larson, 2020). However, Robert Redfield, the director at the center for
disease control and prevention, testified that masks are effective and the only available tool to contain Covid-19. In addition to
the fallacious beliefs on the subject of masks, there has been misinformation concerning the Covid-19 cure. There have been
myriads of misinformation and rumors suggesting dangerous methods in search of a cure, ranging from snorting Cocaine to
consuming bleach (Larson, 2020). The true representation of facts is that Covid-19 has no known cure at the moment.
The most notable misinformation by the anti-vaccine movement is the belief that COVID-19 is not real, which is
dangerous (Cornwall, 2020). According to this group, Covid-19 is a ploy by a nefarious global conspiracy. They anchor their
arguments on vaccine manufacturers’ liability protection as their ground for insisting that the vaccine is not safe for human
injection due to its fatal side effects. Furthermore, a significant group of people in developing countries have consumed false
information about the Covid-19 vaccine and believe it is a birth control tool.
Since the spread of the covid-19 pandemic worldwide, rumors, conspiracy theories, stigma, and other forms of
misinformation have equally spread across online news platforms and social media rampantly. This scenario prompted several
studies by various entities into an inquiry of the Covid-19 misinformation to devise sensitization strategies properly. The
infographic below represents research published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The study weighed
the covid-19 misinformation in 25 languages across various countries between December 31, 2019, and April 15 2020. The study
infers that the covid-19 misinformation has significantly contributed to the injuries and deaths among several individuals (The
Wall Street Journal, 2020). Findings from the study has been graphically displayed below
Fig 1. Trends in Share of Fake Coronavirus news between January and May 2020
Source: American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
The impact of Covid-19 and vaccine misinformation is numerous and might be fatal. When people believe that masks
do not protect them from the pandemic, they are likely to refrain from wearing them, a case that has happened with most people
worldwide. Such behaviors enhance the spread of Covid-19 and undermine the government’s efforts to contain the virus.
Moreover, the misinformation about vaccines scares and discourages people from taking it. As a result, this negatively impacts
World Health Organization’s efforts to eliminate the virus. Overall, the misinformation around Covid-19 and the vaccine
undermines the fight against the pandemic.
The history of misinformation is as old as the history of the human race. However, particular misinformation about
Covid-19 began immediately when the world first discovered the virus (Larson, 2020). Facebook and other social media
platforms played a significant role in spreading misinformation about the pandemic. Considering that the virus was a novel
outbreak, even experts had no sufficient information as they were still researching the same, which only left room for more
speculation and misinformation. Notably, the World Health Organization has made countless efforts to provide more information
on Covid-19 and consequently reduced the amount of misinformation that the public consumed.
Fig 1. Statistical Visual Display of Covid-19 Misinformation
Composition of Covid-19 Misinformation by Statista retrieved from,
The above infographic is based on the findings of the study, pointing out the composition of the Covid-19 misinformation.
Out of the 2311 identified reports, 24 percent we related to the transmission, mortality, and illness, 21% were linked to the control
measures, while 19% were based on the cures and the treatment. Moreover, 15 % were relating to the cause of the Cov-d19, 1 %
was linked to the violence, and 20% were categorized as the miscellaneous categories (The Wall Street Journal 2020).
Misinformation thrives because of a lack of credible information. Both international agencies and national governments
should provide the public with more information about the pandemic to eliminate the rumors around the spread of Covid-19.
Besides, governments should develop policies on social distancing and other health protocols to help contain the virus. For
instance, those who refuse to wear masks should not be allowed to put others into harm’s way; as such government should arrest
anyone not wearing masks and flouting covid-19 protocols. Similarly, more public awareness creation and sensitization about the
vaccine encourage more people to enroll for the injection.
Fig 2 Official UN campaign Against Covid-19 Misinformation
Official UN updates on Coronavirus by United Nations Office
The infographic displays United Nation’s sensitization efforts in cooperation with governments and global experts to
rapidly expand the information on COVID-19 and advise the individuals and countries to protect the health alongside preventing
the spread of the pandemic. Statistically, the sensitization has significantly reduced the coronavirus misinformation by about 15
% over the last 5months (New York Times, 2020)
As scientists continue working round the clock on the vaccines and treatment options, governments, such as the United
States, has mobilized online platforms, international and national health organizations to work as a team to curtail the spread of
misleading and false information regarding Covid-19. For instance, United States has cooperated with health authorities and fastcheckers
to remove and flag disinformation. Likewise, through cooperation with third-party fact-checkers, Facebook works to
debunk false information regarding the Covid-19, label the content as bogus, and notify individuals attempting to share the
information which is confirmed as false. Facebook, in partnership with International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), launched a
USD 1 million funding initiatives to enhance their capabilities and has since been eradicating the content highlighted by the
public health authorities, which includes claims such as “drinking bleaching agents cures COVID-19” or false claims which
increases misperception about the available resources (New York Times, 2020). Besides, reports indicate that Google has
donated USD 6.5 million to fact-checkers with a focus on Covid-19. Likewise, Twitter widened the harm definition on its
platform to expound on the content contrary to the guidance from local public health information and authoritative sources.
Additionally, various states have strategized on the effective, long-term remedies on gathering the evidence systematically
in the recent past. Recently, the European Commission called on the online platforms to voluntarily provide transparent reports
every month. The frequent, transparent updates have helped the policymakers, researchers, and platforms themselves in
identifying ways of making improvements and providing the right information. The EU project this as a requirement to include
timely multi-stakeholder, coordination, cooperation, and other jurisdictions to develop a common reporting standard valuable in
reducing the information inefficiencies (New York Times, 2020). Besides, countries such as the U.S and the EU are working on a
common approach to facilitate cross-platform and global comparisons. The strategy is Ideal for maintaining transparency reports
and debunking misinformation about covid-19
In conclusion, this essay has evaluated the misinformation around the Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccine. It defines
misinformation as the publication and spread of false knowledge, information, and ideas about a given subject due to lack of
information. Some of the misinformation about Covid-19 that this essay has evaluated includes the falsity that masks do not help
contain the pandemic, that smoking bhang cures Covid-19, and that Covid-19 is a hoax. On the same breadth, the anti-vaccine
crusaders opine that it is not safe for human injection. It is a tool for controlling population growth that the vaccine is not
necessary for those who have recovered from the virus.
Cornwall, W. (2020). Officials gird for a war on vaccine misinformation.
Larson, H. J. (2020). A call to arms: helping family, friends and communities navigate the COVID-19 infodemic. Nature
Reviews Immunology, 20(8), 449-450.
Loomba, S., de Figueiredo, A., Piatek, S. J., de Graaf, K., & Larson, H. J. (2021). Measuring the impact of COVID-19
vaccine misinformation on vaccination intent in the UK and USA. Nature human behaviour, 1-12.
New York Times (2020). WHO Fights a Pandemic Besides Coronavirus: An ‘Infodemic’.

Roozenbeek, J., Schneider, C. R., Dryhurst, S., Kerr, J., Freeman, A. L., Recchia, G., … & Van Der Linden, S. (2020).
Susceptibility to misinformation about COVID-19 around the world. Royal Society open science, 7(10), 201199.
Singh, L., Bansal, S., Bode, L., Budak, C., Chi, G., Kawintiranon, K., … & Wang, Y. (2020). A first look at COVID-19
information and misinformation sharing on Twitter. arXiv preprint arXiv:2003.13907.
The Wall Street Journal (2020). The Coronavirus Misinformation Spread.
Post Outline:
Rhetorical Situation
● Proposition: There is an unacceptable amount of misinformation in the medical world due to the presence of
social media.
● Audience: This writing would target the general public, and more specifically teenagers, who receive most of
their information and knowledge through (unreliable) social media accounts.
● Genre: The genre of this writing is explanatory, in the form of a white paper, which is an academic writing
with formal language.
● Motive of the Author: The motive of the author is to persuade the reader to reevaluate their sources, and to
understand the logistics and science behind human health.
● Motive of the Reader: The motive of the reader is to be able to recognize when information on social media
is credible and useful, and when information on social media has the purpose to alarm people and entertain a
narrative they create.
● Goal: By the end of the White Paper, the reader will have enough information and evidence to understand
that social media does not private accurate and reliable information, and realize that the only thing they can
trust is research. They will begin to investigate their social media findings instead of blindly believing every
conspiracy theory they see.
● Plan: I plan on breaking this white paper down into headings and have enough detail and information to
prove an understanding of the topic, but still maintain it to keep it concise.
● Rhetorical Strategies: I will include color and images, along with graphs, pictures, and tables in order to
keep the reader actively interested in reading.
● Keywords: CoronaVirus, False Information, Fake News, Vaccine, Vaccine History
Logical Outline:
● Premises
Premise 1: Science based facts are our most reliable sources.
Premise 2: We have evolved as a species through actively researching and expanding technology.
● Proposition: We need to bring back the value of science based research.
● Reason 1: Because there is an unacceptable amount of misinformation being spread in the medical world
Evidence: For example, during the earlier stages of quarantine due to coronavirus, there was a trend going around
social media that led people to believe that 5G cell towers were causing illness and deaths and not the virus itself.
This was obviously not true, as 5G cell towers only existed in minimal countries, and the virus was a pandemic; it
was happening all around the world. (Include a source and quote here)
● Reason 2: Research leads to innovation, which is necessary for us to continue to progress as a species.
● Evidence: Every invention begins with an idea, but an idea is not enough. After the idea is decided, it must
be planned, and developed in order to become a real thing. A group of people are assembled, and they are told
to find ways to make the idea come to life; they research. (Use examples for airplanes, cars, etc as different
inventions that needed research, trial and error, and bring it back by explaining that these were only made
possible by understanding the factual information)

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