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Peddling Disinformation on COVID-19

6 months, 1 week ago

5706  0
Posted on Mar 12, 2020, 1 p.m.

It appears as if fact checkers are becoming even more occupied as well as scientists and experts who are scrambling to correct incorrect statements which are naturally being amplified by partisan media, propagandists and some officials globally.

From the moment COVID-19 hit some of the global administrations have appeared to be determined to portray an alternate reality around this outbreak. Using some of the incorrect information that has been provided the COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus that is no worse than the seasonal flu, and some of those responses claim that it this a hoax and media coverage of the virus is nothing more than a part of a political conspiracy.

Much of this messaging and narrative comes from tossed off tweets, impromptu public statements, and public announcements. In reality global health officials are raising growing concerns about the outbreak and efforts to play down COVID-19 which has officially been called a pandemic by W.H.O. To add to the play down efforts they are being greatly amplified by the multi-platform propaganda apparatus that are lobbying for (re)election ranging from administration communications, to keyboard commandos, meme warriors of the internet, prime time partisans, to campaigns running on places such as Facebook. Wherever it may be appearing the overarching false message is still the same: Pay no mind to the fake news and fear mongering about COVID-19 as it is lies and political hype, everything is fine.

Any who choose to open their eyes and actually look for themselves can see the overwhelming truth in plain sight. Actual trained scientists, experts, and fact checkers are desperately scrambling to try and correct misleading information. In America according to the CDC: NO the virus has not been contained, that is an impossible task, NO testing is not widely available to anyone who wants it. Most importantly this is not similar to the common cold or flu meaning most definitely NO people should not go to work or school if they are feeling ill. 

But the misleading responses to the outbreak unfortunately seem to have resonated even in America as a Quinnipiac University poll released this week has found that only 35% of Republicans are concerned about the virus compared to 68% of the Democrats, and it couldn’t be at a worse time as this could help further the spread of COVID-19 rather than slow it’s spread to help containment efforts. 

Global responses to this outbreak are also drawing some comparisons to that of the autocratic regimes in Iran and China where they tried to deny any issue and tightly control all information of detriment to the local population and watching world. What some administrations are showing is that they don’t need to force silence of actual experts, scientists, and researchers of W.H.O or even the CDC or the press to undermine politically inconvenient information about a public health crisis that is actually true and on a global scale, no they can simply step on a soap box and use a bullhorn to drown out anything true or not.

“Total containment isn’t in the cards, '' said Nancy Messonnier, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “Given the nature of this virus and how it’s spreading, that would be impossible. Our goal is to slow this thing down… We are preparing as if this were the next pandemic.”

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner, has been warning for months about the possibility of this virus spreading to America. Here is a 6 minute video of an interview where he talks about those who may be more vulnerable, the likely unknown spread, and the current lack of American diagnostic capability: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rel6TDmAnbE “We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.”

According to W.H.O the virus will cause a mild respiratory infection in about 80% of those infected, about half will have pneumonia and another 15% will develop severe illness with at least 5% needing critical care. W.H.O stresses that fundamental public health interventions can still help to limit the spread and drive down cases of transmission even in areas where it is spreading rapidly as the work from authorities in China, Singapore, and South Korea are showing. 

“This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector — so every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight,” says W.H.O Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who said that this is the first coronavirus to reach pandemic levels and also said “we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled.”

“We cannot say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough: All countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” Tedros said Wednesday. 90% of the cumulative cases have been reported in 4 countries is evidence that the rest of the world still had time to prevent an explosion of cases with action. 

Officials from W.H.O. stress that countries should be implementing a strategic combination of containment and mitigation measures that involves trying to detect and stop chains of transmission with isolation and quarantines as well as community level steps such as social distancing to limit the possibility of broad spread from unknown sources that may not be able to be traced or tracked. W.H.O is eminently dismissing questions that efforts such as this are too costly or resources intensive given what could happen if countries do not slow the spread of this disease. 

“What we’re seeing is successful are the fundamentals of public health,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, who heads WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonoses unit. “By protecting themselves, they’re preventing the onward transmission, which may lead to another vulnerable person,” while no one is immune, those who are more vulnerable include older and younger populations and those with existing health issues such as diabetes and heart disease.

Mike Ryan, the head of the WHO’s emergency program admits that public health interventions will not stop the virus dead in its tracks but it will help to slow the spread and flatten the curve to avoid adding burden to an overwhelmed health system. 

Tedros points to the lack of some countries in resources, capacity and resolve as their officials have been arguing for weeks that some are not moving quickly enough to prepare for an outbreak. While Tendros declined to criticize individual member states publicly, there was note of failures of some countries to trace contacts, communicate clearly, test widely, and failure to coordinate among agencies as well as between federal governments and states, etc. 

“You know who you are,” Ryan said about the countries that were not responding adequately.

This seems to strike home here in the United States where American responses are obviously hampered by more than one of these problems such as most notable the lack of available testing. America, the world is watching and will, no IS documenting accordingly. 

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Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.

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