The UN has been focusing on misinformation in connection with COVID-19, stating that misinformation is a virus. Surprisingly, there are instances where public figures such as elected officials like the presidents of Brazil and the USA have indulged in disseminating misinformation. It is difficult to understand why elected officials would circulate misinformation about a pandemic, seemingly for short-term victories or momentary political gains, when their people are becoming sick and dying. Imposing their misguided, and sometimes deadly, interpretations of the crisis on the public has been reckless and is a regrettable way of exercising power.
There is no doubt that tackling the misinformation is as relevant as mitigation and prevention of the disease when confronting an unprecedented public health crisis like the COVID-19.
India shines as an example of successful engagement with the misinformation adopting vigorous and innovative strategies to confront situations that can be described as calculated distortions of the truth perpetrated by certain opinion makers, public figures and politicians via the media, especially social media.
India has successfully contained the deadly threat of misinformation about COVID-19 and is showing the early signs of succeeding in containing the pandemic itself. The Lancet is however not too optimistic about Indian success (www.thelancet.com p. 867 Vol 396 September 26, 2020). Let us hope that ‘The Lancet’ is not propelling some misinformation about India (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/lancets-pessimism-indias-optimism-mukul-gupta).
(First published 08 October 2020)
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