Wrong claims exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interventions helped spread the facts and create a base for future efforts.
Correcting wrong claims and bad advice is a complicated task when people rely on social media for news and medical advice.
A study of informational interventions during the COVID-19 pandemic found room for improvement for public health experts to counteract falsities.
“Health misinformation, similar to any public health issue, requires a multifaceted approach,” said the study, “A Systematic Review of COVID-19 Misinformation Interventions: Lessons Learned,” published in Health Affairs.
Researchers examined 50 papers published from Jan. 1, 2020, to Feb. 24, 2023, analyzing conspiracy theories, such as vaccines containing microchips, and unproven claims, such as gargling with saltwater to prevent COVID-19.
“Governments, public health authorities, and social media platforms have employed various measures to curb the spread of misleading COVID-19 information,” the study said. While social media giants Facebook, X and YouTube have been reluctant to share relevant data, researchers in the United States and other countries have generated academic studies of the effects of widespread falsehoods.
The bad news: “There is no silver bullet for mitigating health misinformation,” the study said. But there are measures that could help scientists, government authorities and news media disseminate accurate messages to the public, the study said.