Coronavirus Misinformation

The panic created by the coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, has led everyone to the internet to seek out information that will empower them with knowledge against this deadly virus. Unfortunately, there is so much misleading information on the internet, that we have to be very cautious of its origin and source of information. This article will point out the misinformation that has been circulating the internet and help educate you, the reader, of this.

Upon searching Google for the phrase "coronavirus misinformation," there are 103,000,000 results. The number one search result is to a website by NewsGuard Technologies, which states there are currently 207 sites publishing materially false information about the virus. These websites are notorious for publishing false health content, and political sites whose embrace of conspiracy theories extends well beyond politics. Among the hoaxes, these sites published that swallowing bleach or colloidal silver will prevent the coronavirus — when in fact, these "treatments" can be harmful. NewsGuard Technologies also documents and debunks the top 10 COVID-19 myths that have spread across these sites—and trace how each myth emerged and began to spread across the internet.

  1. MYTH: "The COVID-19 virus was stolen out of a Canadian lab by Chinese spies."
  2. MYTH: "The COVID-19 virus contains 'HIV-like insertions,' suggesting it was engineered."
  3. MYTH: "The COVID-19 pandemic was predicted in a simulation."
  4. MYTH: "A group funded by Bill Gates patented the COVID-19 virus."
  5. MYTH: "The COVID-19 virus is a manmade bioweapon."
  6. MYTH: "5G cell phone technology is linked to the coronavirus outbreak."
  7. MYTH: "Colloidal silver can cure COVID-19."
  8. MYTH: "Miracle Mineral Solution can cure COVID-19."
  9. MYTH: "Garlic can cure COVID-19."
  10. MYTH: "High doses of vitamin C have been proven to be an effective treatment for COVID-19."
  11. MYTH: "Lemon and hot water can cure COVID-19."
  12. MYTH: "The Italian Government is preventing migrants from being tested for COVID-19."
  13. MYTH: "Bill Gates plans to use COVID-19 to implement a mandatory vaccine program with microchips to surveil people."

To further read about these myths, go to https://www.newsguardtech.com/covid-19-myths/ and https://www.newsguardtech.com/coronavirus-misinformation-tracking-center/

The second result when doing a Google search for the phrase "coronavirus misinformation," is Wikipedia's list of unproven methods against COVID-19. According to April Thames, associate professor of psychology at the University of Southern California, anxiety about COVID-19 makes people more willing to "try anything" that might give them sense of control over the situation, making them easy targets for scams. Many false claims about measures against COVID-19 have circulated widely on social media, but some have circulated by text, YouTube, and even in some mainstream media. Officials advised that before forwarding information, people should think carefully and look it up. Misinformation messages may use scare tactics or other high-pressure rhetoric, claim to have all the facts while others do not, and jump to unusual conclusions. The public is advised to check the information's source. Some falsely claimed messages are even found from official agencies like the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other government agencies.

Below are the four categories of coronavirus misinformation from Wikipedia, which are each broken down further:

  1. Disinfection cleaning methods
    1. Hand sanitizer is not more effective than washing in plain soap and water.
    2. Soap is effective at killing coronaviruses, but antibacterial soap is not better than plain soap.
    3. Red soap is not more germicidal than soaps of other colors.
    4. Hand sanitizer prepared at home by mixing rum, bleach and fabric softener has been widely promoted as effective at preventing COVID-19.
    5. Vodka was alleged to be an effective homemade hand sanitizer, or an ingredient in one.
    6. Vinegar is more effective than hand sanitizer against the coronavirus.
  2. Gargling and inhalation
    1. Inhaling 0.5-3% hydrogen peroxide solution using a nebulizer could prevent or cure COVID-19.
    2. Gargling with saltwater was said to kill the coronavirus.
    3. Saltwater sprays kill the virus.
  3. Temperature and radiation
    1. Cold and snow do not kill the COVID-19 virus.
    2. Hot saunas and hand or hair dryers do not kill the COVID-19 virus.
    3. Exposure to sunlight, drinking warm water or hot baths/heating to 26-27 °C (79-81 °F) will not kill the COVID-19 virus.
    4. UV-C Light, chlorine, and high (over 56 °C) temperatures cannot be used on humans to kill the COVID-19 virus.
    5. Steam inhalation was suggested as a cure for coronavirus infection.
  4. Addictive drugs
    1. Cocaine does not protect against COVID-19.
    2. No evidence that cannabis protected against COVID-19.
    3. Industrial methanol was claimed to cure the coronavirus.
    4. Drinking ethanol alcohol also does not protect against COVID-19.

You can reference the Wikipedia article here, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unproven_methods_against_COVID-19

This kind of convergence of health conspiracies, political conspiracies and technology conspiracies have surfaced since the pandemic started. This amount of misinformation and myths may cause adverse health effects and even death, when considering the most extreme cases of individuals ingesting bleach and disinfectants.

Remember to always fact check before circulating and sharing information. Once you have all your facts straight and know how to properly be safe during this pandemic, it is wise to create job safety analyses (JSAs), also know as job hazard analysis (JHA), in the workplace. A JSA worksheet is a great document to help workers focus on hazards, consequences, and controls to determine proper procedures to follow, in order to perform a job safely. A job safety analysis can help share the correct information about COVID-19 and how to safely work during this pandemic.

An online job safety analysis app is a valuable tool to use when creating JSAs. JSABuilder is an example of an exceptional JSA software to use. JSABuilder allows its users to simply create, manage and store JSA worksheets, as well as activity hazard analyses (AHAs). You can see for yourself by signing up for a free trial here.

Also make sure to follow JSABuilder on Twitter @JSABuilder, where you can find tweets about Health and Safety, Safety tips, and updates on current Health and Safety topics.