Published on March 8, 2021

Ahmedabad: In the beginning of the pandemic, Covid-19 patients were literally ostracized as it was not clear how the infection could spread. The early phase of pandemic also saw specific groups targeted as potential ‘super spreaders.’

A slew of medicines – both conventional and non-conventional – flooded the market and psyche of the society without any scientific basis. Why does a pandemic – present or past – result in panic?

A recent paper tried to answer these questions, arguing that the lack of information is filled by such narratives, primarily in the form of social media posts and their forwards. The experts term it ‘infodemic.’

A paper titled ‘Combating the Covid-19 infodemic: A three-level approach for low and middle-income countries’ published in BMJ Global Health journal suggested steps like education of the members of public, assuring quality and periodic information, digital fact-checking, leveraging community-level networks and developing fake information surveillance could help counter the phenomenon.

Dr Apurva Kumar Pandya, scientist D with IIPH Gandhinagar (IIPH-G), one of the authors of the paper, said that the phenomenon was not limited to India. “Across the globe, we find such examples. But timely countering it can reduce major damage,” he said.

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