Infodemia, Fake News and Medicine: Science and the Quest for Truth
Claudio Tinoco Mesquita
Flávio Luiz Seixas
Besides fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, there is another critical problem that Medicine and Science need to face in this crucial moment: the spread of inaccurate information online. By the end of March 2020, more than 2100 Iranians were poisoned by the oral ingestion of methanol. Iran, as an Islamic country, has severe restrictions on alcohol, but in this case, patients told that social media messages suggested they could prevent being infected by SARS-CoV-2 drinking alcohol. Almost 900 illicit alcohol poisoned patients were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and 296 died (fatality rate of 13.5%).1 In the past, news was produced and distributed by a few organizations or private companies, but today, in the Internet and social media age, anyone can broadcast news online. Fake News is better defined as deliberate false information spread via social or conventional media.2 Fake medical News can mislead in order to damage an organization and/or a person. Another problematic consequence of a fake medical report is to make profits with some specific food, supplement or treatment.
Keywords: Coronavirus; Information Dissemination; Scientific Misconduct/trends; False Representation; Information Science/trends; Disaster Medicine/ethics.