The infodemic Covid-19
Dr. Muhammad Torequl Islam :
Besides the pandemic, we are also fighting against an infodemic situation. Fake news, misinformation, misconception, and conspiracy theories have become prevalent in the social media and have skyrocketed since the beginning of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. This situation is extremely worrying because it undermines people's confidence in health management and health programs in any country. In a very short period of time, medical and research results are spreading worldwide. On the one hand, it is hopeful, but on the other hand, it is a cause of fear, because in such a situation, their immediate application is also increasing. As a result, various accidents can happen before anything is understood. Journals, especially the medical journals should be more conscious about publishing any data related to the pandemic from the researchers on different arenas.
To date, doctors are generously treating patients with some drugs, including chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine phosphate, azithromycin, lopinavir-ritonavir, interleukin-6 inhibitors, favipiravir and dexamethasone. Although these are not specific therapies for coronaviruses, including the severe acute respiratory distress syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and there is no scientific evidence behind them that they can reduce mortality among Covid-19 patients. Physicians have not adopted any controlled, approved or specific approach in this regard. Some people's lives may be saved, but in the near future due to irrational treatment, there may be a detailed misery. The failure of these drugs is also affecting drug research progress in Covid-19. The large-scale vaccine trials could open the door to possibilities for an ideal vaccine, but the long line of vaccines will create an economic crisis for the impending epidemic.
Basically, we should maintain a healthy skepticism in order to save lives. The experiences of those who have already recovered from the Covid-19 should be shared more and more. Journalists can use the power of their stories to connect with readers so that they can have a sense of courage. In this way, not only the general public, but also doctors, pharmaceutical researchers and other health workers will get the decisions to take effective steps. Due to epidemics, physicians may suffer from skilled knowledge and rely on their own limited experience rather than scientific investigations. In addition to the different ethnic groups that have cured from the Covid-19, there is also a special need for same ethnic group's information; physicians will get a suitable platform to share their experiences. Adequate statistical evidence should be gathered about any complex decision; theoretical therapeutic techniques create suspicion - the success of appropriate treatment is hampered.
The current epidemic is a rapidly evolving setting from which researchers and physicians are regularly learning and making significant contributions to maintaining dynamic consistency in government policy. Researchers and physicians have to make decisions based on appropriate information, which often leads to disagreements with the government's political interests. In this case, the governments usually rely on the controlled data, which may provide false assurances to the peoples. As a result, the newly raised evidence may contradict their message and recommendations. This undermines public confidence; increases feelings of helplessness, harmful misinformation can be spread, which might adversely affect the government management of any country, including massive deterioration of public health.
Basically misinformation weakens the foundation of valid information. For example, the government management of many countries around the world have been regularly denying the long existence of Covid-19 to their people, thereby, giving some relief to the people, which is reducing people's fear of coronavirus and relaxing personal and social health measures. Especially in our country (Bangladesh) to understand the overall situation of the pandemic with low detection and mortality rate display is a type of harassment of any people in the country. Therefore, in order to maintain the integrity and credibility of professionalism and to rebuild public confidence, it is imperative that concerted action be taken by the political, corporate and scientific communities.
(Dr. Muhammad Torequl Islam is Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacy, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)