Coronavirus misinformation responsible for thousands of deaths, study says

Coronavirus misinformation responsible for thousands of deaths, study says
Credit: Belga

Misinformation about the new coronavirus (Covid-19) has caused thousands of deaths, according to a study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

For this study, a team of international scientists from Australia, Japan and Thailand, among others, analysed data compiled between December 2019 and April 2020.

The research shows that about 800 people died after drinking alcohol to disinfect their bodies, while 5,900 people had to be hospitalised after consuming methanol, 60 of whom subsequently lost their eyesight.

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Some false information circulating on Indian social networks invited Internet users to consume urine or cow dung to protect themselves from a Covid-19 infection, and in Saudi Arabia, some publications claimed that a mixture of camel urine and lime protected against the coronavirus.

The study, which sifted through data from 87 countries in 25 languages, also found that some people of Asian origin and health workers were repeatedly stigmatised, and faced verbal and physical abuse.

Therefore, the scientists called on governments and international organisations to better control online misinformation.

Among other things, they urged them to "cooperate with social media companies to share the correct information."

The Brussels Times

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