Strengthening Infodemic Management
While the Covid-19 pandemic continues to claim lives and livelihoods around the world, a silent infodemic is proving to be as dangerous.
The infodemic, defined by the World Health Assembly as the overabundance of information including false or misleading ones, has significant implications for public health management. Specifically, the creation and dissemination of inaccurate information hinder individual access to reliable sources and guidance, leading to the rejection of health interventions, disregard for epidemiological guidelines, and the proliferation of conspiracy-motivated beliefs and behaviour. For example, the association of vaccines with microchips and magnets has fuelled anti-vaccine sentiments, with data from across 23 countries in January 2021 showing that only 63% of respondents will accept a vaccine, well below the threshold of 75% minimum to attain herd immunity in a post-pandemic world.
Against this backdrop, it is important to improve existing information management mechanisms and generate new ones to ensure effective responses to health emergencies, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, applying evidence and risk-based interventions that drive positive health-seeking behaviour is key to building social resilience, promoting a sound understanding of public health, and providing citizens with the toolkit to protect themselves and their communities.
Ultimately, governments, organisations, and other stakeholders must strengthen infodemic management, regulate the information landscape, and create credible, constructive public health narratives. It is only with such collective efforts can the pandemic be truly and effectively be addressed.