Coronavirus: a Disease that spreads as fastly as its fake news


(Viktor Forgacs, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Bruna C. Nichelatti, a 3nd year medical student at the University of Blumenau (FURB). She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The great flow of people and information in the contemporary context has revolutionized the way we live. News, orders and travelers can cross the world in greater quantity and speed. However, this unbridled exchange doesn’t always convey only what we want.

At the end of 2019, we saw an example of this: the Coronavirus. A disease that in just over a month infected 28,000 people, caused 564 deaths and spread to 24 countries. Amid this alarming reach, speculation and false news spread as fastly as the disease. Information such as the similarity of the coronavirus to the HIV virus, people passing out on the streets of China, transmission by bat soup and use of homemade recipes for healing (whiskey with honey, oils, teas, vitamin C and D) are some of the myths that circulate on the internet. Most of this unsubstantiated information comes from social sharing networks and websites from untrusted sources.

Unfortunately, the intent of the sources of these lies is to cause panic and political polarization in the midst of a global health problem. In cases of epidemics that have occurred in the past, such as H1N1, which had the highest number of contaminated people and deaths, there was not so much population fanfare because of the lower spread of false information on the internet.

However, the way we have to combat this is through digital education. The orientation of the population to look for reliable sources of information, to develop a critical sense about the data presented and not to share dubious news. Reading government websites, such as that of their respective countries or that of the world health organization, is the best way to acquire truthful information about what is happening. In these electronic addresses you can find the symptoms (fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough), forms of contamination and how to seek help. Thus, the more people who know what measures to take, the greater the success in combating these biological agents.

About the author

Bruna C. Nichelatti is a 3nd year medical student at the University of Blumenau (FURB). She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Student Associations. Her aim is to combine graduation with scientific development and philanthropy, forming a doctor who acts on science while not forgetting the love of neighbor.

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