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Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

Report calls for national priorities to address COVID-19 pandemic misinformation

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A recently released Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health report is calling on the United States to address COVID-19 health misinformation and disinformation.

The call for a national strategy stems from the findings in “National Priorities to Combat Misinformation and Disinformation for COVID-19 and Future Public Health Threats: A Call for a National Strategy.” The initiative seeks an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic while preparing for future public health emergency challenges.

“It is time for the U.S. to address the problem of health misinformation and disinformation, and the development of a national strategy is an important first step in the establishment of a solution to this threat,” wrote Tara Kirk Sell, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, with her co-authors of the new report.

The World Health Organization and domestic national security agencies have expressed concerns about the spread of false or misleading information, including mischaracterization of the disease or protective measures needed to try to control it, information about false treatments or medical interventions, scapegoating groups of people, and conspiracy theories about profiteering and politics.

The strategy would include intervening against false and damaging content as well as the sources propagating it; promoting and ensuring the abundant presence and dissemination of factual information; increasing the public’s resilience to misinformation and disinformation; and ensuring a whole-of-nation response through multisector and multiagency collaboration.