CHICAGO (AP) – From speculation that the coronavirus was created in a lab to hoax cures, an overwhelming amount of false information has clung to COVID-19 as it circled the globe in 2020.
Public health officials, fact-checkers, and doctors have tried to crush hundreds of rumors in multiple ways. But the misinformation around the pandemic has been as upsetting as the virus itself. And with the rollout of vaccinations in the US, UK, and Canada this month, many lies are seeing a resurgence online.
A look at five stubborn myths surrounding COVID-19 that have been shared this year and continue to travel:
MYTH: MASKS DO NOT OFFER PROTECTION AGAINST THE VIRUS
In fact, they do.
However, the mixed messages at the beginning caused some confusion. U.S. officials first told Americans they did not need to wear or buy masks, at a time when there was a shortage of N95 masks for health workers. They later turned the tide, urging the public to wear cloth masks and face masks outdoors.
The early messages gave people “a little more room to pick up on these stories” against wearing masks, said Stephanie Edgerly, communications professor at Northwestern University.
Some social media users, for example, are still circulating a March video of Dr.Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease specialist, saying people “shouldn’t be walking around in masks,” though he has since urged people to cover their faces in public. Versions of this clip have been viewed millions of times on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
According to media intelligence firm Zignal Labs, US President Donald Trump and two US senators contracted COVID-19 during a ceremony at the Rose Garden, according to online, that masks are not an effective form of protection. Social media users claimed the blankets should not be effective as senators wore masks at certain times of the event.
But the masks prevent the viral particles from spreading. Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which continues to advise Americans to wear masks, cited research suggesting that masks can protect the wearer as well as other people.
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MYTH: THE VIRUS IS MANUFACTURED BY MAN
It was not.
Social media users and sites Fringe webs wove a conspiracy theory that the virus was leaked – accidentally or intentionally – from a lab in Wuhan, China, before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March. The lie has been espoused by elected officials including Trump.
The origins of the virus are much less scandalous: it probably originated in nature. Bats are believed to be the original or intermediate hosts for several viruses that have triggered recent epidemics, including COVID-19. U.S. intelligence agencies have also concluded that the virus is not of human origin.
Still, the conspiracy theory continues to circulate online and resurfaced in September when a Chinese virologist repeated the claim on Fox News.
MYTH: COVID-19 IS SIMILAR TO THE FLU
In fact, COVID-19 has been proven to be much deadlier.
The first similarities between the symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu led many people to believe that there was not much difference between the two diseases. Social media posts and videos viewed thousands of times online also claim that COVID-19 is no more deadly than the flu. Trump tweeted a flawed comparison between the flu and COVID-19 in March and October, as states implemented stay-at-home orders.
Science news updates.
Source: Twitter AP
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