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Improving Understanding of and Response to Infodemics During Public Health Emergencies

Tara Kirk Sell, Divya Hosangadi, Marc Trotochaud, Tina D. Purnat, Tim Nguyen, Sylvie Briand
Date posted:
February 18, 2021
Publication type:
Health Secur. 2021 Jan-Feb;19(1):1-2
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
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Effective communication during epidemics and outbreaks is a critical component of a public health response. Even more than usual, people need accurate information so that they can adapt their behavior and protect themselves, their families, and their communities against infection, onward transmission, and death. However, during an epidemic or pandemic, the communication environment can be complicated by an “infodemic,” which is the rapid, large-scale spread of health information and misinformation through a variety of media and informational channels.1 This overabundance of information—some accurate and some not—makes it difficult for people to differentiate between false and true information, and has been particularly challenging to address during the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Addressing infodemics is a new and centrally important challenge to responding to acute health events. Given its global scale and rapid spread, the current COVID-19 infodemic is an important opportunity to find and adapt new preparedness and response tools to manage the information ecosystem in which we live.



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