Correcting Common COVID-19 Myths
Despite COVID-19 (Coronavirus, 2019) being a worldwide pandemic that has alerted the globe throughout 2020, numerous pieces of misinformation and outright propaganda continue to exist. Popular social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube continue to host a slew of false information despite their efforts to stop their spread.
One popular myth concerns 5G networks causing COVID-19, despite radio waves not being able to create a virus, which is what COVID-19 is. United States celebrities, who do not have any expertise in outbreak prevention or cause have been proponents of the rumors. Singer Keri Hilson and actor Woody Harrelson are two that have recently spread rumors.
In early April, YouTube released the following statement to begin combating the spread of the false 5G rumors on their platform:
Now any content that disputes the existence or transmission of COVID-19, as described by the WHO and local health authorities, is in violation of YouTube policies. This includes conspiracy theories which claim that the symptoms are caused by 5G.
We’ll continue to evaluate the impact of these videos on communities around the world and look forward to maintaining our work with governments and health institutions to keep the public safe and informed during this difficult time.
Their policy led to the banning of former footballer David Icke who was also banned on Facebook. “We commend YouTube on bowing to pressure and taking action on David Icke’s channel. However, there remains a network of channels and shadowy amplifiers, who promote Mr Icke’s content [and] need to be removed,” said Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) chief executive Imran Ahmed regarding YouTube’s removal of Icke.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues to spread rumors that he believes COVID-19 was created in a Chinese lab in the Wuhan province, despite multiple reports stating the virus may have been in humans for years.
The proximal origin of SARS-Cov-2 was published on March 17, 2020, and came to the direct conclusion COVID-19 was not created in a lab or manipulated by humans.
SARS-CoV-2 is the seventh coronavirus known to infect humans; SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 can cause severe disease, whereas HKU1, NL63, OC43 and 229E are associated with mild symptoms. Here we review what can be deduced about the origin of SARS-CoV-2 from comparative analysis of genomic data. We offer a perspective on the notable features of the SARS-CoV-2 genome and discuss scenarios by which they could have arisen. Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.
The research details several possible theories of how COVID-19 began being passed through humans including: ‘Natural selection in an animal host before zoonotic transfer,’ ‘Natural selection in humans following zoonotic transfer,’ and ‘Selection during passage.’
In reaction to Secretary Pompeo’s claims, Chinese state media demands the United States government present evidence showing the pandemic originated at a research laboratory in Wuhan.
While the planet continues to battle COVID-19, the ongoing war against misinformation and propaganda surrounding the outbreak is important to keep the virus from spreading even further into society.