Chandigarh/ Sangrur/ Dr. Amandeep Aggarwal: About 2 months after China first reported deadly outbreak of Covid 19, the topic continues to dominate headlines the world over. The virus has now infected more than 95,000 people in 79 countries and killed more than 3,200. Symptoms include Fever, followed by dry cough, sore throat, cold, sneezing, muscle pains, fatigue, headache, diarhoea, vomitting, pain abdomen, breathlessness, pneumonia, kidney failure.
Rampant viral posts have been shared on social media stating new coronavirus may have originated in a lab linked to China’s “covert biological weapons programme” thereby creating fear in the minds of common man and even medicos. Coronavirus had at least four protein inserts from HIV that suggests its Bio-engineered … If this report is true, it is indeed a bio-engineered virus. … The Coronavirus shows a trajectory of being a biological weapon.
A group of 27 scientists from eight countries, including the US, Malaysia and Australia, also condemned misinformation around the virus, saying in an open letter on February 19 that conspiracy theories suggesting COVID-19 does not have a natural origin do “nothing but create fear, rumours, and prejudice that jeopardize our global collaboration in the fight against this virus”.
An outbreak like this has many uncertainties, and when people don’t have answers, and scientists are not able to give them all the answers and assurances they need, they are likely to start speculating.
Such claims can be dangerous and have been linked to attacks and discrimination against Chinese nationals and people of Asian origin in countries such as Italy and against people evacuated from China in Ukraine.
The mass media should play an even bigger role in making people aware of misinformation and why it is so important to be critical, and think rationally when we consume information, especially in the online world.