Flattening the curve of COVID-19 infodemic: experiences, not conjectures

 

COVID-19 was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020. Ever since, the disease has spiralled across the world with more than 169 countries affected. We are essentially looking at a new challenge and at an unprecedented scale. The global health community has responded by putting in its best foot forward . It is supporting governments, international agencies and the public to make best sense of what is happening and the way forward.

In parallel to this, BMJ Global Health Blogs have seen a massive flow of submissions around COVID-19. The ones published are a fraction of what is being submitted and we have covered issues ranging from trusting social media, ethical issues around control and viewpoints from specific countries like Ethiopia and India. With an evolving scenario, we continue to maintain our editorial standards. This is challenging – it’s a new disease, we do not know all contexts, which sources do we trust!

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BMH Global Health Blogs is now also seeing a surge of COVID-19 submissions with opinions on what should have been done, potential applications of different technologies for COVID-19 and learnings from different technologies and conditions. These are useful and valuable. But it is important, editorially, to draw the line between conjecture and meaningful opinions which promote debates. At the end of the day, we are a journal blog, and although the blog is not peer-reviewed, it still carries some weight, especially for the public who may not understand these intricacies.

With many countries under lock down (or potentially staring at one) and global economic depression almost certain, it is important for us as a community to be responsible.  The “infodemic” is thus not just of fake news and what prevents COVID-19 but also of opinions. Opinions on what should have been done and opinions of what will have to be done. It is very easy to criticise as a scientist , much more difficult to take a decision as a politician when all choices look equally bad. Having conflicting opinions being thrown around by scientists of repute makes the situation even more difficult.

But at the same time, we are keen on hearing and disseminating experiences of the global health community. We are particularly keen to hear from people who are in the frontlines of the COVID-19 response. What are they actually facing, what are their challenges, what keeps them motivated?

We are thus taking the unusual step of limiting our blog coverage on COVID-19 to experiences of people who are actually involved in providing care or managing outbreaks. If you want to profile these brave hearts, we are very keen too. We will however, henceforth not be publishing opinions on COVID-19 in BMJ GH Blogs to ensure we do not contribute to the “infodemic” and the consequent anxiety it is triggering.

About the Author : 

Soumyadeep Bhaumik is a medical doctor and public health specialist and is the Associate Editor, Evidence Synthesis, BMJ Global Health. He also edits the BMJ Global Health Blogs. He tweets at @DrSoumyadeepB

Competing Interests : 

I have read and understood the BMJ Group policy on declaration of interests and declare no competing interests.

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