CHICAGO (AP) — From speculation that the coronavirus was created in a lab to hoax cures, an overwhelming amount of false information clung to COVID-19 as it circled the globe in 2020.
Public health officials, fact checkers and doctors tried to quash hundreds of rumors in myriad ways. But misinformation around the pandemic has endured as vexingly as the virus itself. And with the U.S., U.K. and Canada rolling out vaccinations this month, many falsehoods are seeing a resurgence online.
A look at five stubborn myths around COVID-19 that were shared this year and continue to travel:
MYTH: MASKS DONâ€™T OFFER PROTECTION FROM THE VIRUS
In fact, they do.
However, mixed messaging early on caused some confusion. U.S. officials initially 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 reversed course, urging the public to wear cloth masks and face coverings outside.
The early messaging gave people â€œa little more room to take up these narrativesâ€ against wearing masks, explained Stephanie Edgerly, a communications professor at Northwestern University.
Some social media users, for example, are still circulating a video from March of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. governmentâ€™s top infectious disease expert, saying people â€œshould not be walking around with masks,â€ although he has since urged people to cover their faces in public. Versions of that clip have been watched millions of times on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Online claims that masks are not an effective form of protection spiked again in October after U.S. President Donald Trump and two U.S. senators contracted COVID-19 during a Rose Garden ceremony, according to media intelligence firm Zignal Labs. Social media users claimed that the coverings must not be effective because the senators wore masks at some points during the event.
But masks do prevent virus particles from spreading. Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which continues to advise Americans to wear masks, cited research that suggested masks can protect the wearer as well as other people.
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â€“ French President Macron tests positive for COVID-19
â€“ FDA plans to OK 2nd COVID-19 vaccine after panel endorsement
MYTH: THE VIRUS WAS MAN-MADE
It was not.
Social media users and fringe websites weaved together a conspiracy theory that the virus was leaked — either accidentally or intentionally — from a lab in Wuhan, China, before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March. The falsehood was espoused by elected officials, including Trump.
The origins of the virus are far less scandalous: It likely originated in nature. Bats are thought to be the original or intermediary hosts for several viruses that have triggered recent epidemics, including COVID-19. U.S. intelligence agencies also concluded the virus is not man-made.
Yet the conspiracy theory continues to travel online, and made a resurgence 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 proved to be far deadlier.
Early similarities between the symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza led many to speculate that there was not much difference between the two illnesses. Social media posts and videos viewed thousands of times online also claim that COVID-19 is no deadlier than the flu. Trump tweeted a faulty comparison between the flu and COVID-19 in March and October, as states implemented stay-at-home orders.
COVID-19 has been blamed for more than 300,000 American deaths this year, and has killed roughly 1.5 million worldwide. By comparison, the CDC estimates there are 12,000 to 61,000 flu-related deaths annually.
COVID-19 symptoms can be far more serious and persist for months. Health experts have also uncovered a range of bizarre coronavirus symptoms, from brain fog to swollen toes.
MYTH: OFFICIALS ARE EXAGGERATING COVID-19â€™S TOLL
They are not.
Social media users began photographing empty hospital waiting rooms earlier this year, claiming few people were sick with COVID-19. The photos and videos gained traction with the #FilmYourHospital hashtag, part of a right-wing conspiracy theory that public health officials and politicians were exaggerating COVID-19â€™s deadly toll. But fewer people are in waiting areas because hospitals started taking appointments virtually, canceling elective procedures and prohibiting visitors during the pandemic.
This month, a Nevada doctorâ€™s selfie at an empty makeshift care site set up to handle additional coronavirus patients was shared online as evidence that hospitals are not full. However, the photo was taken on Nov. 12, before the site opened. It has since served at least 200 patients.
MYTH: THE VIRUS IS A PLOY TO FORCE GLOBAL VACCINATIONS
Thatâ€™s not true.
Read the rest here please:
Sidqi, you now have your answer, apples to save all of humanity from this virus hoax, a solid proposition eh? However, let us not throw caution to the wind. This could also be a conspiracy by the fruit and veg industry to cash in, could it not? If not, why not?
Average life expectancy has risen over the last 100years due to modern medicine.
Why was life expectancy lower when everyone ONLY HAD WELLNESS herbs and homeopathy?
You are living a longer and healthier life due to modern medicine but denigrate it!
Reason? Modern mental health treatments are not as advanced.
"It cannot be faulted, tells us the benefits as well as the problems which may occur in some."
YES it can be faulted by people like myself who are very much switched on to what is really happening behind their nefarious agendas
Jawaid why do you guys keep believing in conspiracy theories?? I worship and serve the God, Not Big Pharma! or Satan aka (covid19 vaccines)
Seen as you guys are ardent supporters and advocates of the non tested covid Vaccine. You should be the first people together with your own families to take one. Are you willing to do that?
Either Put up or Shut up if you are not. So lets put it to the test. When you have done so kindly report back here after a few months or even longer when you have even more shots to tell us all how you feel.
We personally don't want anyone to take one but it's your body, your life, your choice but I'm compelled to warn you. It's called compassion for humanity.