The saturation of misinformation.

Daniel Rosas MD

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Internal Medicine PGY1


May 4, 2020

San Antonio, Texas

Our ears as a glomerulus during a viral pandemic. Filtering the information.

"X drug is now the standard of care and mortality was drastically reduced!" We all are waiting to hear this statement, but at the same time, we've heard a variation of this phrase twice per week for the past few months. This is because of the vast amounts of information that are easily accessible, which leads to this kind of misinterpretation.

I will start my internal medicine residency in July. I wanted to begin my residency with all the information I could gather about the pandemic. I've been following all the virus information since December and I was part of the group of people that thought this was just a mild upper respiratory infection. In January I heard a podcast about an infectious disease doctor/epidemiologist agreeing with what I was thinking about the virus. This doctor said that the only thing the US had to worry about was to get the flu shot. He, I and so many more were very mistaken.

As soon as the WHO organization declared a pandemic, I began writing a manuscript for a potential treatment being studied. I spend most of my days gathering information on COVID-19. Wake up, scroll thru social media to see what nonsense was being said in there. I was able to follow the new studies that were being published. I even tried visiting to try to stay up to date on every single medication that was being tested, this was just not possible and honestly, I had to open my first aid book to look up some of them. I turned on the TV and watched the news for the number of new cases per country, new mortality rate per country, risk factors that increase mortality, potential treatments, etc. Driving my car and turning on the radio for the news to gather some more information, looking up the new articles that came out, listening to some good podcasts such as Plenary Session, The Curbsiders and Making Sense, to see how the great minds are discussing the pandemic, go through my texts and see the hundreds of pictures and links from friends and family either stating facts or asking questions, and last but not least going on the president's twitter page at the end of the day to see what information was being given to the public through this channel. The conclusion from all of these channels was the same, there is way too many misinformation.

The saturation of misinformation is a result of the amount of communication channels and how easy it is to spread information even if it’s not accurate nowadays. This will only continue to grow. This is where we come in and make a difference. We are a very useful tool to filter the excess information. Our medical education gave us the useful tools such as public health, biostatistics, epidemiology and other tools to look up information, and analyze it to properly say what is true and what is not and hopefully end the spread of a never-ending cycle of ¨someone told we that …¨. The amount of the population saturated with misinformation contributes to the anxiety that this pandemic is generating, so impacting at this level can help control the next anxiety pandemic.


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