COVID-19 infodemic

Rumours, mis- and dis-information about COVID-19 are spreading rapidly around the world and can be almost as harmful as the virus itself. Hear from our Senior Project Manager in Bangladesh, Kate Gunn, about the latest developments from our new global communications initiative tackling the COVID-19 ‘info-demic’.

From working on BBC Media Action’s response to the Rohingya refugee crisis for the past 18+ months, I’ve seen firsthand how media and communication have the power to save lives.

The same is true in a health crisis. Trusted, accurate and timely information can help communities prevent or reduce the spread of disease, and guide those affected towards services and treatment.

This trusted information is needed now more than ever as countries across the world – including here in Bangladesh – take action against the COVID-19 pandemic and work to save lives.

There is so much misinformation swirling – from how the virus is transmitted, to where it has come from, to false rumours about its prevention and treatment. All of these can endanger people’s lives. I’m leading BBC Media Action’s new project, in partnership with Translators without Borders, Internews and Evidence Aid, to deliver clear, fact-based social media content to counter this ‘info-demic’.

There is a lot of content already being produced by a range of development, health and humanitarian organisations and by government departments to dispel misinformation, including the catchy Vietnamese song and animated video “Ghen Cô Vy” which has even sparked a viral TikTok dance challenge. There are many enthusiastic community-level producers too.

Still from the Vietnam Health Ministry’s video “Ghen Co Vy”

But while much of this content is really good, some of it we describe as “yes, but…” efforts: mixed messages which might reinforce behaviours that risk transmission of the virus, for instance, showing people in crowds on the street, standing too close together or shaking hands.

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by Kate Gunn, BBC Media Action

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