Vaccines won't turn you into zombies: Expert backs 'good information hygiene' vs infodemic

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 25 2021 11:14 AM

Citizens use their phones in Quezon City amid the modified enhanced community quarantine on Aug. 16, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File
Citizens use their phones in Quezon City amid the modified enhanced community quarantine on Aug. 16, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA—A health expert on Wednesday called on the public to practice "good information hygiene" against false information surrounding COVID-19.

Dr. Nina Castillo-Carandang, member of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, said the world is also battling a fast-spreading "infodemic" aside from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"'Yung virus ng COVID ay mas mabagal pa po ang takbo kaysa sa virus ng mis- and disinformation. Mas mabilis pa po kumalat ang maling impormasyon, ang tsismis, ang mga bagay-bagay kaysa sa mga katotohan," she told Teleradyo.

(The spread of the virus of COVID is slower than the virus of mis- and disinformation. False information, gossip and hearsay spread faster than the truth.)

An infodemic is defined by the World Health Organization as "too much information including false or misleading information in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak".

An infodemic can lead to mistrust in health authorities, undermine the public health response and intensify or lengthen outbreaks, the WHO said.

False information regarding the outbreak include discrediting the threat of COVID-19 to conspiracy theories that jabs could turn people into zombies.

While washing hands can help protect against coronavirus, the same is true in filtering information, Carandang said.

"We need to practice good information hygiene," she said.

In fighting false information, the health social scientist said the public must practice these 4 steps she called as "SIFT".

  • Stop if you are feeling strong emotion, an urge to share, or surprise
  • Investigate the source
  • Find better or alternate coverage
  • Trace claims, quotes and media to the original context

"We need to be proactive about what we share online to have a positive impact on others," Carandang said.

With over 1.86 million coronavirus infections, the Philippines is battling one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Southeast Asia. To date, more than 32,000 people have died from the disease.

Only 13 million out of 70 million adult Filipinos have been fully vaccinated in the country since the inoculation drive started in March.