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VERIFY: COVID-19 misinformation claims on social media

The stream of false or misleading information isn't slowing down as the country sees a surge in COVID-19 cases

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — There's been a lot of misinformation spread on social media about the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the increased surge across the state and the country the stream of false or misleading information isn't slowing down.

By now, you may have heard of the word "infodemic." The World Health Organization uses the term to describe an overabundance of information, both online and offline, and includes deliberate attempts to disseminate wrong information to undermine the public health response.

We're breaking down three claims or "myths" that have been circulating the internet according to a number of sources, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.

OUR EXPERTS

Our sources to verify are Lancaster General Health Patient Education Specialist, Haley Fuller, and the WHO.

"These are highly emotional times for people," Fuller said. "So when they find this information, not only do they immediately take it as fact. They don't use the discretion they would normally use if it was coming from the news source, but they are also more likely to spread it, and quickly."

THE MYTH

The new coronavirus was deliberately created or released by people.

THE ANSWER: False

"The research is showing us that it's most likely from an animal," Fuller said. Sometimes these viruses, the longer they exist in these animals, can make tiny tiny changes. And over time they can morph into something that can be transmitted or shared with humans."

THE MYTH

Hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria, lupus, and other diseases, can help treat and even cure people with COVID-19.

THE ANSWER: False

According to the WHO, current data shows that this drug does not reduce deaths among hospitalized COVID-19 patients, nor help people with moderate disease.

THE MYTH

The likelihood of shoes spreading COVID-19 is high.

THE ANSWER: False

The risk is very low, according to the WHO, though it is recommended people take off their shoes at the entrance of their homes, especially if they have babies or small children who play on the floor.

Bottom line, all of these claims are false.

With the recent news of new vaccines being made, we asked Fuller whether or not one is available to the public right now.

"There are various companies that have come on to the market saying that they have a vaccine, in various stages of trialing," Fuller said. "So there is not a vaccine yet on the market that is publicly available, however many companies are working to find one that's safe for the public."

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