Where to find the correct treatment? From science or infodemic

Let's be careful

Published in El Pais, 10 November 2021.

In recent months, people have been confronted with an unprecedented pandemic. For many, COVID-19 has made it visible how fragile our health system is and the urgent need for a transformation. Others just distrusting the health care system turned more to infodemic. Knowing that messages on different social media such as WhatsApp and Tok-tok do not have reliable content, many still relied on this knowledge to take care of COVID-19.

Many people have generated messages on social media of “supposed” medicinal cures. Several cures without any evidence of their functioning but have more followers than the treatments recommended by health personnel based on scientific evidence. What’s more, many treatments that originate from the infodemic are followed by medical personnel who are not up to date with the knowledge. This fact has become a problem and danger for society.

According  to Mills, et al. (2020) this is generated (1) distrust in science or the selective use of expert authority, (2) distrust in pharmaceutical companies and government, and the infodemic takes advantage of giving  (3) direct explanations, (4) using emotion; and (5) information  bubbles, that is, avoiding revealing all the information.

For a treatment to be formalized by evidence, many years of patient and symptom follow-up is required. Many patients are included in the study, preferably from different races, sexes, and ages. In fact, treatments are generalized to the population by averages obtained; some are contraindicated according to these results. And after many reviews, the treatment is approved.

What about infodemic treatments? A person takes advantage of his phone and transmits a message that perhaps turned out good for him. But is it true? Several aspects to take into consideration before believing. 1) If the disease recurs, the treatment would be the same as the first time in that same person. 2) If another person gets sick, would the treatment have the same effect? 3) Are there any side effects? 4) have all side effects been reported? 5) if the person dies, is it also reported in a video? Or are only the positive cases shown? 6) is there a medicine for many treatments? (Cancer, COVID-19, teeth, hair, etc.).

It helps by not sharing the infodemic. Let’s be careful not to recommend what hasn’t been tested.

About Kathya Cordova-Pozo 174 Articles
PhD. in Economics and International politics. Works in health and economics research.

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