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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 91-93

Infodemic and its unwanted effect on COVID-19

1 Private Academic Consultant, Bangkok, Thailand
2 Department of Community Medicine, Dr. DY Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission13-Apr-2021
Date of Decision13-Jun-2021
Date of Acceptance10-Aug-2021
Date of Web Publication25-Feb-2023

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Pathum Sookaromdee
Private Academic Consultant, 111 Bangkok 122, Bangkok 10330
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jms.jms_59_21

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COVID-19 is a new disease that results in a worldwide pandemic. A rapid increasing of studies regarding occurs within a few period after its first emergence. The infodemic of COVID-19 data occurs. On the one hand, it can bring useful new knowledge. On the other hand, the negative impact such as misconduct and exaggeration off data occurs. In addition, since this new disease occurs in the IT era, the public health communication through social media regarding COVID-19 is also an interesting public health phenomenon. In this brief report, the authors summarize and discuss on infodemic and its unwanted effect on COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19, hesitancy, infodemic, malpractice, social media

How to cite this article:
Sookaromdee P, Wiwanitkit V. Infodemic and its unwanted effect on COVID-19. J Med Soc 2022;36:91-3

How to cite this URL:
Sookaromdee P, Wiwanitkit V. Infodemic and its unwanted effect on COVID-19. J Med Soc [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Jun 9];36:91-3. Available from:

  Introduction Top

In 2019, a new disease was firstly reported from Asia. This new disease is caused by novel coranarivurs and already causes pandemic.[1] COVID-19 is a new disease that is still global public health problem. As a new disease, searching for new knowledge is necessary to contain disease. The new data will be useful for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of COVID-19.

Since it is a global problem, academician and researchers rapidly studied on COVID-19 worldwide. A rapid increasing of studies regarding occurs within a few period within the first few months of disease emergence.[2],[3] The infodemic of COVID-19 data occurs. On the one hand, it can bring useful new knowledge. On the other hand, the negative impact such as misconduct and exaggeration off data occurs. In addition, since this new disease occurs in the IT era, the public health communication through social media regarding COVID-19 is also an interesting public health phenomenon. In this brief report, the authors summarize and discuss infodemic and its unwanted effect on COVID-19.

  Misconduct on Research Reports on COVID-19 Top

With a rapid increasing number of publications on COVID-19, it is no doubt that there might be an increasing rate of malpractice in published articles. The misconducts on publications on COVID-19 are already clarified, and it is an important problem during the current COVID-19 infoepidemic. According to the recent report by Gupta et al.,[4] the high risk of plagiarism occurs relating to a rapid increasing number of COVID-19 publications. Some prolematic works might already be retracted.[5] In the specific current COVID-19 crisis, some problematic authors who performed a misconduct might give an interesting reason such as there was no ethical approval and the approval was received after publication due to the closure of institute.[5] In contrast, some interesting case of with drawal of COVID-19 pulication are also observed. The good case study is on the withdrawal of a work after publication due to a language problem.[6] This is an interesting situation showing the important consideration of journal editing process via standard editorial guidelines during COVID-19 pandemic period.

Finally, it should note that the misconduct is directly related to ethical background of ones who perform it. Ng studied the effect of strict time constraint during COVID-19 outbreak and found no effect of time constraint on academic integrity.[7] This can approve that the time constraint or any difficulty during COVID-19 is not a reason for performing any misconduct.

  Exaggeration off Data and Extrapolation of Data on Social Media Top

Exaggeration of data is another important problem when a pandemic occurs. In many developing countries, local scientists tried to boast for their best ability to diagnose or treat COVID-19 despite there was no proof.[8] Many local scientists in developing countries invite local people to follow their therapeutic suggestions, without supporting evidence-based data. The situation might be more serious if there is also a hidden agenda from the local politic command. Some countries might try to show off that there is a successful control of disease by blocking any data that points to the failure of disease control.[9] In those countries, too good situation is usually reported.[9] It is no doubt that mass media and social media plays an important role in health communication during COVID-19, but if there is no good control, it can be a double-edged sword.[10]

  Extrapolation of Data on Social Media Top

Currently, many billion people globally assess to the Internet and daily receive information via social media. During the lockdown period, the lack of personal communication occurs and the role of social media communication increased. The extrapolation of data on social media is not uncommon. When there is a scientific report, the mass media practitioner might rapidly write news and extrapolate on the data through many mass communications and social media. For example, an extrapolation on the possible new mode of disease transmission occurs based on a scientific report, and it might result in worldwide panic.

The incorrect information and bias data might be posted on social media. A recent study showed that YouTube video reported more than one-fourth of the contents regarding COVID-19 were classified as misinformation, and there were accumulated more than 60 million views.[11],[12] The control of social media and mass communication during an outbreak is important. This is important to prevent a panic. The ethics of communication is required and the mass media communicator should follow the ethical guidelines on mass communication.

  Inconclusiveness and Hesitancy Top

Since the disease is new and the diagnosis and treatment for COVID-19 are also new, the data are usually inconclusive. With influx on uncertain information, it might cause hesitancy among general people. Regarding this problem, the important concern is on the data published in social media that might link to diagnosis and prevention hesitancy. For example, the data on outbreak is usually rapidly posted on social media. The governmental might not update to the situation if there is no active case recording system. The rumors might occur, and it is usually difficult to control the panic.[13]

The vaccine hesitancy becomes another important current issue. Although there are many new vaccines, the lack of complete data is common for each vaccine. It might result in vaccine hesitancy. The shared data on social media are sometimes widespread, and it might result in poor compliance to vaccination policies in each area. Some nations might try to have famous local medical scientists to give data, but the different ideas are common. This might result in frustrating among local people. In addition, the data are rapidly changed. The same scientist might give a new data contrast to the old one and can lead to the hesitancy against the data. Regarding effect of social media, falsified information regarding COVID-19, the vaccine continues to increase on social networking sites[14] and becomes an important current issue to be managed.

The hesitancy might easily occur if there is no trust by local citizen to the local government. If there is a doubt, it is usually hard that local people will follow the given information of local government. It should be noted that there are still many local politic conflicts in many nations during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a challenge to seek for the reliable information from third source in those problematic settings.

  Conclusion Top

Online social media information analysis by infodemiology study is required for managing on the present infodemic situation. It is the general ethics for researchers for following standard ethical academic guidelines in publishing information. The freedom in academic activity is necessary. There should be no bias in reporting. For general people, there should be a way for controlling of data posting on social media. A good al networking is needed. There should be a good undeniable medium of communication between the government and the local citizens. In addition, the government should be transparent, ethical, and fair for information managing during a crisis. Finally, ethics is still the key factor for honest communication during the current COVID-19 crisis.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Hsia W. Emerging new coronavirus infection in Wuhan, China: Situation in early 2020. Case Study Case Rep 2020;10:8-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
Solomon DH, Bucala R, Kaplan MJ, Nigrovic PA. The “Infodemic” of COVID-19. Arthritis Rheumatol 2020;72:1806-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
Rathore FA, Farooq F. Information overload and infodemic in the COVID-19 pandemic. J Pak Med Assoc 2020;70 Suppl 3:S162-5.  Back to cited text no. 3
Gupta L, Gasparyan AY, Misra DP, Agarwal V, Zimba O, Yessirkepov M. Information and misinformation on COVID-19: A cross-sectional survey study. J Korean Med Sci 2020;35:e256.  Back to cited text no. 4
Beato-Vibora PI. RETRACTED: No deleterious effect of lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic on glycaemic control, measured by glucose monitoring, in adults with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes Technol Ther 2020;22:643.  Back to cited text no. 5
Akhtar B, Muhammad F, Sharif A, Hannan A. Withdrawal notice: Therapeutic options for treatment of COVID-19: A review from repur-posed drugs to new drug targets. Curr Drug Targets 2020. doi: 10.2174/1389450121999201006193329. Online ahead of print.  Back to cited text no. 6
Ng CK. Evaluation of academic integrity of online open book assessments implemented in an undergraduate medical radiation science course during COVID-19 pandemic. J Med Imaging Radiat Sci 2020;51:610-6.  Back to cited text no. 7
Sriwijitalai W, Wiwanitkit V. Exaggerated information and COVID-19 outbreak. Eur J Clin Invest 2020;50:e13226.  Back to cited text no. 8
Wiwanitkit V. Editorial: “No case” as case study, a focus on COVID-19. Case Study Case Rep 2020;10:22-3.  Back to cited text no. 9
Ahmed SJ. Letter to the editor: Social media is a double-edged sword in the COVID-19 pandemic. Korean Med Sci 2020;35:e270.  Back to cited text no. 10
Basch C, Zybert P, Reeves R, Basch CJ. Health, development. What do popular YouTube™ videos say about vaccines? Child Care Health Dev 2017;43:499-503.  Back to cited text no. 11
Li HO, Bailey A, Huynh D, Chan JJ. YouTube as a source of information on COVID-19: A pandemic of misinformation? BMJ Glob Health 2020;5:e002604.  Back to cited text no. 12
Depoux A, Martin S, Karafillakis E, Preet R, Wilder-Smith A, Larson H. The pandemic of social media panic travels faster than the COVID-19 outbreak. J Travel Med 2020;27:taaa031.  Back to cited text no. 13
Yuan X, Schuchard RJ, Crooks AT. Examining emergent communities and social bots within the polarized online vaccination debate in Twitter. Social Media Soc 2019;5:2056305119865465.  Back to cited text no. 14


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