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Media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic has varied by country, time period and media outlet. News media has simultaneously kept viewers informed about current events related to the pandemic, and contributed to misinformation or fake news.
Within January 2020, the first full month in which the outbreak was known, Time recorded 41,000 English-language articles containing the term "coronavirus", of which 19,000 made it to headlines. This was compared with the Kivu Ebola epidemic, which had 1,800 articles and 700 headlines in August 2018. Paul Levinson, a researcher in communications and media studies, attributed this wide disparity to backlash from perceived overcoverage of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, coupled with concerns regarding Chinese censorship of the coverage.
Recode reported on 17 March that, out of 3,000 high-traffic news sites, around 1 percent of published articles are related to the disease, but those articles generate around 13 percent of all views, with subtopics such as social distancing, flattening the curve and self-quarantine being particularly popular. The total number of article views itself was some 30 percent higher in mid-March 2020 compared to in mid-March 2019.
An analysis of approximately 141,000 English language news headlines related to the Coronavirus from January 15, 2020 to June 3, 2020 uncovered that 52% of headlines evoked negative sentiments while only 30% evoked positive sentiments.The authors suggest that the headlines are contributing to fear and uncertainty which is having negative health and economic outcomes. Another study found that news videos online did not portray coping strategies and healthy behaviors as much as they could have. Others suggest that news coverage has resulted in politicization of the pandemic and that coverage has been highly polarized.
A November 2020 paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research titled "Why Is All COVID-19 News Bad News?" found that 91% of stories by major American media outlets about COVID-19 have a negative tone compared to 54% for major media outlets outside the United States and 65% for scientific journals.
Issues with misinformation and fake news led to the development of CoVerifi, a platform that has the potential to help address the COVID-19 "infodemic".
It has been claimed that the extended and prolonged coverage of the pandemic may have contributed to a COVID-19 information fatigue, making it more difficult to communicate updated information.
The number of outlets and entities covering the COVID-19 pandemic will surely prove to have been a source of misinformation and confusion related to virus spread information and national and state policies. Dr. Sylvie Briand, Director of Global Infectious Hazards Preparedness Department of the World Health Organization, mentioned that one of the major concerns related to communication challenges is the role of social media. Briand stated that the WHO is carefully monitoring the coronavirus infodemic on social media utilizing artificial intelligence.According to Pew Research Center the most popular sources of news for adults in the United States include news websites and social media. Also, Twitter is recorded as having the highest number of news focused users among other social media outlets Romanian scholar Sofia Bratu conducted a study which considered individuals’ perception of the source of fake news by surveying nearly 5000 U.S. citizens and analyzing data from The Economist, Gallup, Pew Research Center, YouGov, among other reputable survey organizations. Scholars suggest that misinformation is to blame for escalated stress reactions, physical and mental health declines related to stress, and increased burden on healthcare facilities with patients who are not truly exhibiting symptoms or are exhibiting symptoms as an adverse reaction to false cures and treatments. However, Brafu does mention that televised interviews with COVID-19 survivors may in fact assist in alleviating stress, panic, and fear of death.
Others argue that newsrooms should play a role in filtering misinformation before ‘giving it oxygen’. [ citation needed ]While not all fake news is putting the health and safety of the people at risk, information related to COVID-19 could. Niemen Reports suggests that newsrooms should be working collaboratively to deliver consistent messages related to false and inaccurate information by choosing headlines, wording, and images carefully.
An example of fake news related to the COVID-19 pandemic was that the virus could be spread via 5G.Another, that the virus was manually created in a lab by government leaders or that consuming chlorine dioxide would treat or prevent the virus. Other viral pieces of misinformation include that Vitamin C and garlic could cure the virus even though this claim was never substantiated by health professionals. Misinformation has also led to racial discrimination and displays of xenophobia toward Chinese individuals through the referral of the disease as the "Chinese virus pandemonium" or "Wuhan Virus" or "China Virus". As a result of this misinformation several fact checking websites have appeared which utilize information from the CDC and WHO to debunk common viral information.
The first confirmed case of COVID-19, as reported by the Canadian Healthcare Network, was January 25, 2020 in a Toronto man who had recently traveled to Wuhan, China.The first case was announced on Toronto Public Health Officials' Twitter account.
The Chinese government has received significant criticism for its censoring of the extent of the outbreak. Immediately following the initial quarantine of Wuhan and nearby cities, Chinese state media such as the People's Daily initially encouraged social media posts seeking help between citizens on platforms such as Weibo.Multiple journalists then published investigative pieces contradicting official statements and media, indicating that the number of cases in Wuhan is significantly larger than is reported.
The first cases of COVID-19 were identified in Germany in January 2020.Controversy erupted over a January 2021 article published by the German newspaper Handelsblatt. The article stated that the AstraZeneca vaccine was not effective for older adults, but many responded saying the newspaper provided incorrect data.
The first case of COVID-19 was identified in Sweden on February 4, 2020.The most media coverage of Sweden occurred in early March. Sweden received a great deal of media attention because it was considered to be using its own plan, the 'Swedish Model' of herd immunity. Research has looked at the nature of media coverage and how Swedish policy was covered by the news media. Rachel Irwin, a researcher from Sweden, found there were six main themes: "(1) Life is normal in Sweden, (2) Sweden has a herd immunity strategy, (3) Sweden is not following expert advice, (4) Sweden is not following WHO recommendations (5) the Swedish approach is failing and (6) Swedes trust the government." She comments that not all of the information was framed correctly. She wrote a letter to the British Medical Journal stating that media coverage has inaccurately portrayed the COVID-19 policies in Sweden and that it did not have a "herd immunity" plan. Another article suggests that as other countries came up with different policies the Swedish policy model went from "bold to pariah".
The first confirmed case in the UK, as reported by GOV.UK, was January 30, 2020. In reporting about the outbreak, British tabloid newspapers such as The Sun and the Daily Mail used language described as "fear-inducing".According to Edelman's Trust Barometer, journalists were the least-trusted source for information regarding the pandemic in the UK, with 43 percent out of the surveyed trusting them to report the truth, behind government officials (48%) and "most-affected countries" (46%). This was despite conventional media being the primary source of information regarding the pandemic in the UK.
A study conducted in May 2020 in association with the University of Oxford showed that the UK public is exhibiting declining trust in the government as a source of information. Only 48% rated the government relatively trustworthy, which is down from 67% six weeks earlier. Moreover, 38% of people are stating that they are concerned false or misleading coronavirus information from the government, a figure which was only 27% six weeks earlier.
The first confirmed case in the US, as reported by the CDC, was January 22, 2020.News coverage in the U.S. has been more negative than in other countries, but has also helped promote safety behaviors including social distancing. Local news has played an important role in keeping communities informed, including in rural areas.
Some journalists in the U.S. have been praised for their coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic including Ed Yong and Helen Branswell. Among media scholars, many elements of mainstream journalists' efforts to adapt to the pandemic and provide reliable information to their audience have been praised, but some have been criticized. Writing for The Atlantic, Ed Yong noted that, as the pandemic unfolded, "drawn to novelty, journalists gave oxygen to fringe anti-lockdown protests while most Americans quietly stayed home". He also faulted that they "wrote up every incremental scientific claim, even those that hadn’t been verified or peer-reviewed."
President Donald Trump initially accused media outlets such as CNN of "doing everything they can to instill fear in people", a statement echoed by Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.Where people get their news has played an important role in people's attitudes and behaviors related to COVID-19. An Axios survey, conducted from 5 March 2020 to 9 March, found that 62% of Republican supporters believed that the outbreak's coverage by media is exaggerated, compared to 31% of Democratic supporters and 35% of independents. A Pew Research survey conducted from 20 April to 26 April found that 69% of U.S. respondents believed that the news media have covered the outbreak "very well" or "somewhat well" and that the number of U.S. respondents who believed the media have exaggerated COVID-19 risks had somewhat decreased. The survey also found that 68% of Republican supporters believed that the news media exaggerated COVID-19 risks, compared to 48% of all U.S. adults and 30% of Democratic supporters. Overall, coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US was substantially more negative than in other parts of the world—regardless of whether the news outlet was considered right-leaning or left-leaning.
Opinion hosts and guests on Fox News, a conservative media outlet, initially downplayed the disease outbreak, with some guests accusing other media outlets of overplaying the disease for political reasons.Trump also used interviews with the network to promote his early efforts to downplay the virus. One Fox Business host, Trish Regan, claimed on her show Trish Regan Primetime that COVID-19 media coverage was deliberately created by the Democratic Party as a "mass hysteria to encourage a market sell-off", and was "yet another attempt to impeach the president". Her program would later be cancelled. Tucker Carlson initially took a much more serious position regarding the disease, criticizing other hosts which compared it with ordinary seasonal flu, and stating on 9 March that "people you trust — people you probably voted for — have spent weeks minimizing what is clearly a very serious problem." Later on, the network's pundits began to endorse claims that hydroxychloroquine was an effective treatment for COVID-19 symptoms, criticize the wearing of face masks to control spread, and provide positive coverage to anti-lockdown protests.
According to study published by Cambridge University Press in May 2020, right-wing media coverage of COVID-19 helped facilitate the spread of misinformation about the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The novel virus was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019; a lockdown in Wuhan and other cities in surrounding Hubei failed to contain the outbreak, and it quickly spread to other parts of mainland China and around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020, and a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Multiple variants of the virus have emerged and become dominant in many countries since 2021, with the Alpha, Beta, and Delta variants being the most virulent. As of 26 October 2021, more than 244 million cases and 4.95 million deaths have been confirmed, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences beyond the spread of the disease itself and efforts to quarantine it, including political, cultural, and social implications.
COVID-19 misinformation refers to any kind of subject about the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in misinformation and conspiracy theories about the scale of the pandemic and the origin, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease. False information, including intentional disinformation, has been spread through social media, text messaging, and mass media. False information has been propagated by celebrities, politicians, and other prominent public figures. Multiple countries have passed laws against "fake news", and thousands of people have been arrested for spreading COVID-19 misinformation. The spread of COVID-19 misinformation by governments has also been significant.
The COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019. The virus reached the UK in late January 2020. As of 13 October 2021, there have been 8,814,735 confirmed cases and 139,950 deaths among people who had recently tested positive – the world's 22nd highest death rate by population, and with the most overall cases and second-highest death toll in Europe after Russia. There has been some disparity between the outbreak's severity in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – health-care in the UK is a devolved matter. Each constituent country has its own publicly-funded healthcare system operated by devolved governments.
Syra Madad is an American pathogen preparedness expert and infectious disease epidemiologist. Madad is the Senior Director of the System-wide Special Pathogens Program at NYC Health + Hospitals where she is part of the executive leadership team which oversees New York City's response to the Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic in the city's 11 public hospitals. She was featured in the Netflix documentary series Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak and the Discovery Channel documentary The Vaccine: Conquering COVID.
During a time of social distance and limited contact with others, social media became an important place to interact. Social media platforms are meant to connect people and helped the world remain connected, largely increasing usage during the pandemic. Since many people are asked to remain home, they have turned to social media to maintain their relationships and to access entertainment to pass the time.
Pandemic prevention is the organization and management of preventive measures against pandemics. Those include measures to reduce causes of new infectious diseases and measures to prevent outbreaks and epidemics from becoming pandemics.
Kizzmekia "Kizzy" Shanta Corbett is an American viral immunologist. She is the Shutzer Assistant Professor at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute and assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She joined Harvard following six years at the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health based in Bethesda, Maryland. She earned a PhD in microbiology and immunology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014. Appointed to the VRC in 2014, Corbett was the scientific lead of the VRC's Coronavirus Team, with research efforts aimed at propelling novel coronavirus vaccines, including a COVID-19 vaccine. In February 2021, Corbett was highlighted in the Time's "Time100 Next" list under the category of Innovators, with a profile written by Anthony Fauci.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, people can sometimes be labelled, stereotyped, discriminated against, treated separately, or experience loss of status because of real or perceived links with the disease. As a result of such treatment, those who have or are perceived to have the disease, as well as their caregivers, family, friends, and communities, may be subjected to social stigma.
Planning and preparing for pandemics has happened in countries and international organizations. The World Health Organization writes recommendations and guidelines, though there is no sustained mechanism to review countries' preparedness for epidemics and their rapid response abilities. National action depends on national governments. In 2005–2006, prior to the 2009 swine flu pandemic and during the decade following it, the governments in the United States, France, UK, and others managed strategic health equipment stocks, but they often reduced stocks after the 2009 pandemic in order to reduce costs.
Helen Branswell is a Canadian infectious diseases and global health reporter at Stat News. Branswell spent fifteen years as a medical reporter at The Canadian Press. She led coverage of the Ebola, Zika, SARS and swine flu pandemics, as well as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic is covered in Wikipedia extensively, in real-time, and across many languages. This coverage extends to many detailed articles about various aspects of the topic itself, as well as many existing articles being amended to take account of the pandemic's effect on them. Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects' coverage of the pandemic – and how the volunteer editing community achieved that coverage – received widespread media attention for its comprehensiveness, reliability, and speed.
The COVID-19 pandemic has strongly impacted the journalism industry and affected journalists' work. Many local newspapers have been severely affected by losses in advertising revenues from COVID-19; journalists have been laid off, and some publications have folded. Many newspapers with paywalls lowered them for some or all of their COVID-19 coverage. The pandemic was characterized as a potential "extinction event" for journalism as hundreds of news outlets closed and journalists were laid off around the world, advertising budgets were slashed, and many were forced to rethink how to do their jobs amid restrictions on movement and limited access to information or public officials. Journalists and media organizations have had to address new challenges, including figuring out how to do their jobs safely and how to navigate increased repression and censorship brought on by the response to the pandemic, with freelancers facing additional difficulties in countries where press cards or official designations limit who can be considered a journalist.
Plandemic: The Hidden Agenda Behind Covid-19 and Plandemic: Indoctornation are a 2020 conspiracy theory video and film, respectively, both of which were produced by Mikki Willis and promote misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic. Both feature Judy Mikovits, a discredited American researcher who has been described as an anti-vaccine activist. The first video, in addition to promoting various conspiracy theories, also features Willis and Mikovits discussing viruses in general and Mikovits herself. Willis produced the first video with a low budget under the name of his production company Elevate Films. Three months after the video's Internet release, the second film Plandemic: Indoctornation, which also includes other people, was released by another distributor.
Sylvie Champaloux Briand is a French physician who is Director of the Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases Department at the World Health Organization. Briand led the Global Influenza Programme during the 2009 swine flu pandemic. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Briand launched the WHO Information Network for Epidemics which looked to counter the spread of coronavirus misinformation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed race-based health care disparities in many countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Canada, and Singapore. These disparities are believed to originate from structural racism in these countries which pre-dates the pandemic; a commentary in The BMJ noted that "ethnoracialised differences in health outcomes have become the new normal across the world" as a result of ethnic and racial disparities in COVID-19 healthcare, determined by social factors. Data from the United States and elsewhere shows that minorities, especially black people, have been infected and killed at a disproportionate rate to white people.
During the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, many people began to spread false or un-confirmed data and information. This included politicians and other government officials from administrations in several countries. Misinformation about the virus includes its origin, how it spreads, and methods of preventing and curing the disease. Some downplayed the threat of the pandemic, and made false statements about preventative measures, death rates and testing within their own countries. Some have also spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. Changing policies also created confusion and contributed to the spread of misinformation. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) originally discouraged use of face masks by the general public in early 2020, advising "If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection," although the WHO later changed their advice to encourage public wearing of face masks.
There are several ongoing efforts by scientists, governments, international organisations, and others to determine the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. Most scientists say that as with other pandemics in human history, the virus is likely of zoonotic origin in a natural setting, and ultimately originated from a bat-borne virus. Several other explanations, including many conspiracy theories, have been proposed about the origins of the virus.
The Chinese government has actively engaged in disinformation to downplay the emergence of COVID-19 in China and manipulate information about its spread around the world. The government also detained whistleblowers and journalists claiming they were spreading rumors when they were publicly raising concerns about people being hospitalized for a "mysterious illness" resembling SARS.
The United States' response to the COVID-19 pandemic with consists of various measures by the medical community; the federal, state, and local governments; the military; and the private sector. The public response has been highly polarized, with partisan divides being observed and a number of concurrent protests and unrest complicating the response.