13.11.2020 change 17.11.2020

Fake news about COVID-19 could kill, warns microbiologist

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The growing amount of fake news about the coronavirus has become a danger for both modern civilization and for social life, and could lead to death, a leading microbiologist has warned.

Speaking at a virtual press conference on infectious diseases, Dr. Tomasz Dzieciątkowski from the Department of Medical Microbiology at the Medical University of Warsaw said: “As the pandemic develops, we are dealing with a COVID-19 infodemic. In particular, social media is full of unverified information as well as typical fake news. And that's dangerous. Be warned, false information could even kill you. When? For example, when proper treatment is discontinued or someone claims that ventilators kill.”

According to Dzieciątkowski, one of the most serious and earliest myths about the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is its origin. In one of the surveys cited by experts, almost half of respondents in Poland said that the virus was created in a laboratory in Wuhan. Most said that it was created on purpose, others said that it was created by chance, and every third respondent believed that it was created naturally. For 3 percent of respondents, the coronavirus does not exist at all, because it is fake news. The same number of respondents claimed that it was triggered by 5G technology!

Dzieciątkowski said: “The coronavirus is not an artificial creation, if you believe it, I have to disappoint you. It evolved naturally, as it often happens in the world of viruses.”

This is confirmed by scientific research carried out in many centres around the world. They compared the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus attacking humans with viruses isolated from bats, as well as the SARS coronavirus, which appeared in 2002 in Hong Kong.

It turned out that the SARS virus was very close to both the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which caused the pandemic, and to pathogens attacking bats. 

Dr. Dzieciątkowski said: “Sequence analysis of the genetic material has shown that there are no signs of mutation or deliberate mutagenesis. And for now we are not able to change the genetic material without leaving any traces.”

His research shows that views about the coronavirus largely depend on age and education. Young people aged 25-34 and with primary, vocational and secondary education believe that SARS-CoV-2 was produced deliberately in a lab. On the other hand, people with higher education and residents of large cities are convinced of the natural origin of the coronavirus.

Dzieciątkowski said: “We have quick and broad access to information on the Internet, but many people do not have the ability to verify the available information, so they pass on all the fake news they receive.” 

(PAP)

author: Zbigniew Wojtasiński

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