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The biggest pandemic risk? Viral misinformation

18 Oct, 2018
, Source:

published in Nature 562, 309 (2018)

A century after the world’s worst flu epidemic, rapid spread of misinformation is undermining trust in vaccines crucial to public health.

A hundred years ago this month, the death rate from the 1918 influenza was at its peak. An estimated 500 million people were infected over the course of the pandemic; between 50 million and 100 million died, around 3% of the global population at the time.

A century on, advances in vaccines have made massive outbreaks of flu — and measles, rubella, diphtheria and polio — rare. But people still discount their risks of disease. Few realize that flu and its complications caused an estimated 80,000 deaths in the United States alone this past winter, mainly in the elderly and infirm. Of the 183 children whose deaths were confirmed as flu-related, 80% had not been vaccinated that season, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I predict that the next major outbreak — whether of a highly fatal strain of influenza or something else — will not be due to a lack of preventive technologies. Instead, emotional contagion, digitally enabled, could erode trust in vaccines so much as to render them moot. The deluge of conflicting information, misinformation and manipulated information on social media should be recognized as a global public-health threat…

read full article in Nature : click here

 

 

 

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 18th, 2018 at 9:03 am and is filed under Blog.

Videos Video archive

In this episode of Take as Directed, J. Stephen Morrison speaks with Dr. Heidi Larson on why vaccine confidence is currently in crisis, and how this has fueled outbreaks such as measles and the persistence of polio in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Prof Larson discusses vaccine hesitancy and its implications across global health in this webinar.

VCP Research Fellow Emilie Karafillakis comments on the anti-vaccination movement, the role of social media and the importance of rebuilding trust. 

Literature Literature archive

KT Paul, K Loer 2019 Journal of Public Health Policy Volume 40, Issue 2
J Kennedy 2019 The European Journal of Public Health Vol. 29, No. 3, 512–516
C Lynderup Lübker,E Lynge 2019 European Journal of Public Health Vol 29 (3):500–505. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/cky235
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