CORONAVIRUS fake news, including that cow dung ‘cures’ the virus, has killed at least 800 people, a new study has claimed.
Misinformation about cures and preventatives has led to the deaths of hundreds of people across the globe- meanwhile, media giant Facebook has axed seven million ‘fake news’ posts from its site.
This so-called “info-demic” included ideas that drinking bleach and eating cow dung could prevent or cure coronavirus.
According to the study in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, which analyzed data from 87 countries in 25 languages, the spread of fake news had an impact on public health.
Results from the study revealed that roughly 800 people died from drinking highly-concentrated alcohol in the hope of disinfecting their bodies from the virus.
Meanwhile, another 5,900 people were hospitalized after consuming methanol – with 60 people going blind as a result.
In Saudi Arabia, camel urine with lime was hailed as protection against coronavirus.
A team of international scientists from various countries, such as Australia, Japan and Thailand, looked at data compiled between December 2019 and April 2020 as part of the study.
The study said: “We followed and examined COVID-19-related rumors, stigma, and conspiracy theories circulating online, including fact-checking websites, Facebook, Twitter, and online newspapers, and their impacts on public health.”
The scientists also looked into other rumours, such as eating garlic, wearing warm socks and spreading goose fat on one’s chest, as treatments for the potentially fatal virus.
As a result of their findings, the scientists urged governments and international organizations to better scrutinize the spread of so-called fake news.
They called on them to “cooperate with social media companies to spread correct information.”
This comes after social media giant Facebook said it removed seven million posts which shared false infomation about coronavirus, including content that promoted fake preventative measures.
Facebook said it relied more heavily on automation technology for reviewing content during the months of April, May and June as it had fewer reviewers at its offices due to the COVID-19 pandemic.