COVID-19 Pandemic: Tackling ‘Infodemics’ Through an Integrated One Health–Social Science Approach
Alam, N., and Chu, C. (2020)
The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which was first identified in Wuhan city, China, in late December 2019, has now spread globally with over 43 million people infected and about 1.16 million deaths as of 30 October 2020. COVID-19 is a novel and highly transmissible disease where little is known, which is why health authorities and the public alike have reasons to be concerned. With the spread of the disease, there has been an ‘infodemic’, which is defined as an influx of all kinds of information, including authentic information and also rumours, misinformation and conspiracy theories about the origin, prevention and treatment of the disease. With the growth of infodemics over social media and mass media, prejudicial and xenophobic acts became more evident, presenting additional challenges for health authorities. Effective control of pandemics such as COVID-19 thus requires large-scale, multifaceted response measures including risk communications. A transdisciplinary collaborative One Health approach has been increasingly advocated as an effective strategy to address diseases that occur at the human-animal-ecosystem interface. Similarly, the role of social science in risk communications in recent epidemics such as Ebola has been widely acknowledged. Timely interdisciplinary reviews, including a social and behavioural sciences lens, are needed to optimise the pandemic response through effectively combating communication challenges associated with infodemics and many other challenges in future epidemic responses. Keywords: infodemic, coronavirus, pandemic, misinformation, One Health, whole-of-government pandemic plan, social science, risk communications.