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How To: Help Filter out COVID-19 Misinformation



A deluge of COVID-19 social media posts will spark questions about how you can identify trustworthy information and resources.


Think about the questions below to help you sort through the flood of info...and determine if the data are credible.


WHO wrote it and WHERE is it from?

  • Check the author's expertise and credentials...and look for the original source.

  • Take social media posts and news headlines with a grain of salt...and cross-check info with reputable sources, such as CDC.gov or MedlinePlus.gov, especially before sharing. *But be aware that even reputable sources may make a misstep when rushing to get info out. For instance, some studies are being published before undergoing peer review...others are being retracted.


WHAT is being presented?

  • Be leery of info that sounds too good to be true or triggers emotion. Reliable resources don't use terms such as "the best" or "clinically proven."

  • Don't rely on ads or testimonials...and watch for conflicts of interest, such as an author trying to promote a product.

  • Keep a study's outcomes and patient population in perspective. For example, hydroxychloroquine may prevent the COVID-19 virus from multiplying in test tubes...but this hasn't panned out in humans.


WHEN was it written?

  • Pay attention to publication dates...especially with quickly evolving COVID-19 recommendations. For instance, within a 3-month period, FDA authorized hydroxychloroquine for emergency use...then cautioned about the risk of serious heart rhythm issues...and now the authorization is revoked.

  • Remember that each clinical trial is just one piece of the puzzle...and many other studies may be needed to get the full picture. For example, many experts advise limiting steroids for COVID-19. A new report suggests dexamethasone improves outcomes in severe cases. But all early data should be approached cautiously.

  • Expect meds for COVID-19 to continue to be a moving target.


Resource: TRC: Pharmacy Technician Letter


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