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Doctors, journalists battle a plague of COVID-19 misinformation

Dr. Mark Rupp says masks work, hydroxychloroquine is not effective and the coronavirus is deadlier than influenza.
Posted at 6:38 PM, Oct 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 04:40:19-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — With this pandemic has come the spread of COVID-19 misinformation.

While trying to help flatten the curve, doctors are also working to debunk a variety of myths misleading people down a potentially dangerous path.

Dr. Mark Rupp, an infectious disease expert with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, says these falsehoods are a plague of their own.

“There is just a huge amount of wasted effort right now dedicated towards these things that I just wish we could devote towards things that were more productive,” Dr. Rupp said.

He says masks work, hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment for COVID-19 and the coronavirus is deadlier than the flu. He adds it’s all in the data.

Tanya Lewis, a journalist for Scientific American, is on the frontlines of this misinformation battle, as well.

“You are constantly fighting a war on two fronts,” Lewis said. “You are trying to get accurate information out there, but also combat misinformation.”

She calls it the “infodemic,” a virus of half-truths. She breaks it all down in the Nine COVID-19 Myths That Just Won’t Go Away.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Lewis said. “As a science journalist, we sort of pride ourselves on following the data and the evidence. Clearly this administration has ignored both of those and, in fact, many cases kind of suppressed scientific expertise.”

With the recent increase of coronavirus cases in Douglas County, the herd immunity myth has made a resurgence. Many people believe the virus should just take it’s course.

“Just opening up the gates and letting nature take its course is just going to be reckless,” Dr. Rupp said.

He adds the goal is to move towards herd immunity, but he would like to see that done in a controlled setting with a vaccine.

He says about 10 percent of the country has been hit with COVID-19, adding that is nowhere near herd immunity levels.

“In order to get up to the 50, 60, 70 percent level of immunity, just think about how much more morbidity and mortality that we would sustain in trying to get to that number through natural disease,” Rupp said.

Dr. Rupp reiterates the time spent on debunking myths could be spent helping the cause.

He says most myths that spread rampantly do have some kernel of truth to them.

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