Impact of social and broadcast media on public health initiatives: Study of the COVID-19 infodemics

Umashankar Upadhyay, Eshita Dhar, Sherali Bomrah, Yarou Huang, Mohy Uddin, Ashad Kabir, Shabbir Syed-Abdul

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review


The outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), reported in December 2019, was declared a pandemic in March 2020. There was no specific recommended treatment for COVID-19 until the development of COVID-19 vaccine. Healthcare providers and the Government were struggling to find appropriate treatment regimens to manage the pandemic. Medication misinformation spread through social media and broadcast media had caused panic situations and self-prescription leading to harmful drug effects and antibiotic resistance. The situation was worsened following false propaganda via both social and broadcast media that led to shortages of some medications. This study shows frequencies of searches for the medications hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), azithromycin and Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine in Google Trends across six countries. Public interest in United States, Brazil, and India leaned towards HCQ, whereas that in Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea was keener towards learning about the BCG vaccine. This article aims to inform the public about adverse drug reactions of these medications to avoid self-prescribing, assumptions of political leaders and ubiquitous social media posts in near future pandemic and emergency.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe 19th world congress on medical and health informatics (MedInfo)
PublisherIOS Press
Number of pages7
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023

Publication series

NameStudies in Health Technology and Informatics
PublisherIOS Press
ISSN (Print)0926-9630
ISSN (Electronic)1879-8365


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