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, Muhammad Ashad Kabir, Shabbir Syed-Abdul

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

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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 publicationMEDINFO 2023 — The Future Is Accessible
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 19th World Congress on Medical and Health Informatics
EditorsJen Bichel-Findlay, Paula Otero, Philip Scott, Elaine Huesing
Place of PublicationAmsterdam, Netherlands
PublisherIOS Press
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781643684574
ISBN (Print)9781643684567
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2024
Event19th World Congress on Medical and Health Informatics: MedInfo 2023 - International Convention Centre, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 08 Jul 202312 Jul 2023 (Program) (Proceedings)

Publication series

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


Conference19th World Congress on Medical and Health Informatics
Abbreviated titleThe future is accessible
OtherMedInfo 2023 – the 19th World Congress on Medical and Health Informatics – is proudly presented by the Australasian Institute of Digital Health (AIDH) on behalf of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA).
The conference will be held 8 – 12 July 2023 at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Sydney, Australia, proudly supported by the NSW Government and Business Events Sydney.
This prestigious international event brings together thousands of digital health leaders and practitioners at the forefront of healthcare and is considered a landmark event on the global calendar.
MedInfo 2023 will attract 3000+ Australian and international delegates, 600+ speakers, 150+ exhibitors and 30+ workshops and masterclasses.
Our event theme – THE FUTURE IS ACCESSIBLE – aims to inspire us to lead the conversation and implement actions where we collectively are building a health sector that is accessible, where data is not locked in silos and where both clinicians and consumers can work together in true partnership towards healthier lives, digitally enabled.

Bringing together an international and national audience, this is your opportunity to network, share, and highlight the latest achievements, advancements, research and innovation in digital health and health informatics.

We cannot wait to welcome you to the Land Down Under for #MedInfo23.
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