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Eating sea lettuce or injecting disinfectant won’t prevent you from getting COVID-19. Holding your breath for ten seconds is not a test for SARS-CoV-2. And Russian President Vladimir Putin did not release 500 lions in Moscow to persuade the city’s residents to stay indoors as part of the efforts to fight the pandemic. The rapid global spread of COVID-19 has been accompanied by what the World Health Organization has described as a “massive infodemic”. Huge demand for information on the disease, its toll on health-care systems and lives and the many unanswered questions about a virus that was discovered only in December have created the perfect breeding ground for myths, fake news and conspiracy theories (see ‘Eight ways to spot misinformation’). Some can be dismissed as ludicrous and largely harmless, but others are life-threatening.
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Nature583, 155-156 (2020)
Updates & Corrections
Clarification 24 June 2020: In ‘Eight ways to spot misinformation’, this article gave an arbitrary example of ‘Dutch scientists’ to imply an unnamed source, but as this example could be misconstrued as casting aspersions the article has been updated to simply say ‘Unnamed scientists’.