August 12, 2020

Conspiracy theories, a challenge to combat COVID-19



The coronavirus is a biological warfare between powers, a laboratory experiment or a great publicity strategy. These conspiracy theories gain more followers every day and pose a huge challenge in the fight against COVID-19.

Since the beginning of the now globalized coronavirus crisis, it was not long before denial groups appeared that rejected what the scientific community established – the pathogen is more lethal and contagious than that caused by the common flu – and that minimized the severity of the pandemic, despite the thousands of deaths it has caused.

Some rulers have also taken a skeptical position, such as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who called the health emergency “hysteria” or “fantasy” fueled by the press.

Bolsonaro has criticized, in a veiled way, the containment measures adopted by some governors of his country and he, when he was suspected of having contracted the virus, skipped medical recommendations by shaking hands and hugging numerous followers in a demonstration to your favor last week.

In those acts encouraged by the leader, many held banners with phrases such as “I am not afraid of a virus” or “What is a coronavirus for someone who has survived communism?”

“This coronavirus does not scare me at all. I am not the least bit worried, it is just another invention,” retired Tina Alves told Efe during a march in Sao Paulo, capital of the homonymous state, where some 44 million live. of people and that concentrates the majority of COVID-19 cases in Brazil.

Among the theories that are increasingly gaining more ground globally stands out the one that defends that the pandemic, in reality, is a “biological warfare” between the greatest powers in the world.

“It is a biological war between world powers such as the United States with Russia in order to end China. I think that virus has been created in the laboratory,” 23-year-old physiotherapist Leticia Belaz told Efe.

CURRENTS AND BULLS ONLINE

Despite the fact that the coronavirus already leaves almost 15,000 dead and some 330,000 infected worldwide, the spread of false news, videos and texts attributed to health experts with the most diverse theories on the social networks and WhatsApp currents has increased. an “invention” of the epidemic, which would have dark interests behind it.

These beliefs defend that the coronavirus would be a “marketing strategy” of large pharmaceutical groups to an invention by China to assume global leadership.

“That coronavirus is less potent and much more harmless than H1N1, influenza or SARS. What happens is that when there is an opportunity to earn money, everyone wants to,” says an entrepreneur in a video that circulates in various groups. WhatsApp to which Efe had access.

“It is clear that this (COVID-19) has economic and political interests behind, to receive money, millions of dollars in resources to control an epidemic that does not even exist,” says a supposed Brazilian doctor in another video, which has dozens of Thousands of views in denial groups on Facebook.

VIRTUAL GROUPS DENY THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

Not even the most affected countries, such as China, the cradle of the epidemic, or Italy, the new epicenter of the disease and whose death toll now amounts to around 6,000 deaths, are not immune to hoaxes, denials or fictitious news.

A Facebook group, created in the Mediterranean country and titled “Fake News Coronavirus”, intends to discuss “the incredible deception” of COVID-19 and brings into its theories theories that the virus would be an “experiment controlled by the US . ” or that the crisis has been “invented” to collapse the world economy.

Other groups, such as the English-speaking “CoronaVirus / COVID-19 (No Censorship)” and which has around 2,000 members, allow publications both for warning and prevention, as well as for criticism or denial of the risks and the very existence of the coronavirus.

Some voices formed in weighty institutions have also created controversy.

Biologist and scientist Shiva Ayyadurai, PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology Masachusset (MIT), posted on Twitter that “coronavirus scaremongering” will go down in history as “one of the biggest frauds to manipulate the economy, eliminate dissent and push compulsory remedies “, a position he later reaffirmed, despite the avalanche of criticism he received.

“Our future, our health, our economy, our freedom is under attack and we cannot succumb to the fascism that fear and #FakeScience bring,” he said.

In addition, Twitter has removed one of the posts uploaded by former Wisconsin state sheriff David Clarke, who urged his more than 900,000 followers to “flood” bars and restaurants to protect his country from “hysteria” by one ” damn flu”.

MOBILIZATION AGAINST THE ‘FAKE NEWS’

Authorities around the world warn that the consequences of the hoaxes and fake news could be as or more lethal than the coronavirus itself, so that various countries are adopting strategies to stop the spread of fake news.

The European Commission called for accountability from citizens and has instituted the East Stratcom Task Force, a unit that is responsible for “reporting and helping to monitor” disinformation during the COVID-19 crisis.

In Brazil, the Ministry of Health launched a page and an online network with which it intends to deny the hoaxes and provide correct information to the population, while the main global media have created services aimed at verifying information and people’s orientation.

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