CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC UPDATE: INFODEMIC, THE DISEASE OF EXCESSIVE AMOUNT OF LETHAL INFORMATION

By Akin Ojumu

Close to 3 million people across 185 nations have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus so far. And the number of deaths has soared past 200,000. Yet, the pandemic rages on like wildfire with little or no sign to give one cheer that the disease is abating, and the curve bending.

Already, the global economic impact of COVID-19 is estimated to be as much as a 6-8% contraction in GDP. In the US alone, 26 million jobs have been lost in under 5 weeks – the largest job loss the country’s history. The US congress, in an unprecedented move, has had to put the country on life support and assisted ventilation, with an infusion into the economy of more than $5 trillion in relief funds to keep businesses and individuals in a state akin to suspended animation. The economies of developing nations, which long before the pandemic had been chronically weak at the knees, are now been dealt with mortal body blows that most certainly will result in a knockout and a complete blackout.

Be that as it may, an even more deadly disease than Coronavirus is sweeping through the world and wreaking untold havoc. This novel disease is called Infodemic.

The World Health Organization explains that Infodemics are an excessive amount of information about a problem, which makes it difficult to identify a solution. They can spread misinformation, disinformation and rumours during a health emergency. Infodemics can hamper an effective public health response and create confusion and distrust among people (United Nations).

Worse than COVID-19, Infodemic is much quicker to spread (high transmissibility), a lot easier to catch (high infectivity), and far more likely to kill (high virulence). Much more than Coronavirus, Infodemic evolves and mutates rapidly to spread widely and survive perpetually. Finding a cure for Infodemic is, therefore, of a far greater urgency even than a cure for COVID-19.

In the history of virulent infectious diseases, the lethality of Infodemic is something the world has never before now seen or experienced. Hundreds of millions have tested positive and tens of millions more have lost their lives. With mortality rate that blows through the roof, contracting the scourge is a certain death sentence; it leaves no prisoners. In few short weeks, Infodemic surpassed all other diseases as the number one cause of mortality and morbidity in the world.

Unlike Coronavirus, Infodemic travels through the airwaves and is transmitted through the cyberspace. Face masks and hand gloves are useless is stopping the spread or preventing its transmission. With a single click, one person with Infodemic can infect up to 1 million people in less than 1 hour. When Infodemic touches any surface, it stays there permanently, as it cannot be wiped or washed clean, making it an even greater threat than Coronavirus.

Infodemic, as a novel disease, currently has no known treatment or cure and no one is immune. Worse still, Infodemic cannot be killed by disinfectants, heat, or ultraviolet light, regardless of whether they are applied to the surface of, or injected into, the body; bathing the lungs with Lysol will not eliminate the disease. The only remedy, while efforts to find effective treatment and vaccine are ongoing, is for everyone to apply simple commonsense containment and mitigation measures. The way to not to catch it is to not come in contact with it, because if you do, you may die.

Consequently, the borders of the mind must be permanently sealed off and a travel ban put in place to contain the spread of Infodemic to the thought process. We must immediately institute a robust social distancing measure to mitigate against infodemic as a matter of life and death. All the sources and outlets of infodemic must be put on strict lockdown. A widespread testing regime must be enforced as a means of detection. Anyone who tests positive for Infodemic must be promptly isolated and such an individual must be immediately quarantined.

Accounting for the largest number of infectivity and transmissibility of Infodemic are the asymptomatic and presymptomatic carriers. You can easily catch it from that trusted friend who seems perfectly healthy on the outside but who, on the inside, is being ravaged by the disease. Your spouse, significant others, and those family members of yours whom you trust with your life and with whom you share everything, are probably walking and talking petri dishes of a killer disease. Even religious leaders, elected officials and the President of the United States are super spreaders in the mold of Typhoid Mary.

Now, since you cannot entirely abandon your family, shun your friends, scorn your pastors, or completely tune out the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, it is only prudent that you adopt good hygienic practices of washing the mind with soap and water, or with thought sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol, for a period longer than 20 seconds after every encounter, especially when you suspect these individuals have infected you with Infodemic. During every such interaction, you must of necessity shield your reasoning faculty with personal protective equipment as a safeguard.

Furthermore, the bully pulpit of the information space must be yielded to those who, by virtue of their training, qualification and experience, have the requisite knowledge in Infodemic to provide the world with the factual and truthful information about the spread of Infodemic. These experts must be given the bullhorn, so that their sound advice can be heard above the din of misleading information and falsehoods. The very existence of mankind depends on handing over the megaphone to those experienced with Infodemic, so they can cleanse the airwaves from the toxic fumes of hoaxes released in the atmosphere by the deadly enemy.

Not to worry though, all is not yet lost. We are all in this fight alone together. If everyone does their part, we’d succeed in saving humanity one life at a time from the deadly scourge of Infodemic.

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