Showing posts with label Virus~Corona. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Virus~Corona. Show all posts

May 29, 2020

Misinformation Kills {{ He Thought The Virus Was A Hoax Until He Caught it }}

                               KQED Teach - Misinformation Course Collection


A BBC team tracking coronavirus misinformation has found links to assaults, arsons and deaths. And experts say the potential for indirect harm caused by rumours, conspiracy theories and bad health information could be much bigger.
"We thought the government was using it to distract us," says Brian Lee Hitchens, "or it was to do with 5G. So we didn't follow the rules or seek help sooner." 
Brian, 46, is talking by phone from his hospital bed in Florida. His wife is critically ill - sedated, on a ventilator in an adjacent ward. 
"The battle that they've been having is with her lungs," he says, voice wobbling. "They're inflamed. Her body just is not responding." 
After reading online conspiracy theories, they thought the disease was a hoax - or, at the very least, no worse than flu. But then in early May, the couple caught Covid-19. 
"And now I realise that coronavirus is definitely not fake," he says, running out of breath. "It's out there and it's spreading." 
Brian lee Hitchens in a hospital bedImage copyrightBRIAN LEE HITCHENS
Image captionBrian Lee Hitchens thought the virus was a hoax - until he and his wife caught it

Dangerous misinformation

A BBC team has been tracking the human toll of coronavirus misinformation. We've investigated dozens of cases - some previously unreported - speaking to the people affected and medical authorities in an attempt to verify the stories.
The effects have spread all around the world. 
Online rumours led to mob attacks in India and mass poisonings in Iran. Telecommunications engineers have been threatened and attacked and phone masts have been set alight in the UK and other countries - all because of conspiracy theories. 
And in Arizona, a couple mistakenly thought a bottle of fish tank cleaner contained a preventative medicine. 

Poisoned by cleaning products

It was late March when Wanda and Gary Lenius started to hear about hydroxychloroquine. 
The couple noticed a similar-sounding ingredient on the label of an old bottle that was lying around their house in Phoenix.
Hydroxychloroquine may have potential to fight the virus - but as research continues, it remains unproven. On Monday, the World Health Organisation halted its use in trials after a recent study suggested it could actually increase the risk of patients dying from Covid-19.
Speculation about its effectiveness started circulating online in China in late January. Media organisations, including Chinese state outlets, tweeted out old studies where it was tested as an anti-viral medicine.
Hydroxychloroquine tablets, which President Trump says he has been taking.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionPresident Trump says he has been taking hydroxychloroquine
Then a French doctor claimed encouraging results. Although doubt was later cast on that study, interest in hydroxychloroquine surged. It was mentioned, with various degrees of scepticism, by a variety of media outlets and influential people including Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
It also found its way into White House press briefings - and President Trump's Twitter feed.
"What do you have to lose?" he said on 3 April. "Take it." In mid-May, he went further - saying that he'd been following his own advice. Each comment resulted in big spikes in social media chatter about the drug, according to data from online monitoring tool CrowdTangle.
Overdoses of the drug are rare, but the anxiety produced by the pandemic has driven people to extreme measures.
In Nigeria, hospital admissions from hydroxychloroquine poisoning provoked Lagos state health officials to warn people against using the drug.
And in early March, a 43-year-old Vietnamese man was admitted to a poison control clinic in Hanoi after taking a large dose of chloroquine. He was red, trembling and unable to see straight. The clinic's director, Dr Nguyen Trung Nguyen, said the man was lucky he received treatment quickly - or else he might have died.
Gary Lenius was not so fortunate. The cleaner he and Wanda gulped down contained a different chemical, and was poisonous. 
Within minutes, both started feeling dizzy and hot. They vomited and struggled to breathe. Gary died, and Wanda was hospitalised. 
Wanda later explained why the couple drank the concoction.
"Trump kept saying it was pretty much a cure," she said.   
In Iran, authorities say hundreds have died from alcohol poisoning after viral rumours about its curative effects. 
The total was put at 796 by the end of April by Kambiz Soltaninejad, an official from Iran's Legal Medicine Organisation, who said it was the result of "fake news on social media."
The truth behind the number is murky in a country where alcohol is banned in Iran and bootleg moonshine is routinely contaminated. 
However in this case, BBC journalists did see rumours of the supposed "cure" spreading on the messaging app Telegram before the official announcement.
Shayan Sardarizadeh of BBC Monitoring's disinformation team notes that the announcement was potentially embarrassing to the Iranian authorities and, if anything, the number could be an underestimate.
In one case we verified, a 5-year-old boy went blind after his parents plied him with illegal booze in an attempt to fight the disease. 
"We know that bad information can ruin lives," says Clare Milne, deputy editor of UK fact-checking organisation Full Fact. "There's such great potential for harm."  
President Trump has speculated on a number of other cures beside hydroxychloroquine. In late April, he opined that ultraviolet rays could neutralise the virus.
"And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?"
Trump later said his comments were sarcastic. But some Americans didn't see it that way, and poison control hotlines received calls asking about the advice. Officials at one in Kansas said they heard from someone who said his friend swallowed disinfectant soap after the president's briefing. 
A mural in California showing disinfectant and loo rollImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Dr Duncan Maru, a doctor at Elmhurst Hospital in New York, says his colleagues have treated patients who have become acutely ill after ingesting disinfectant. 
"These ingestions also can have long-term consequences, like cancers and gastrointestinal bleeding," he says. 
Dr. Duncan Maru leaving his neighbourhood in New York to head for a shift on the front-line treating coronavirus patients
Image captionDr Duncan Maru heads for a hospital shift treating coronavirus patients

Arsons, assaults and conspiracies

Social networks have also been fertile ground for conspiracy theories. One particular coronavirus-related one - there are many circulating online - has resulted in arsons and assaults.
Across the UK, more than 70 phone masts have been vandalised because of false rumours that 5G mobile phone technology is somehow to blame for the virus.  In April, Dylan Farrell, an engineer for Openreach, was driving his van in Thurmaston near Leicester. It had been a long day and he was thinking about what he might have for tea as he pulled up to a roundabout. That's when he started to hear shouting.
At first, he thought it was directed at someone else. But when he heard "5G!" being screamed through his passenger side window, he realised the shouting was meant for him.
"You've got no morals!" a man shouted. "5G is killing us all!" 
Dylan Farrell was abused by a man shouting about 5G conspiracy theoriesImage copyrightDYLAN FARRELL
Image captionDylan Farrell was abused by a man shouting about 5G conspiracy theories
"I have no doubt he would have tried to get inside and physically attack me had I not locked the doors straight away," Dylan says. "It was so frightening." 
He drove away quickly. There have been no arrests in connection with the incident.
"We've seen a lot of conspiracies which have been online for a long time now about 5G," says Claire Milne of Full Fact. "Those have evolved to be connected to the new coronavirus." 
In March, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the pandemic would lead to a flare up of a "dangerous enemy". He was referring to racism against people from Asia and China, but the virus has exacerbated tensions in several countries. 
In April, three Muslim men were violently attacked in separate incidents in Delhi. They were beaten up after rumours circulated that Muslims were spreading the virus. 
In Sisai, a small village in eastern India, rival gangs clashed. It came after an attack on a Muslim boy, again linked to false rumours suggesting Muslims were spreading disease.
 One young man lost his life and another was seriously injured. False reports have circulated within ethnic communities as well. In Bradford, England, rumours circulated that non-white patients were being left to die.
And in Indore, a city in west-central India, doctors on a mission to track down someone who might have been exposed to the virus were attacked with stones. Misleading WhatsApp videos claimed that healthy Muslims were being taken away by health care workers and injected with the virus.
Two doctors were left with serious injuries after the incident in early April.

Critically ill from conspiracies

Online disinformation can have direct consequences, and social media platforms such as Facebook said they'll remove coronavirus posts that pose an immediate threat. 
But it can also have indirect or delayed effects.
"I hope she pulls through," says Brian Lee Hitchens, the patient in Florida who got sucked in by coronavirus conspiracy theories. "But if I do lose her, she'll be in a better place." 
Brian selfie in carImage copyrightBRIAN LEE HITCHENS
Image captionBrian used to believe conspiracy theories about coronavirus
Brian and his wife didn't have one firm belief about the disease - instead they oscillated between thinking that the virus was a hoax, linked to 5G, or a real but mild ailment.
So they carried on as normal despite official warnings. Brian went to work as a taxi driver in his hometown of Jupiter. He went shopping and picked up his wife's medications. Despite his wife's sleep apnoea and asthma, he didn't bother with social distancing or wearing a mask.
Man and wife bright lights on face at partyImage copyrightFACEBOOK
Image captionBrian and his wife at a party before the pandemic
Catching the virus brought Brian back to reality. He turned to social media, this time to warn people off of misinformation and conspiracy theories. 
Experts say posts like Brian's may be more useful in combating conspiracies than news articles and fact checks.
"One of the most effective ways of trying to correct the record," says Full Fact's Claire Milne, "is by getting the person who made the original claim to do it themselves." 

'We lose so many lives because of misinformation' 

Brian's may be an extreme case, but with the sheer amount of information circulating - the WHO has called it an "infodemic" - many other people have been misled by what they read online.
They're not killing themselves by taking fake cures. Instead, they're lowering their chances of survival by not thinking coronavirus is real or serious. 
On an unusually cold Friday in May, two men in their forties arrived at an emergency hospital in the New York borough of Queens. They were roommates, working long shifts and sharing a single bed, and both were seriously ill.
Within hours, Dr Rajeev Fernando saw one die in front of his eyes. The other was put on a ventilator. Dr Fernando asked the men why they hadn't come to hospital sooner. They explained to him that they read somewhere online that the virus wasn't very serious.
"They try alternative therapies," Dr Fernando says. "They think this is just like the flu."
The men were in at-risk groups - but Dr Fernando believes they would have fared better if they had ignored the misleading advice and sought help sooner.  Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, says he and his colleagues in the UK have seen patients taking tips from posts they see online - including holding their breath in an attempt to "diagnose" themselves or thinking that drinking hot drinks will fight off the virus. Some have cited President Trump's statements about disinfectant.
Dr Maru, the doctor at New York's Elmhurst Hospital, calls the numbers who have potentially delayed treatment "staggering." 
He knows of neighbours who have caught the disease and died because they believed that social distancing is ineffective or that coronavirus is a hoax. And he says that he and his colleagues spend precious time trying to debunk misinformation when they could be treating patients.

May 23, 2020

Members of Congress who Have Turned Positive or Ill of Coronavirus


The coronavirus pandemic has brought much of the daily work of Congress to a halt.
House and Senate leaders delayed bringing back members for several weeks due to the outbreak, as public health guidelines recommended continued social distancing.
The Senate finally returned in May, but the much larger House stayed mostly away as a result of advice from the attending physician to Congress. The same month, the House approved historic rule changes allowing remote voting and hearings.
During the outbreak, the virus has infected several lawmakers and forced many more members to self-quarantine. Some have announced symptoms from their home districts. And it remains an ongoing threat.
Two Republican lawmakers, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, were the first members of Congress to announce self-quarantines, on March 8. Both had attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., a few days earlier. An attendant at the conference had fallen ill, its organizers revealed.
The following week, the first two members of Congress announced they had tested positive for the illness. Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Utah Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams both said they developed symptoms after a March 14 vote on a coronavirus relief package.
Since that time, dozens more lawmakers have entered self-quarantines as a result of exposure to someone who was sick, including fellow members of Congress, constituents and dignitaries. 
To stem the flow of cases, both chambers have issued new social distancing guidance, such as encouraging the use of masks. the Capitol also remains closed to public tours and open only to members, staff, press and official business visitors.
This story was originally published on April 15, 2020.
CorrectionApril 16, 2020
A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Rep. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina as a Republican. He is a Democrat.

May 18, 2020

A Protein May Predict The More Severe Cases of COVID-19 According to New Study


A new study suggests that the protein soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) may help scientists predict who is likely to develop more severe COVID-19.
The research, published as a research letter in the journal Critical Care, may help clinicians identify people who are more likely to need intensive care support. It may also help them identify those who can safely manage the disease at home. 
Flattening the curve
The sudden emergence and rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has put health services across the world at risk of being overwhelmed. 
Patients who develop a severe infection of COVID-19 will often experience forms of respiratory failure, which, in turn, puts pressure on intensive care units (ICU).
Easing this pressure has been central to the responses of different governments. This has become known as “flattening the curve.”
If too many people require intensive care treatment in too short a time, ICUs might become overwhelmed and unable to care for all patients. 
This is not only dangerous for the health of people with COVID-19 but for those with other illnesses who need treatment in an ICU.
Flattening the curve has predominantly occurred through social distancing measures. However, scientists have been investigating which instances of COVID-19 may become more severe. 
If they can identify effective ways of predicting disease severity, then people who are likely to need intensive care support can stay in the hospital and potentially start receiving treatment.
Conversely, doctors can send those who are not likely to develop a severe case of the disease home. These people can then manage the disease through self-care, which will relieve pressure on ICUs. 
Is suPAR protein a predictor?
In the present study, the authors looked at the relationship between high levels of suPAR in the blood of people with COVID-19 and the severity of the disease.
According to Prof. Jochen Reiser, the Ralph C. Brown, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine, Chairperson of the Department of Internal Medicine at Rush University, Chicago, and co-corresponding author of the study, “[i]f we measure suPAR as part of diagnosing COVID-19, we may know whom to watch more and whom to send home.”
“Plasma suPAR levels give us a window into the course of the disease, allowing for an improved monitoring and applying new and supportive treatments early.”
– Prof. Jochen Reiser
The study analyzed data from 15 COVID-19 patients from the Rush University Medical Center and 57 patients from the University of Athens Medical School in Greece.
After measuring the patients’ levels of blood suPAR, the researchers looked at how long it took before a patient required intubation, which involves ventilating a person by inserting a tube into their lungs.
The researchers found that those who had higher levels of suPAR in their blood needed intubation more quickly than those with lower levels.
According to Prof. Reiser, “[t]his is the first report in the world to show that suPAR is elevated in COVID-19 and is predictive.”
“Since suPAR is a reactant of the innate immune system, it’s an indicator of disease severity. These results show that the higher the plasma suPAR level, the worse the outcome will be in the lungs of these patients. The higher the suPAR level, the shorter the time before patients needed intubation.”
As Prof. Reiser notes, “[t]here is a body of literature that suPAR is associated with poor outcomes from acute respiratory distress syndrome (a condition in many patients with severe COVID-19) and poor lung functioning in critically ill patients.”
This study is small, so further research is necessary to confirm whether suPAR is an effective predictor of COVID-19 severity. A recent article in the BMJ notes that the reported performance of many COVID-19 prediction models in the current literature is “probably optimistic.”
Nonetheless, the findings point researchers in the right direction to carry out this future research, including whether targeting suPAR is a treatment option.
Published on Medical News Today

May 8, 2020

Doctors Falling from Windows in Russia

Third Russian doctor falls from window after criticizing working ...

MOSCOW (AP) — Two Russian doctors have died and another was seriously injured in falls from hospital windows after they reportedly came under pressure over working conditions in the coronavirus pandemic.
The exact circumstances of the separate incidents in the last two weeks remain unclear and they are being investigated by police, but they underscore the enormous strains that Russian doctors and nurses have faced during the outbreak.
Reports said two of the doctors had protested their working conditions and the third was being blamed after her colleagues contracted the virus. 
Across Russia, doctors have decried shortages of protective equipment and questionable infection control procedures at dozens of hospitals, with many saying they have been threatened with dismissal or even prosecution for going public with their grievances. Hundreds of medical workers also have gotten infected. 
Dr. Alexander Shulepov, who works on an ambulance crew in the Voronezh region, 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of Moscow, fell from a second-floor window May 2 at a hospital where he was being treated for COVID-19, breaking several ribs and fracturing his skull.
In a video posted earlier on social media by his colleague, Alexander Kosyakin, both complained about shortages of protective gear. In the video, the 37-year-old Shulepov said he was being forced to finish his shift despite being diagnosed with COVID-19. 
But later, local health officials shared another video of Shulepov on social media in which he retracted his earlier complaints, saying he was being emotional.
Kosyakin was accused of spreading false news about the shortages after posting the video and is under investigation. He refused to comment to The Associated Press. 
It is unclear what caused Shulepov’s fall. Some local media reports said he slipped while trying to climb from his window for a smoke outside, while others suggested it was due to the pressure for airing his complaints in public. 
A doctor died from injuries she sustained in an April 25 fall in the city of Krasnoyarsk in western Siberia. Dr. Yelena Nepomnyashchaya, acting head of a hospital, fell from her fifth-floor office window right after she had a conference call with regional health officials, local media reported, citing anonymous sources.
The reports said Nepomnyashchaya had argued against converting a ward in her hospital for coronavirus patients because of severe shortages of protective equipment and trained personnel, but she failed to sway the officials. Krasnoyarsk health officials denied such a call took place. 
Nepomnyashchaya died May 1 in intensive care. 
On April 24, Dr. Natalya Levedeva sustained fatal injuries after falling out of a window in a hospital in Moscow, where she was admitted with suspected COVID-19. She ran an ambulance station in Star City, Russia’s spaceflight training facility just outside Moscow, which reported several dozen coronavirus cases in April. 
Levedeva died immediately after the fall, which health officials said was an accident. Some media, reports however, suggested she was distraught after being accused of failing to protect her staff from getting infected and had killed herself because of it. 
Russia has reported 166,000 infections and 1,537 virus deaths, but health officials in the West have said the country was underreporting its infections and fatalities.
There is no official data on how many Russian health workers have died working on the front lines of the pandemic and Russia’s Health Ministry did not respond to AP’s numerous requests for comment.
Last week, a group of Russian doctors compiled an online Memory List of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel who died during the outbreak. The list currently has 111 names.
Authorities have decided to reopen all industrial plants and construction sites in Moscow starting next week, citing a stable rate of new cases. President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday it will be up to officials in other regions to determine whether to ease lockdown measures that have been in place since the end of March.

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