The Daily Dose: Researchers are searching for a way to inoculating against scientific disinformation online

As anyone who has spent time on the Internet knows, scientific misinformation is everywhere. Lately, that problem has been exacerbated by deliberate disinformation. Researchers are now trying to better understand the problem and are hoping to devise “inoculations” against it. Per the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “the fight against misinformation isn’t hopeless. One key may be finding a different line of attack. Some researchers have gotten promising, if preliminary, results by “inoculating” people with training videos and games even before they’re exposed to misinformation. Others are trying to deal with the aftermath of such exposure using approaches that change the minds of people who have already received a false message.” It will take a long an broad effort to counter shady “facts” online.

Africa has largely been spared the devastation COVID-19 has been inflicting on most parts of the world. Now, scientists want to know why. According to Science, “After testing more than 3000 blood donors, Uyoga and colleagues estimated in a preprint last month that one in 20 Kenyans aged 15 to 64—or 1.6 million people—has antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, an indication of past infection. That would put Kenya on a par with Spain in mid-May when that country was descending from its coronavirus peak and had 27,000 official COVID-19 deaths. Kenya’s official toll stood at 100 when the study ended. And Kenya’s hospitals are not reporting huge numbers of people with COVID-19 symptoms.” If the pattern continues to hold, it would be welcome, if for no other reason than he African content so seldomly catches a break when it comes to public health.

The scientific community continues to express dismay about the Russian announcement that they have approved a COVID-19 vaccine. It comes down to politics, not science, they say. Per the Associated Press, “the claim underscored how, like the space race, the competition to have the first vaccine is about international rivalries as well as science. The first nation to develop a way to defeat the novel coronavirus will achieve a kind of moonshot victory and the global status that goes along with it.” Mass vaccination with a subpar vaccine will do untold damage.

Follow the money, right? That’s the key to getting the whole story, especially when it comes to business and politics. STAT investigated political donations by pharmaceutical companies during the pandemic. “As the Covid-19 pandemic has sparked a race among drug makers eager to develop a vaccine and improve the industry’s standing in Washington — pharma’s giving underscores the breadth of its influence and its efforts to curry favor through lobbying and donations to the lawmakers who regulate health care.” Read for yourself and make up your own mind what matters.

Finally, some nice news out of Germany about saving elephants. Per DW, “Thailand’s work elephants often lead a miserable existence. Animal welfare activist Lek Chailert has set up a sanctuary for rescued elephants in northern Thailand. There the animals can enjoy their retirement.” Proof that people can do good, even without be promoted.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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