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COVID-19 / Meedan’s Health Desk scientists featured in the Harvard Public Health Review
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Meedan’s Health Desk officially launched on June 6, 2020. In celebration of our first anniversary, our team is thrilled to share the publication of our first peer-reviewed paper that highlights the project, its purpose, and experiences from the first seven months of the pilot.

“We are so excited to be able to showcase the work that goes into making Health Desk possible and the scientists that power this service for newsrooms and fact-checking organizations. Begninning as a small, ambiguous project during a global crisis and shaping into what it’s become today is all a testament to the care that our writers put into explaining these difficult topics,” said Megan Marrelli, Health Desk lead.

The world knows a lot more about COVID-19 than we did when the pandemic began. However, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge scientists, healthcare workers, journalists and global citizens. In addition to fighting the virus, public health and medical professionals continue to combat misinformation, midinformation, and disinformation.

False, incorrect, twisted, and misapplied information remains ever-present, especially on social media and messaging platforms. Our partner journalists and fact-checkers endorse the Health Desk expert team, and articulate that access to our scientists has facilitated their work on complex topics. As we begin year two the Health Desk team looks forward to continuing to support journalists and fact-checkers, forging new partnerships, developing new tools, and expanding our reach.

The abstract from the article, titled Mobilizing public health professionals to support journalists and fact-checkers during the COVID-19 pandemic is below:

“The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an infodemic- a flood of epidemic-related information- that encompasses a plethora of misinformation that has arisen from rapidly evolving science, uncertainty, information gaps, and special interests. The misinfodemic- epidemic of misinformation, midinformation, and disinformation- has largely kept pace with the pandemic and continues to proliferate across online media and communication channels. The potential risks and dangers of misinformation are well documented in the literature and include adverse health effects like increased disease spread, hospitalization, and death; stigmatization of individuals and groups; increased health inequities; and distrust in government and public health guidance. The goal of the COVID-19 Expert Database was to employ the skills of public health professionals to provide an added layer of expertise for journalists, fact-checking organizations, and media outlets to improve health-reporting capacity, provide accessible COVID-19-related content, and distill complex scientific findings to support local and contextually-relevant communications. Launched in June 2020, the project was designed as an applied research initiative aimed at strengthening the quality of COVID-19-related health information and decreasing circulating misinformation to advance health equity.”

The full article is available on harvardpublichealthreview.org.

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