International Survey of Coronavirus News

Since early 2020, news and media have played an especially important role in providing ongoing information about the coronavirus pandemic. News reporters and journalists have done their best to provide credible, trustworthy, and data-driven information which people have been able to use to protect themselves, their families, and communities. Conversely, there has been a severe amount of mis- and disinformation and misleading narratives primarily from online platforms and prominent politicians. As a result, trust in news and social media has significantly declined, leaving many confused. Ignorance and a lack of understanding has created a danger to public health.

Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford has recently published An Ongoing Infodemic: How People in Eight Countries Access and Rate News and Information about Coronavirus a Year into the Pandemic. This report surveys data from eight countries (Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Spain, the UK, and the US) to document how people understand and access COVID-19-related news. Among the eight countries are the hardest-hit (Argentina, Brazil, Spain, the UK, and the US).  The YouGov survey found that news organizations remain the single most widely-used source of information, and scientists, doctors, national health authorities, and global health authorities are broadly trusted. In terms of platforms, social media is associated with the largest public concern, with 30% on average seeing ‘a great deal’ of false information surrounding coronavirus.

Belief in misinformation surrounding coronavirus vaccines, however, is encouragingly low across all countries. False claims such as the vaccine being able to alter one’s DNA, and causing cancer and infertility has been debunked by official sources, with scientific evidence that all approved vaccines are safe. Most surveyed say they are confident in their knowledge of vaccine safety and efficacy.

“While there are real and worrying problems with misinformation around coronavirus, including false or misleading claims about vaccines that put both individual and public health at risk, we, encouragingly, find that in most countries the vast majority of our survey respondents do not believe any of the false claims we include in the survey. Many will have come across at least some misinformation, but few actually believe it.”

Survey data from this report does not intend to fully map the scale of misinformation and misleading narratives, but rather to help us understand how the public views these problems.


For more information, check out Featured Topic on Disinformation, and articles on HSDL related to COVID-19 Misinformation. Please note an HSDL login is required to view some of these resources.

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