Summary

The United States accounts for over 20% of global deaths related to COVID-19 despite only having 4% of the world’s population. This unacceptable reality is in part due to the tsunami of misinformation surrounding COVID-19 that has flooded our nation. Misinformation not only decreases current compliance with best practices for containing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19, but will also feed directly into resistance against future administration of a vaccine or additional public-health measures.

The next administration should establish an office at the Department of Health and Human Services dedicated to combating COVID-19 misinformation. This office should lead a coordinated effort that:

  1. Ensures that evidence-based findings are at the core of COVID-19 response strategies.
  2. Utilizes data science and behavioral analytics to detect and counter COVID-19 misinformation.
  3. Works with social-media companies to remove misinformation from online platforms.
  4. Partners with online influencers to promote credible information about COVID-19.
  5. Encourages two-way conversations between public-health officials and the general public.
  6. Ensures that public-health communications are supported by on-the-ground action.