Meet the Experts Debunking COVID-19 Myths and Vaccine Misinformation on TikTok
How health professionals are using their large platforms to set people straight
As the pandemic rages on, misinformation and disinformation surrounding COVID-19, vaccines and alleged cures for the virus are as prominent as ever. Despite the countless harrowing stories of unvaccinated people succumbing to the disease, anti-vax rhetoric and misleading coronavirus claims continue to plague social platforms like Reddit, TikTok and Facebook, who are are failing to curb the spread of bad information.
On TikTok, for example, videos of users foolishily promoting Ivermectin, a horse deworming medication, as a COVID cure are circulating the platform according to Rolling Stone. The videos feature creators touting the drug, which can be super toxic to humans, as an effective treatment, with some even posting tutorials on how to use it. Hashtags #ivermectin4covid and #ivermectinworks amassed over a million views collectively before TikTok removed them, but as we know with situations like this, the damage is likely done.
Clearly, it’s been exceedingly difficult for these social platforms to control the lies and rumors their addictive algorithms helped create, so (legitimate) health experts and epidemiologists are doing it for them. It’s likely you’ve seen a TikTok or Instagram video of a health professional adroitly take down someone spewing complete nonsense about the vaccine, or comprehensively clear up swirling hearsay about it causing fertility issues or that inhaling hydrogen peroxide is a COVID cure.
Experts have been dispelling false claims across various platforms since the start of the pandemic, but as misinformation and disinformation continue to flourish — only becoming increasingly absurd, dangerous and difficult to spot — epidemiologists and health experts are working overtime, particularly on TikTok, to combat COVID-19 myths and vaccine misinformation overflowing on social media. So below are a few health professionals using their expertise and platforms for good (we know, what a concept!). Give ’em a follow or send them to your anti-vax cousin.
Dr. Tracy Ruscetti, a retired college professor in Microbiology and Immunology, has gone viral a few times for her expert takedowns of anti-vaxxers, dispelling the self-assured bullshit coming out of their mouths in realtime. Good luck pulling one over on her.
The ceaseless influx of information surrounding the virus is overwhelming. As the Delta variant surges across the country, even those fully vaccinated have questions about vaccine effectiveness. An epidemiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. Katrine Wallace, is helping users understand booster shots, breakthrough cases and how safe it is for vaccinated individuals to go to the gym at the moment. She’s also had to explain that the vaccine isn’t population control.
Savannah Sparks is a Mississippi-based pharmacist and lactation consultant who has been using her TikTok account, which has amassed 429K followers, to debunk nearly every lie you can think of surrounding COVID-19, including why masks are effective and why you shouldn’t make your own hydroxychloroquine at home (in case that one wasn’t obvious). Unfortunately, Sparks, along with her friends, family and even neighbors, has been a victim of harassment and threats because of her account, according to Business Insider.
Dr. Siyab is a heart doctor keeping his 239K followers up to date on COVID news, and he hasn’t minced words when discussing the issue of healthcare workers refusing the vaccine. He’s also highlighted the side effects of taking Ivermectin and the links between the virus and pregnancy.
The comment section on TikToks can be … a lot, but @christinaaaaaaanp, an oncology nurse practitioner, masterfully answers questions and addresses misguided statements surrounding COVID-19 and the vaccine. You can catch her on TikTok or on Instagram where she has nearly 34K followers.
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