In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the coronavirus, an “infodemic” is spreading, as described by the World Health Organization (WHO). The overabundance of information, some false or incomplete, about the virus, about its origin and effects, as well as the measures taken by the authorities to combat the pandemic, reduce people’s chances of finding reliable information about COVID-19 and the advice they need.
What is the best method to inform ourselves in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic?
COVID-19 is a condition caused by a virus that belongs to the class of coronaviruses. Being a medical condition, it goes without saying that the most reliable information must come from health professionals.
Nowadays, medicine has reached a high degree of development and continues to develop. That is why there are many medical specialties which, in turn, are divided into subspecialties. Not every doctor can give all the concrete and detailed information about a potentially lethal infectious disease, such as COVID-19.
Who can give us reliable information about COVID-19?
Being an infectious and contagious disease, it is best to seek information from infectious disease specialists. They are best able to answer questions about the possible evolution of the infection and about possible medical treatments.
Also, because this virus has generated a pandemic and is characterized by quick and easy community spread, the information provided by epidemiologists is the most relevant when it comes to details on transmissibility and the ways we can reduce its transmission.
Family doctors, who sometimes have patients with infectious diseases and who are more accessible than other specialists, can also provide information about this disease. Family physicians, however, can give general information about this condition, information they get from medical sources and from infectious disease specialists.
If we are talking about the evolution of a critical patient, who reaches the Intensive Care Unit, then the most able to provide information on the patient’s progress and treatments to support vital functions are the intensive care physicians.
This virus has an impact on all organs because, by affecting the lungs and the blood oxygen levels, indirectly all organs suffer. Thus, the diseases that exist before the COVID-19 infection can be exacerbated. The changes produced on each affected organ can be discussed with the attending physician, the one who has a record of the patient for the underlying disease.
For the latest information and guidance on the COVID-19 pandemic, the list of official websites of national authorities and public health agencies in Europe can be found on the website of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/covid-19/external-resources.
In conclusion, the most accurate and up-to-date information must come from specialty doctors, from those who deal with this type of disease directly, not from people without medical training in the field and even less from websites and internet pages that do not have a clear scientific or institutional affiliation.
Professor Leonard Azamfirei, PhD is a primary care physician and ICU anesthesiologist, MD–PhD, rector of the “George Emil Palade” University of Medicine, Pharmacy, Science and Technology, in Târgu Mureș Romania.