A new study published Tuesday accused many doctors of spreading COVID-19 misinformation on social media, despite the claims that are referred to as misinformation being heavily contested.
The study, which was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association and funded through internal support at the University of Massachusetts, studied online posts by doctors which the researchers claimed spread “misinformation,” such as skepticism about the effectiveness of mask use and claims concerning the idea that COVID-19 originated in a lab and was funded, according to the study. The study advocated for “ethical and legal guidelines for propagation of misinformation” in order to prevent harm that could be caused by physicians who spread misinformation. (RELATED: American Students Are Now Absent At Record Rates After Missing Months Of Classroom Instruction During The Pandemic)
“This misinformation category included conspiracy theories related to domestic and foreign governments and pharmaceutical companies,” the study reads. Included as types of misinformation were claims that “the virus originated in a laboratory in China, which contradicted scientific evidence at the time,” and that “the virus was part of a National Institutes of Health–funded study, was leaked, and that the leak was covered up by government and public health officials.”
The study was conducted from January 2021 to December 2022, and studied misinformation that was believed to not be true at the time.
52 American physicians actively spread Covid-19 misinformation to millions of people on social media about vaccines, masks, and conspiracies.
One third of the more than 1,100,000 Covid-19-related deaths as of January 18 2023 were preventable if public… pic.twitter.com/AZIeZXcqqS
— Dr. Jonathan N. Stea (@jonathanstea) August 15, 2023
The nonprofit organization EcoHealth Alliance, a group that gave $600,000 in funding to the Chinese Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) that conducted gain-of-function research on bat-based coronaviruses, received $8 million in grants between 2014 and 2021 from the NIH.
In a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation, an EcoHealth Alliance spokesperson disputed that the research performed at WIV was, in fact, gain-of-function research, arguing that it does not meet the National Institutes of Health’s definition of gain-of-function research. However, multiple scientists have agreed that the research met the common definition of gain-of-function research, while the American Society for Microbiology’s defines “gain-of-function” techniques as anything that would “alter the function of an organism in such a way that it is able to do more than it used to do.”
In July, an official from the Department of Health and Human Services suspended the access of government programs to WIV following concerns that the lab was the origin of COVID-19 following gain-of-function research that took place.
In a classified intelligence report in Feb. 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy concluded that the COVID-19 virus likely originated from a Chinese laboratory.
“Many physicians focused on negative consequences related to children and mask mandates in schools, claiming that masks interfered with social development despite a lack of evidence and that requiring children to wear masks was a form of child abuse,” the study included in its criteria of misinformation.
In a poll of parents from Politico and Harvard, 46% believed that wearing masks hurts their child’s social learning and interactions, 45% said it did not make a difference and only 9% said it helps.
A study from 2021 found that kids may be harmed by wearing a mask due to the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the mask, which reached more than six times the legal 2000 ppm limit of carbon dioxide in a room. In another paper, of nearly 26,000 German children, 68% of them were found to experience adverse effects while wearing a mask.
Sarah Goff, corresponding author of the study, did not immediately respond to a request to comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include comments from EcoHealth Alliance.
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