We Cannot Let This Happen Again!
Mary C. Vrtis, Ph.D., MSN, RN, OCN, NEA-BC, FCN
The authors have gone to great lengths to use primary resources, when at all possible. Whenever it was necessary to use secondary sources, such as news media reports, extensive fact checking was conducted to assure accuracy of the information. We used fact-checking websites, and/ or compared the information available from multiple, reliable investigative reporting sources. When possible, we listened to the original electronic media recordings to confirm the accuracy of statements documented in secondary sources. We verified the authenticity of direct quotes given at press briefings using archived written and electronic media. In general, we provided hyperlinks for references cited.
In reference to widely disseminated conspiracy theories, we were able to find many of the original source posts, tweets, and videos that started the conspiracy. We did NOT provide hyperlinks that could lead to further crowdsourced dissemination of an unfounded conspiracy theory or damaging misinformation.
We conducted numerous PubMed and Google Scholar searches during this research and every attempt was made to stay objective, factual, and non-political. However, lives were lost as a direct result of serious mistakes, inaccurate statements, accidental misinformation, deliberate disinformation campaigns, and political discord. It is impossible to learn from this situation without thoroughly reviewing the facts.
We do not wish to ascribe blame to individuals, failures in a situation as bad as this did not occur because of a single individual.
In most cases of conspiracy theories, the financially and/ or politically motivated falsehoods were initiated by a single individual or bot farm. The disinformation was then amplified through retweets, “likes,” and forwards via social media, automated bots, and individual conspiracy believers. In well-documented cases, we did name names.
It was not possible to assess the quality and accuracy of research studies that were on “pre-publication websites.” Though some of these were interesting, we did not cite them. Peer review by experts in the subject matter prior to acceptance by a journal does not guarantee a quality publication. However, the peer review process, which involves content review by experts in the field, usually weeds out the junk science. But not always.
We do wish to thank the mainstream medical and nursing journal companies who provided research papers related to COVID-19 as open access/ free access. It would not have been possible to deep dive as we did without the free access.