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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Public figures should not use their influence to spread COVID-19 misinformation

Trust doctors, not celebrities

With the rapid rise of social media over the years, the connection between fans and people with a platform has only strengthened. Having a way to interact with their favorite artist, athlete or actor has linked these fans with celebrities in ways that are new to our generation. There are occasions where that has turned out to be a positive thing, but amid COVID-19, some people have done more harm than good.

Whether it is Joe Rogan claiming he used the horse dewormer Ivermectin to treat COVID-19, rapper Nicki Minaj claiming her cousin’s friend had a terrible side effect to the vaccine (which was later debunked by the Trinidad and Tobago Health Minister) or NBA star Kyrie Irving refusing to get the vaccination and liking social media conspiracy posts about a secret society putting microchips in the vaccine, many influential individuals have made and backed dangerous claims. These celebrities have a large following, and their comments and false claims put a lot of people at risk. 

The truth is, being a celebrity and someone of this stature comes with a responsibility. Whether celebrities ask for this or not, they have platforms that can reach thousands and sometimes millions of people. When it comes to celebrities and athletes, some can have more influence on people than certain politicians, and using it irresponsibly could affect the lives of many people. 

While we understand hesitancy about a new vaccine, sharing misinformation and disinformation is not an appropriate use of a platform when over 686,000 people in the U.S. have lost their lives in the pandemic. The research is there, and it points to the vaccine protecting people from COVID-19 as well as reducing the risk of spreading it. 

With only 56% of the U.S. population being fully vaccinated, the outspokenness of anti-vaccine celebrities and athletes is not what we need at this moment. The misconceptions about COVID-19 can be answered, and if celebrities claim they need to do more research, they shouldn’t be publicly discussing the COVID-19 vaccine at all. Publicizing personal vaccine concerns based on misinformation puts celebrities in a position to affect other people’s decisions, which jeopardizes public safety. 

As expressed by Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, “The [basketball players] who claim ‘the bloggers who’ve never picked up a basketball’ are out of line for criticizing them are now doing the same tactic with science, except it truly is life or death.”

And it’s true. While taking skincare advice from celebrities is probably okay, when it comes to COVID-19, it’s a matter of life or death. Look to medical professionals when making health decisions. 

Written by: The Editorial Board

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