COVID-19 Research: Fact, Fiction or Something In-Between

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a seemingly endless supply of studies, articles, advice and other information available on the internet. Whether you want to know if the COVID-19 vaccine is safe or what COVID-19 vaccine myths have been debunked, a quick search online will yield tons of results – but not all of them are sources you should be trusting for accurate, reliable information about COVID-19 and the Coronavirus. 

If you’re wondering how to tell the difference between the myths and facts of COVID-19, we have some tips to help you understand how to do your own COVID-19 research.

Can you do your own COVID research?

The short answer is yes, but you want to make sure you’re doing so responsibly. It’s challenging to know who and what to believe, which has led to the spread of misinformation, even among those with good intentions. Even in cases where accurate data is being shared, it could be misinterpreted. In other instances, information is completely fabricated. 

For proof of this, look no further than these common myths about the COVID-19 vaccine. From whether or not children should get the vaccine to herd immunity and side effects, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there.

Of course, with a few best practices in mind, you can still accurately evaluate COVID-19 information online.

Quick tips

These sources are a good place to start for COVID-19 studies and information you can trust:

  • Look for studies in reputable outlets, like those indexed in PubMed, published in medical journals, or those that have undergone scientific peer review.
  • Some studies in Google Scholar undergo peer review, but watch out for any that are designated as “preprint.” Often, this means it has not undergone peer review yet or been accepted by a reputable scientific journal. 
  • Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, but always double check that the site you’re visiting ends with the .gov extension.
  • Mayo Clinic, among other academic medical centers.
  • American Medical Association, Infectious Diseases Society of America or other medical professional societies.

Things to look out for

As you’re reviewing information, there are some common pitfalls you’ll want to look out for. Some of them include: 

  • Medical experts whose background or specialty is either not relevant to infectious diseases or not endorsed by a reputable medical center or legitimate medical society. Ideal sources will include professionals in the infectious disease, pulmonary and/or critical care specialties.
  • Opinions, reactions, or interpretations of medical studies on social media. Often, these accounts are biased, and research is collected to support an individual’s personal beliefs or agenda. 
  • Any sources that point to alternative solutions like supplements, home remedies or vitamins as a solution to COVID-19 that haven’t been supported by reputable medical journals. Any highly effective, proven treatments will be represented by scientific studies and then shared by sources like the CDC or reputable medical organizations.

Evaluating health-related websites

When you come across a piece of information and you’re not sure whether to believe it, see if you’re able to corroborate the information with the CDC website or a local public health department. You can also check with your own doctor to see if they have additional information or resources they can share. 

And before you share, always type the claim into a search engine to see if it’s verified by reliable sources or scan the website’s About page to ensure they’re a credible outlet. When in doubt, refrain from sharing the information just in case.

With the constant influx of information about COVID-19, it’s easy for anyone to get confused. By working together to make sure we only share information that’s verified by credible sources, we can do our part to stop the spread of misinformation regarding COVID-19 and the Coronavirus.

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