With over 100,000 cases globally attributable to the Cornavirus over the last few months, the worlds attention has turned to trying to figure out exactly what it is and where it came from.
The economic impact alone is enough to worry the most wealthy nations and the ridiculous pressures on an already strained NHS. This has the UK government working frantically to try contain the spread of the virus.
Since the outset, there has been a wave of misinformation posted online about the Coronavirus, leading to panic in the general public.
So what can Pharmacists and their teams do to calm the public?
How can we help to challenge the misinformation campaigns online?
1. Know what Coronavirus is and why people are afraid.
2. Know what your team can do
1. Know what Coronavirus is and why people are afraid
Coronavirus is the name given to a group of respiratory infections which can range from mild illness such as the common cold, to lethal conditions such are SARS, MERS, and the current Covid-19. People are afraid because they do not know much about Covid-19. The symptoms are largely the same as the common cold, and currently, the only way we know how to confirm a diagnosis of Covid-19 infection is through a swab test, followed by self-isolation. Scientists are still working out the finer details of the virus and what is making it spread so fast. A vaccine will not be ready for at least twelve months. Coupled with the online misinformation campaign, people have started stockpiling foods and medicines, hand sanitizers have gone out stock, and people are generally panicking. However, in reality, at the moment, the global Covid-19 mortality rate is 3.4%. For context, the influenza mortality rate is closer to 1%. So yes, whilst it is more deadly than influenza, the majority of people who will have trouble overcoming this are those who are over 60 years old, with other co-morbidities including asthma and diabetes. For anyone else, at the moment, there is no reason why they wouldnt recover.
2. Know what your team can do
The most important thing pharmacists and their teams can do, is challenge misinformation. Inform patients of the right information, from the right sources.
Encourage them to look at sources other than the media or social media outlets. Particularly the World Health Organisation, or NHS websites. It’s really important that people put the Covid-19 outbreak into context. At the time of writing, the UK had 216 cases, out of a population of 63 million people. Thats a grand total of 0.000342857%. The graphs below show the spread of the virus in much more detail (and are updated several times a day – so keep checking). Whilst the virus isn’t posing a massive threat right now, it is important to strike a balance – dont make people panic, but at the same time encourage basic hygeine to try stop it spreading – things like frequent hand washing, avoiding shaking hands, and following the advice of the ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ campaign. Have hand sanitizer freely available at the counter, give patients information leaflets to read, have posters in the pharmacy to raise awareness, and maybe most important of all, educate yourself on Covid-19. Remember, pharmacists stand at the vanguard of our NHS and healthcare system We’re all responsible for making the patient our primary concern and challenging misinformation.
If you want to know more, check out these websites (yes, this counts as a CPD entry):