Surgeon General Warns Misinformation An 'Urgent Threat' to Public Health

Surgeon General Warns Misinformation An 'Urgent Threat' to Public Health

07/16/2021

Photo: Getty Images

ABCNews.go.com

Dr. Vivek Murthy's advisory -- the first under the Biden administration -- addresses an epidemic of misinformation and disinformation, and its pernicious impact on public health -- specifically threatening the U.S. response to COVID-19. It frames misinformation as having hindered vaccination efforts, sown mistrust, caused people to reject public health measures, use unproven treatments, prolonged the pandemic, and put lives at risk.

"Surgeon general advisories are reserved for urgent public health threats," Murthy said, highlighting his message in the White House briefing room Thursday. "And while those threats have often been related to what we eat, drink and smoke, today, we live in a world where misinformation poses an imminent and insidious threat to our nation's health."

He continued, "While it often appears innocuous on social media apps on retail sites or search engines -- the truth is that misinformation takes away our freedom to make informed decisions about our health and the health of our loved ones. Simply put, health misinformation has cost us lives.”

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