HealthDay News – In a research letter published online March 20 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, important misconceptions about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) among the general public in the United States and United Kingdom are presented.

Pascal Geldsetzer, MBChB, ScD, MPH, from Stanford University in California, examined knowledge and perceptions about COVID-19 in a cross-sectional survey involving a convenience sample of 3000 participants residing in the United States and 3000 residing in the United Kingdom. The questionnaire was completed by 2986 and 2988 residents in the United States and United Kingdom, respectively.

Geldsetzer found that overall, participants had good knowledge of the main mode of disease transmission and common symptoms. However, several important misconceptions were identified on how to prevent COVID-19 acquisition, including belief in falsehoods that are circulating on social media; 37.8 and 29.7% of the US and UK cohorts, respectively, believed that consistently wearing a face mask is highly effective for prevention of infection. Intent to discriminate against individuals of East Asian ethnicity was expressed by a substantial proportion of participants for fear of acquiring COVID-19.

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“In conclusion, the general public in the United States and United Kingdom appears to have important misconceptions about COVID-19,” Geldsetzer writes. “Correcting these misconceptions should be targeted in information campaigns organized by government agencies, information provision by clinicians to their patients, and media coverage.”

Abstract/Full Text