Monday, November 29, 2021

The new book shows how misinformation and mistrust have exacerbated the US pandemic.

Judy Woodruff:

As we reported, the United States has passed the next tragic milestone of the pandemic. Three quarters of a million Americans have died from COVID-19.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta focuses in part on what we could have done differently.

Here is the second part of my conversation with him about his book World War C: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next.

Welcome to News Hour. Thank you for joining us.

You spent a few hours last month talking to talk show host Joe Rogan as part of his podcast, essentially trying to change your mind, to explain to people what a vaccine is.

You came from this with a better understanding of why people have such resistance, how ingrained are these views?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, author of World War C: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next: Well, I better understand that this is very real skepticism.

I think sometimes you think that, look, logic will prevail, don’t you? I mean, this is a life-saving vaccine. It was a lunar burst of scientific advances. This should win in the end.

But you come to the conclusion that there is a significant amount of resistance, reluctance, indecision, whatever you call it.

Two things did come out of my conversation with Joe Rogan.

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First, as we democratize information more and more, it is really difficult for people to distinguish good information from bad information, and good information from misinformation. And there is real misinformation, that is, purposeful misinformation. And the average opinion is really difficult to make out something.

If you were just Googling something right now, “vaccines can kill you,” if you just Googled it, you would find several articles and many websites that seem to support your beliefs.

What will we do in the future, especially in situations like this when the quality and accuracy of information really matters?

Second, who do we trust, and why has confidence in pharmaceutical companies, mainstream media and large organizations in general been eroded? And as a result, when you suddenly say – you get these vaccine demands that come up, there is a significant rebuff, because there is already this mistrust that festers from the very beginning.

These two things combined, Judy, can create a very, very toxic environment for people who are trying to cope with it. That’s not all, and maybe not even most people, but there are enough people who have distrust, fueled by bad information, to lead them to these decisions.

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