Infodemics, Superhype, Privacy, and more…

FSM Friends’ News and Articles

Pseudoscience and COVID-19 — we’ve had enough already: “This explosion of misinformation — or, as the World Health Organization has called it, the “infodemic” — has triggered an army of fact-checkers and debunkers. Regulators have taken aggressive steps to hold marketers of unproven therapies to account.” 


Superfoods or Superhype? During this Covid-19 lockdown period, we are encouraged to “boost our immune system” through the consumption of superfoods. Superfoods, while not bad for you, are not necessarily the Holy Grail of nutrition either. From the article: “Superfoods are often nutritious but it’s clear that the term is more useful for driving sales than it is for providing optimal nutrition recommendations. A downside of superfoods is that the title alone may cause people to focus on a few specific foods, blinding them to other equally nutritious options that aren’t as hyped. Variety in our diet is important not only to gain the benefit of eating a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals, but also to prevent one from eating too much (or too little) of a particular nutrient. It also keeps our meals interesting and flavorful!”

Can you really boost your immune system? The usual rule of thumb applies here: if the title of an article is in the form of a question, the answer is usually ‘No’. “Until there is a vaccine, no amount of vitamins can boost your immune system and protect against COVID-19.”

No evidence to support intravenous high-dose vitamin C in the management of COVID-19: “The TGA is aware of a report that intravenous high-dose vitamin C may be beneficial in the management of a COVID-19 infection. We have investigated this report and found there is no robust scientific evidence to support the usage of this vitamin in the management of COVID-19.”

Worried about your drinking during lockdown? These signs might indicate that your drinking may be a problem:

  • Not keeping up responsibilities;
  • Concern from others;
  • Drinking to cope;
  • Poorer mental health;
  • Aggression and violence;
  • Building tolerance (requiring more and more to feel the same); andUnintended consequences (eg drinking more than intended).

Pete Evans’ company fined for alleged COVID-19 advertising breaches: “The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has issued two infringement notices to Peter Evans Chef Pty Ltd (the Company) totalling $25,200 for alleged breaches of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act). Mr Evans is the sole Director/Secretary of the Company.” Can’t stop, won’t stop?

Great Moments in Health and Science 

All about HIV testing: An important part of starting early treatment if necessary and keeping yourself and others safe is to be tested.

Today’s Abused Health Concept

Privacy Fears. COVID Safe app downloaded more than a million times and lives up to its privacy promise:  “People downloading freemium games but being worried about an app designed to suppress a pandemic is akin to worrying about a gluten free diet while smoking a pack a day.” There have been voices vehement opposed to the roll out of an voluntary app design to automate the important work of pandemic contact tracing. On hand some people fear that the software is imperfect. This is of a nirvana fallacy. Very few things are perfect and it is important not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. However, even if all security fears are met, voices will still decry the effort because they distrust the government. In reaction legislation is being amended to the biosecurity act, ensuring that CovidSafe data cannot be used without consent, or for law enforcement “or ANY secondary purpose” with a 5 year jail term for breeches of this trust.

Even so, voices STILL decry the idea of “normalising surveillance” even if all privacy concern. Notably all these fears are expressed in isolation, without discussion of risk/benefit threshold, and without comparison to other normal online behaviour. Ironically they post these fears to Facebook. Even the most damning technical assessment of the app noted that concerns were dependant on treating the “central authority as an adversary”. If that is your attitude during the pandemic, then you are likely to oppose all government actions, not just a tracing App. The takeaway message should be that the app “#covidsafe app is above board, very transparent and follows industry standards,” Robbins tweeted.”