Twitter is a great way to get the most up-to-date information on COVID-19. I follow epidemiologists, virologists, health reporters and others—and I always learn something when I check my feed each morning. But there are also a lot of people out there who may look like experts and may even think they are experts, but they’re not reliable sources. Fortunately there are a few twitter lists to help you find the right people.
There’s far too much fake expert advice out there
I’m not going to name names, but there have been quite a few viral (sorry) tweets about COVID-19 that contained incorrect information, or inappropriate statements of opinion. In fact, not an hour ago, a political scientist incorrectly tweeted that the World Health Organisation had “formally declared” coronavirus a pandemic. I saw the tweet when it was eight minutes old, and it already had 849 retweets and over a thousand likes. And I was, at that very moment, listening to the World Health Organisation’s press conference in which they were explaining why they were not yet ready to declare it a pandemic. The tweet has since been deleted.
This coronavirus is a new virus, and scientists are still learning about it. If somebody is an expert in health related topics, but is not specifically up to date on this virus and the way it spreads, they may pass around bad information. I’ve seen people who should know better—doctors, scientists—sharing information that turns out to be untrue or misleading. I’ve seen people from random influencers to blue check M.D.’s sharing myths about hand sanitizer, about the significance of the epidemiological number called R0, and about nutritional strategies for avoiding coronavirus (there aren’t any).
Try these twitter lists
I’m happy to report that some of my favourite and most trustworthy twitter sources have been collected onto a few lists. These people include scientists, doctors, and health journalists, and they have all made a point to be well informed, up to date, and appropriately sceptical about new information. I want to give each one of them a hug any time they say “We’ve heard a news report that says X, but the significance of that will depend on what we learn about Y and Z.”
Here are three lists I’ve found (with some overlapping members) that all seem to be pretty good:
I can’t vouch for every person and every tweet on these lists, but from what I can tell these are three good sources of information, their members much better informed than your average timeline of miscellaneous folks you already follow. Make sure to also stop by the World Health Organisation’s twitter account, where they host Q&As and post video of their usually daily press conferences.