On July 14, 2021, Bill Spadea, a popular talk-radio host on New Jersey station 101.5, shared with his listeners the news that the emergent Delta variant of Covid-19 wasn’t deadly. Two months later, Fox TV host Tucker Carlson broadcast the similarly encouraging news that, if you’d already gotten Covid, you wouldn’t need to be vaccinated. The problem with these upbeat stories was that they were blatantly incorrect, as was a barrage of apparent bad news about the pandemic, including reports that Covid vaccines could cause sterility, that each jab implanted an activity-tracking microchip, and that the vaccines themselves could transmit Covid.

Since the emergence of Covid in late 2019, misinformation about the virus has spread as widely and as rapidly as the virus itself, as has disinformation, which is defined as deliberately misleading information. Both have been rife throughout the pandemic, making it a challenge for public health officials to get their messages across, amplifying an already existing distrust of public health institutions (especially among minorities), and leading to preventable illness and death on a significant scale. If, as the expression goes, truth is the first casualty of war, it also appears to be among the earliest casualties of a pandemic. To read the full story.