Webinar hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) in collaboration with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in South Africa, on 22 October 2021.
According to the World Health Organisation (2020), an infodemic is an overabundance of information, both offline and online. This also includes deliberate attempts to disseminate wrong information to undermine public health response efforts and advance alternative agendas of groups or individuals. Misinformation as well as disinformation, that is the use of false information intently to mislead, can pose threats to people’s physical and mental health, facilitate stigmatisation, and lead to countries’ inefficiency in curbing the spread of the pandemic (World Health Organisation, 2020). As such, evidence-informed scientific information has a crucial role in ensuring the reputability as well as reliability of the news circulated about the pandemic.
It is against this background that the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), in collaboration with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in South Africa hosted an Embassy Lecture on Debunking Myths and Misconceptions about COVID-19: South Africa and China Scientific Perspectives. The webinar aimed to catalyse conversation around the myths and misconceptions around the infodemic that has emerged in the pandemic. This includes, but is not limited to, tracing the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Facilitator: Prof Helen Rees, Executive Director, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) RHI & ASSAf Member
Opening and Welcome remarks
Mr Daan du Toit, Deputy Director-General, Department of Science and Innovation
Prof Himla Soodyall, Executive Officer, Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
Minister LI Zhigang, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in South Africa
Prof Salim Abdool Karim, Director, Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), ASSAf Member
Prof George F Gao, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Prof Helen Rees