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SG/SM/20270
23 September 2020

Spotlighting ‘Communications Emergency’, Secretary-General Vows Fight against COVID-19 Misinformation at World Health Organization Event

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the World Health Organization (WHO) event on “Infodemic Management:  Promoting healthy behaviours in the time of COVID-19 and mitigating the harm from misinformation and disinformation”, held today:

I send my warmest greetings to this important event on mitigating the harm done to people by misinformation and disinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 is not just a public health emergency — it is a communications emergency, too.  As soon as the virus spread across the globe, inaccurate and even dangerous messages proliferated wildly over social media, leaving people confused, misled and ill-advised.  The antidote lies in making sure that science-backed facts and health guidance circulate even faster, and reach people wherever they access information.

This will be especially critical as we work to build public confidence in the safety and efficacy of future COVID-19 vaccines.  We need a “people’s vaccine” that is affordable and available to all.

Our United Nations initiative, called “Verified”, is fighting misinformation with truth.  Working with media partners, individuals, influencers and social media platforms, the content we spread promotes science, offers solutions and inspires solidarity.  Only together in solidarity, with a well-informed public, will we emerge from this pandemic safe and better.

For information media. Not an official record.