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Misinformation in the COVID-19 era
  1. Gabor Toth1,
  2. Alejandro M Spiotta2,
  3. Joshua A Hirsch3,
  4. David Fiorella4
  1. 1 Cerebrovascular Center, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
  2. 2 Department of Neurosurgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
  3. 3 NeuroEndovascular Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4 Department of Neurosurgery, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gabor Toth, Cerebrovascular Center, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA; tothg{at}

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The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on humankind that is remarkable for a disease in modern times. As of late June 2020, almost 500 000 people have died of the disease worldwide, including more than 120 000 in the USA, with estimates of infected individuals approaching 10 million.1 The numbers of infected and deceased patients will continue to rise.

In these times of considerable uncertainty, with no cure or vaccine in sight, patients and physicians rely on the free flow of information to understand and fight this deadly disease. The internet and social media have spawned an era of digital globalization where observations, reports and research on COVID-19 can readily be distributed across the world very quickly. Within just a few months in the first half of 2020, publications and information related to COVID-19 have exponentially increased. It has quickly become clear that COVID-19 not only affects the respiratory system as initially thought, but can alter hemostasis, endothelial function, and can damage the heart and the central nervous system.2–4

Unfortunately, with the rapid dissemination of valuable information often comes misinformation. There has been an understandable urge to publish groundbreaking and novel data. However, this also opens the door to multiple potential pitfalls. In order to keep up with the ‘surge’ of COVID-related submissions, many peer reviewed journals offered expedited reviews and in some cases brought noteworthy submissions to print without subjecting them to a …

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  • Twitter @GaborTothMD, @JoshuaAHirsch

  • Contributors All authors contributed to the writing of this manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.