GENEVA, Switzerland — The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization says governments that provide “politically motivated” information about the coronavirus pandemic could face a political backlash.
Dr. Michael Ryan said Monday that “trying to present oversimplified, simplistic solutions for people is not a long-term strategy that wins.” He told reporters in Geneva that “transparency, consistency, honesty” and admitting errors can build trust.
Ryan was speaking in general terms after being asked about conflicting messages sent by the Brazilian government over its COVID-19 response.
Ryan says coronavirus-related messages sometimes come with “political overtones” and he alluded to a saying that trust takes years to build but seconds to lose.
He says: “If communities perceive that they’re getting information that is being politically manipulated or that it has been managed in a way that is distorting evidence, then unfortunately that comes back to roost.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
The United States has more than 6.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University.
Just after 12:30 p.m. EDT Monday, the U.S. had more than 188,000 deaths from the virus. Worldwide, there are more than 27 million confirmed cases with nearly 900,000 deaths.