Scientists and health experts are launching a nationwide campaign to counter misinformation about COVID-19 and related vaccines.
The #ScienceUpFirst initiative is an awareness and engagement campaign that will use social media to debunk incorrect information and boost science-based content.
The campaign team says in a news release that it emerged from conversations between Nova Scotia Sen. Stan Kutcher and Timothy Caulfield, Canadian research chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta.
The initiative is now being led by the Canadian Association of Science Centres, COVID-19 Resources Canada, and the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta.
Anyone interested in participating can follow @scienceupfirst and use the #ScienceUpFirst hashtag on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and tag the account to amplify science-based posts and alert it to misinformation posts.
The campaign says there is a marked rise in misinformation and conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 vaccines, virus transmission and government response, and it represents a threat to the health and safety of Canadians.
"Misinformation is a dire, imminent threat to the lives of all Canadians and is proven to be one of the factors fueling COVID-19 infections, and dissuading Canadians from getting vaccinated," says Caulfield.
"The #ScienceUpFirst initiative seeks to help fill an urgent need to beat back misinformation with the truth, and save lives."