The Coronavirus and the Media

Toronto calls in the superheroes to help with vaccinating young children against COVID-19, but the children turn out to be very ill. The good news is that they eventually recover, even while their parents are forced to stay home because they are deemed to be too ill even to work

On Sunday afternoon, I was in Toronto to attend a meeting of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Responsible Application of Health (CARAH). (CARAH, the group has since changed to CARAT, and CARAH Toronto is now called CAIRH). As we sat round in a hotel conference room taking in the news, I was struck by the contrast between this meeting and the press coverage I could see from my hotel room window.

Some newspapers in my home town of Toronto have been running stories reporting that Toronto is under siege by a dangerous and highly contagious virus, but not a single newspaper has been reporting that the virus that is causing the problem is one of the most commonly spread. The mainstream media has treated it the way it has treated the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. They have not covered the issue honestly and forthrightly, and they have played up the tragedy of an outbreak with a luridness that is shocking because such a massive story is rarely told.

The Toronto Star recently ran a story on the coronavirus, but in the story there is not even a mention of the fact that it is a SARS-like virus, and not coronavirus, and that there are no known cases in Canada. The Globe and Mail similarly covered the virus but failed to mention that it was a SARS-like virus, and that the first case of human infection was in Italy. I asked the Globe editor if I was allowed to use a photo from Italy to illustrate my story, and she said no.

The article I was reading said that there had been 4 cases in Canada, all of which were mild and of “influenza-like” illnesses, the sort of thing that might be picked up by anyone who has visited a friend with flu-like symptoms. Not really believable, I thought

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