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COVID-19 information in news media: room for greater transparency
  1. Anisa Rowhani-Farid,
  2. Kyungwan Hong
  1. Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anisa Rowhani-Farid, Pharmaceutical Health Services Research, University of Maryland Baltimore, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA; arowhani{at}

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Access to accurate scientific information is of paramount importance, particularly amid a global pandemic. We access scientific information through various platforms, including social media, news outlets (print and video), Twitter, magazines, peer-reviewed journal articles and more recently, through preprints. However, following some high-profile retractions of influential COVID-19 scientific articles, there is much mistrust and confusion around what news is accurate.1 In situations like this, there is an even higher premium on ensuring that the data underlying scientific findings are publicly accessible. Thus, news outlets that continuously deliver COVID-19 related scientific information to the public should be held to similar standards as scientific journal articles, that is, to share anonymised datasets they are curating and reporting in their news articles.

One such place where underlying data are needed is the data on ‘excess mortality’, which has dominated the COVID-19 pandemic news cycle for months. ‘Excess mortality’ or ‘excess deaths’2 refers to the number of deaths above expected levels, regardless of the reported cause of death, and it …

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  • Contributors Both authors coauthored the letter and both collected relevant data for the letter.

  • Funding The Laura and John Arnold Foundation funds the RIAT Support Centre (no grant number), which supports the salaries of Anisa Rowhani-Farid and Kyungwan Hong. Kyungwan Hong's project was supported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award U01FD005946 totaling US$5,000 with 100 per cent funded by FDA/HHS.

  • Disclaimer The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by FDA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.