As healthcare teams across the globe race to vaccinate the population, communicating what we know and when we know it, has never been more crucial than during the Covid-19 pandemic. Tackling some of the misinformation that can be spread by anti-vaxxer narratives is no mean feat. Social media sites, forums and translation providers all have their part to play in this. Here, our experts discuss why Covid-19 multilingual communication matters…

Tackling Coronavirus fake news

Fake news has been increasingly spread during the Coronavirus pandemic. From myths about the effectiveness of the now approved vaccine to fake theories about how the pandemic is a ruse to reduce the population, misinformed narratives have spread like wildfire. When you consider the global nature of the pandemic, the ease with which dangerous narratives can spread worldwide is of increasing concern.

There has been much talk of social networking sites enhancing their checks on fake or misleading news. While other areas of the internet are often harder to police, they can more easily be counteracted with information from reputable sources.

Effective Covid-19 multilingual communication strategy

As with the work in tackling the Coronavirus pandemic, mounting an effective response to harmful antivaxxer messages requires a coordinated, global approach. As with other Covid-19 translations covering safety information and restrictions, it is important that the facts about vaccines are circulated from public health bodies such as the NHS and its global counterparts. Information needs to be translated quickly and updated in a timely fashion. The approach must also be uniform – messaging across continents has to be consistent.

In healthcare, there is no room for ambiguity. Messaging that is in any way confusing or contains industry-specific terminology may result in audiences becoming mistrusting or disengaged. One of the challenges faced by the healthcare sector is exactly to gain trust and explain the science. While different countries may, for example, count COVID-19 cases and deaths differently, the data on vaccines must be presented in a clear way to avoid discrepancies that can be exploited when presenting alternative points of view.

Inclusive healthcare communications

Information about Covid-19 also needs to be inclusive. It should be easy to access via a variety of mediums. It is crucial that information reaches people of different socio-economic backgrounds, includes those with limited online access, and covers a range of age groups, ethnicities, and abilities.

It is also important to consider people’s differing values and priorities. While most of the world is experiencing the pandemic, different people have been faced with different challenges. Some may have had a mild form of the virus or not caught it at all but may instead have been impacted indirectly by the loss of their job. This may lead them to view public health and government attitudes to the pandemic differently. In this instance, a more personalised healthcare communication approach may be required which can generate its own challenges.

Interestingly, a study has shown that there appears to be no direct correlation between socio-economic status or education level in those who believed in anti-vaxxer theories. Instead, personality traits have been deemed to be a common denominator including those who do not like life restrictions such as lockdowns or having to live in restrictive tiers. Covid-19 multilingual communications should consider how best to relate to the issues being experienced by those groups in order to effectively enter the narrative. This may vary from culture to culture, but consistent messaging in Covid-19 multilingual communication remains a priority.

Building trust in healthcare communications

Trust is the lynchpin to successful buy-in with multilingual healthcare communications. Underpinning this is accurate, concise and clear translations. Medical and governmental errors have a huge impact on the lives of civilians, but also impact on trust in credible theories and science. Building trust can lessen anxiety around treatments and vaccines and, in turn, increase uptake. It is important to note that gaining buy-in to receiving vaccines globally could also be influenced by how well other countries are deemed to be doing in controlling the spread of the virus. It is therefore critical for health bodies, governments and news outlets to report responsibly and accurately. The language used is key, along with how that is made appropriate for differing cultures and languages around the world.

To find out more about healthcare or Covid-19 multilingual communications or for trusted healthcare translations, please contact our language experts.