YouTube has been a popular source of information and entertainment during the pandemic of Corona virus.

There were more misleading and dis-informative videos about corona virus on YouTube than that of informative ones.

By Muhammad Hamza Khan

A lot of research studies have been conducted on the role of YouTube videos in the pandemic of corona virus. The researchers have studied in detail how YouTube channels have been creating content for common people in order to guide them how to fight against this pandemic and how to stay calm during quarantine process.

In her research Priyanka Khatri with other companions (2020) states that the current 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak is rapidly evolving. YouTube has been recognized as a popular source of information in previous disease outbreaks. We analyzed the content on YouTube about n-CoV in English and Mandarin languages. YouTube was searched using the terms ‘2019 novel coronavirus’, ‘Wuhan virus’ and ‘武汉病毒’ (Mandarin for Wuhan virus) on 1st and 2nd February 2020. First 50 videos in each group were analyzed. Videos in other languages, duplicate videos, those without an audio and duration >15 min were excluded .72 videos in English and 42 in Mandarin were reviewed. 2 reviewers classified the videos as useful, misleading or news based on pre specified criterion. Inter-observer agreement was evaluated with kappa coefficient. Modified DISCERN index for reliability and medical information and content index (MICI) score were used for content analysis. These videos attracted cumulative 21,288,856 views. 67% of English and 50% Mandarin videos had useful information. The viewership of misleading Mandarin videos was higher than the useful ones. World Health Organization accounted for only 4% of useful videos. Mean DISCERN score for reliability was 3.12/5 and 3.25/5 for English and Mandarin videos respectively. Mean cumulative MICI score of useful videos was low (6.71/25 for English and 6.28/25 for Mandarin). YouTube viewership during 2019 n-CoV outbreak is higher than previous outbreaks. The medical content of videos is suboptimal International health agencies are underrepresented. Given its popularity, YouTube should be considered as important platform for information dissemination.

Another research study, (Nahema Marchal, Hubert Au, Philip N. Howard, 2020) says that Social media is reshaping how people access information about the coronavirus crisis. The online video-sharing website YouTube has emerged as a major purveyor of health and wellbeing information. In this memo, we examine the nature and structural properties of a sample of 320 YouTube videos related to the coronavirus outbreak. We find that:

  • four-fifths of the channels sharing coronavirus news and information are maintained by professional news outlets and that the channels of public health agencies are rarely, if ever, returned with search results;
  • searches for popular coronavirus-related terms return mostly factual and neutral video results, with low volumes of conspiratorial or junk science video results;
  • highly politicized health news and information receives on average more public engagement in the form of comments than any other type of videos.

According to a study, (Corey H Basch, 2020) Accurate information and guidance about personal behaviors that can reduce exposure to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 are among the most important elements in mitigating the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). With over 2 billion users, YouTube is a media channel that millions turn to when seeking information. At the time of this study, there were no published studies investigating the content of YouTube videos related to COVID-19. This study aims to address this gap in the current knowledge. The 100 most widely viewed YouTube videos uploaded throughout the month of January 2020 were reviewed and the content covered was described. Collectively, these videos were viewed over 125 million times. Less than one-third of the videos covered any of the seven key prevention behaviors listed on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. These results represent an important missed opportunity for disease prevention.

Another study, (Omer Atac, Yunus Ozalp, 2020) states YouTube is an important online source of information. And its viewing numbers tend to increase exponentially in extraordinary situations. Our aim in this study was to evaluate the contents of the most frequently viewed YouTube videos during the COVID-19 pandemic. Method: In this study, contents of the most frequently viewed Turkish and English videos regarding COVID-19 pandemics are examined and scored with modified DISCERN, MICI and VPI. Results: The mean DISCERN score of Turkish videos is similar to English videos (2.55 and 2.43 respectively). Total MICI score tends to be higher in Turkish videos. 86.9% of all 168 videos and 65.2% of all 23 misleading videos were released by news channels. Average view counts, view ratios, and VPIs of misleading videos are higher than the useful videos. Conclusions: Since there is not a peer-review system on YouTube, it is very important for the content of videos that are released through news channels to be accurate because the important messages can be spread among people in society through them. Especially some Turkish videos included many different rumors and faulty statements. During the extraordinary situations such as the pandemics, the videos of official health authorities and international institutions should be more visible in YouTube. Keywords: SARS-CoV-2, DISCERN, MICI, Video Power Index.


After going through all of the above research studies, we can conclude that:

  • YouTube has been a popular source of information and entertainment during the pandemic of Corona virus.
  • YouTube has not played a role of informative platform in the pandemic of corona virus. Rather, there was more misleading and dis-informative content instead of informative content
  • Medical and health related authorities are inactive on YouTube.


  • Government should contact the leading YouTubers in order to guide citizens in fighting against a pandemic.
  • There should be some policy for YouTube channels. YouTube channels which do not follow that policy should be banned.
  • Health related authorities should make their own content on YouTube and guide people in the right way.


This report is written and published by a student of  Institute of

Communication Studies, University of the Punjab,


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