Science communication in times of the COVID-19 crisis | Modis

Science communication in times of the COVID-19 crisis

Estelle Willems Posted 10 November 2020

Since the Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic emerged, the need for clear and accurate science communication is growing stronger than ever. Science communication helps put public interests at the center of priorities.

Communication plays a key role at each step of medical development, such as technical, regulatory, scientific, and peer-reviewed publication writing. In addition to knowledge sharing, science communication helps the general public to better understand and respond to health concerns and follow official recommendations, such as social distancing and lockdown.

In this age of misinformation, false narratives and “fake” news also travel faster and are consumed in a higher rate by the general public. The COVID-19 pandemic produced an overwhelming amount of data drawn from sources of varying reliability, occasionally following different political and social agendas. This phenomenon, also called “infodemic”, leads to the spread of confusing findings. High quality scientific messages are needed to help decision making and response to the emergency lag.

Faced with health and economic concerns, scientists are more eager than ever to fulfill their moral and scientific obligations by communicating the correct and solid scientific findings. This includes acknowledging the uncertainty of some scientific aspects to help preventing false conclusions.

Although new forms of nationalism emerged in the vaccine race, the trend toward interdisciplinary and international communication is stronger than ever before. New open-access platforms boosted international exchanges but also added potential sources of unreliable information, highlighting the need for more efficient fact-checking processes.

To end on a positive note, as necessity is the mother of innovation, these challenging times have provided an opportunity to emphasize the importance of quickly inventing or adopting new ways of communicating for the benefit of the public’s mental and physical health.

Estelle Willems
Scientific Writer Life Sciences

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