The Decline of Science In the Pandemic

Early in the pandemic there was a widespread belief that science would be our salvation. With the help of science we would be spared the worst consequences, such as occurred during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. A vaccine would arrive, reliably, after a few hard months of research, and in short order the problem would then be essentially solved, and we could all resume our previous lives with a strengthened faith in the power of science to solve our problems and improve our lives. New therapies, like hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir, and others would ease the course of the disease for those who did get infected. And we had no doubt about the reliability of tests to identify people who had the disease or who had had the disease and were now possessed with immunity.

Of course it didn’t work out that way. Science didn’t save the day.

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  1. K S Parthasarathy says

    Dear Dr Husten,
    I forwarded your interesting article to facebook. A senior scientist Dr T S Raman commented thus on your article:
    “The title is misleading. It ought to have been “The Decline of Belief in Science In the Pandemic”. The wrong expectation was that Science could perform miracles. Or, at the very least, it was an unreasonable demand on Science.” I aree with him. Any comments?

    With best regards
    K S Parthasarathy Ph.D.

  2. From my British perspective I’d split the problem in two.

    (i) Our government was frightened out of its wits by a mathematical modeller who was a charlatan This is hard to pardon because the bloke had a lengthy record of gross over-prediction of casualties in earlier epidemics.

    (ii) Our government found that you can’t ask questions of science, only of a panel of scientists, which is a plain different thing. They turned out to have interests and agendas of their own – people, eh? They ignored the economic and social costs of a severe lockdown, which is perhaps understandable. But less pardonably they seemed also to take no heed of the medical consequences of the lockdown. Inexcusably the politicians seemed incapable of treating their pronouncements with any critical thought.

    Oh well, one thing I learnt – virology is a pretty backward science compared to bacteriology.

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