COVID-19 and the importance of scientific credibility in decreasing the number of cases

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Joao Lucas de Paiva Paulino, a first year medical student at the State University of Rio Grande do Norte (UERN, in the acronym in Portuguese) in Mossoró in Brazil. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


COVID-19 became a major health concern worldwide in 2020 when the World Health Organization (WHO) decreed the pandemic of a respiratory syndrome caused by the Sars-CoV-2 virus. As a result, even in that year, several authorities in many countries adopted measures to slow the spread of the disease while researchers tried to understand its functioning and wanted a vaccine for immunizing people, which was completed at the end of the same year. However, even though the vaccine from several laboratories has proved to be efficient, the cases of Coronavirus continue to be alarming in 2021 and certain countries call attention due to the high number of infected people, showing that what was learned throughout 2020 is not being applied.

In the foreground, it is important to highlight that scientific negationism is one of the main allies of the Coronavirus in the places where it has the highest number of victims. From this perspective, it is clear that the discredit of science has been increasing in recent years, especially among more conservative portion of the population and people with less access to education. Thus, this makes that the preventive measures applied against COVID-19 have a low adherence on the part of individuals, which is extended to the vaccine, since there are people who strongly assert that it is not safe for application. As a consequence of this, all the efforts invested by scientists to better understand the disease have not been effective in slowing its progress, given the new wave of cases around the world.

On the other hand, it should be noted that the way in which certain governments have addressed the treatment and prevention of COVID-19 also shows that what was learned in 2020 is not being put into practice. In this bias, when the effects of the closing of trade began to be felt by the governing classes due to measures of social isolation, they were soon loosened, demonstrating a preference for the economy at the expense of the health of the populations. As a result, making people return to the streets and to their jobs early caused an even greater problem in the future, considering that greater circulation implies a greater number of infected people. As a consequence of this, several countries had to re-apply restrictive measures to try to stop the advance of the Coronavirus and sacrificed, in addition to citizens’ lives, their economies together.

Therefore, it is clear that what has been learned throughout 2020 is not being widely applied to fight Sars-CoV-2 and would be necessary, to reduce the problem, governmental actions that would, at first glance, seek greater adhesion of the population to individual protection measures. However, this would be possible only with a greater appreciation of scientific thinking and education of the population on the subject, with accessible scientific dissemination being essential. Thus, it is clear that advances in science are of little value if they are not accessible and widely adopted by the population and government.

References

MOREL, Ana Paula Massadar. Negationism of the COVID-19 and popular health education: to beyond the necropolitics. Trab. educ. saúde [online]. 2021, vol.19, e00315147.  Epub Jan 11, 2021. ISSN 1981-7746.  https://doi.org/10.1590/1981-7746-sol00315.

About the author

Joao Lucas de Paiva Paulino is a first year medical student at the State University of Rio Grande do Norte (UERN, in the acronym in Portuguese) in Mossoró in Brazil. Since 2020, he is a member of IFMSA Brazil UERN and director of its Scientific Research Center. He believes that scientific knowledge is fundamental for the development of Medicine and that its dissemination in a simple and didactic way can help to save and transform lives in the most diverse ways.

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