The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the world of science. On one hand, it has spurred renewed research activity in the field of health and medicine, with increased investment by public and private sectors alike, leading to the development of new treatments and the generation of large quantities of data, enabling epidemiological studies on a scale rarely seen before.
On the other hand, the pandemic has drawn attention to the role of scientists and research in modern society, highlighting their uneasy relationship with politicians, traditional and digital media and the wider public. The enormous scientific progress made since the start of the pandemic has been overshadowed, and in some cases compromised, by the failure to properly communicate the results of scientific research to the citizens and the failure of governments to make the best use of those results in terms of adopting the right policies. The result is that the standing of scientists in society has been undermined, with governments pursuing populist notions of “freedom” (in opposition to calls for lockdowns by public health experts), while social media platforms enable the propagation of fake cures, conspiracy theories and vilification of individual scientists. The solution lies in the depoliticisation of science, which needs to be properly funded while respecting the principle of freedom of scientific endeavour, such freedom being at the heart of traditional liberal ethical values. This approach is best pursued on a European level, as exemplified by the work of the European Research Council.
Pandemic Period, Scientific Data, Scientific Medicine, Health Policies, Depoliticization of Science