Science during the pandemic - Grzegorzewski Simon
Before I started working in experimental medicine, I had no experience with basic research and how the results can be processed and published. I learned how to work with numbers and information. During the time, I began to write my thesis, the corona pandemic began and enormous research efforts were employed towards COVID-19. It was the first time that I noticed the growing interest of general public in actual scientific research and clinical facts.
Even in Germany (i.e. naturally in a pleasant position compared to other nations), scientists began to make podcasts and took part in government narratives and press conferences in order to communicate scientific facts upon the pandemic. And most people trusted and relied on these representations.
Nevertheless, during the last year the scenario changed, substantially. Also populist and unfounded opinions were spread at random. They used references to scientific studies, which were often worse quoted. Some of them even expressed opinions without any reliable refence or fundamental facts. Despite this is not a specific problem of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, here it turned out to be obvious and transparent to most of us.
For me, the situation has shown that most people like to receive and even trust scientific information, but one of the most important things is how it is presented.
The presentation of science outside of the professional world must be done in a simple and comprehensible way, so that it can be understood by anyone. Nonetheless, one of the most crucial point is that such information must be verifiable. That’s certainly different to allegations or laying down laws on others.
A principal problem in communicating scientific findings to public is the medium, because it is very unlikely that millions of people start reading scientific journal articles. In order to reach a huge population, mass media are required. On the other hand, it is important for press to have interesting and distinctive headlines, which are often limited to available space – so content is often shown in abbreviated form and thereby, are misinterpreted by non-experts.
In my opinion, the perspective of scientific research has changed significantly during the pandemic. It became more visible and closer to common people. This is an opportunity for scientific professions and studies to enter the state of higher demand. As science represents the development and the future of a society, it is necessary to recruit motivated, honest and clever people. In parallel, it should also be a starting point, where more supports and resources should be available to scientific work. It is often assessed, how much it costs and how much it earns in return – BUT most scientific research is unable to provide immediate financial return and in my opinion, that shouldn’t be a criterion for science either.
As many people as possible should have easy access to basic facts and those should also be verifiable. If science does this, much more will be achieved. Discussions could be more objective, and populist opinions would have less room. Nevertheless, it should be possible and desirable to question results at any time. Ultimately, decisions that affect people’s health should be based on scientific facts and not on economic or political interests.
Simon Grzegorzewski is 25 years old and lives in Rostock, Germany. He was born and raised near Berlin. After school, he studied medicine at the Baltic Sea Area (Rostock), which was successfully completed during last November. He has started working at the Surgery department of Bad Doberan Hospital. He was introduced to experimental science during the final year of clinical study. He worked with a team of interdisciplinary scientists on bone metabolism and ageing. Here, he conducted patient recruitment and clinical measurements. Presently, he is writing a M.D. thesis on his research outcome. Besides profession, he loves playing drums.