COVID-19 killed our trust in science (real science, that is). How do we resurrect it now?
Our long pandemic nightmare is almost over.
Thanks to the swelling community immunity from the unfortunate number of COVID-19 infections, and the fortunate numbers of those vaccinated, the case numbers here in Arizona and nationwide have plummeted, and hospitalizations and deaths have dropped to levels not seen since the beginning.
We’re essentially out of the emergency, but the virus is still here. How best to act in the post-pandemic?
The past 18 months have been a struggle for us physically, mentally, economically and sociologically. While we were “all in this together,” in many ways we’ve never been farther apart. We have seemingly been forced into different camps, often times mask-shaming or vax-shaming each other.
In order to make it out the back end of this, we need buckets of patience, compassion and courage.
How our ideology on masks bent the science
The concept of science has been misused and abused since we first heard of this novel coronavirus.
Science is not owned by any one political side, and it is not a talking point to cheer or scoff. Science is the careful study of the natural world, asking questions about why things are the way they are, testing hypotheses and sharing results to add to our collective knowledge – and sometimes correcting our previous “knowledge.”
Science is not just a discrete set of immutable facts; it is a continuum of learning.
When using science to inform policy, we need to remember the Mark Twain-ism: “It’s not what we don’t know, it’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”
For example, depending on ideology, masks were either useless and “only for controlling us,” or masks were just as important as vaccines and “you are endangering the species by not wearing one all the time.”
Neither are true.
Masks only provided limited protection, but they did provide some level of protection.
And here’s a gut-punch for many of us who have pushed the importance of masks – most COVID-19 patients actually followed mask recommendations.
Vaccines are a COVID-19 miracle to celebrate
Yes, the vaccines came out too soon for our comfort … and thank goodness for that!
These vaccines – developed, manufactured and initially distributed under Operation Warp Speed and now fully saturating the U.S. landscape under the current administration – are both the miracle and the scientific achievement we needed and deserved.Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.
Sure, they came out faster than any other vaccines in history, but the technology behind them had been in development for years and they have now been “tested” on more than 1 billion people.
We have seen almost no serious side effects actually caused by the cutting-edge novel mRNA vaccines (with the notable exception of anaphylaxis in a very small population of hypersensitive allergy patients).
On the other hand, the vaccines turn this monster virus into the common cold, at worst, for almost everybody. A vaccinated person is now at much greater risk just driving to a party than actually being at a party.
Let us celebrate this amazing achievement. Consider your vaccine card a license to party!
Have the courage to use your knowledge
But how do we resurrect trust in science as we move into the post-pandemic world?
Science should be used as neither a punchline nor a weapon. Rather, as Louis Pasteur would remind us, it should be used to understand the world and to illuminate the best way for us to serve humanity.
For example, we all still need to take COVID-19 seriously, since the virus in its many variant forms is still hanging around, and may be a permanent resident.
The best solution is to get vaccinated – the illumination from all the data tells us this.
But if you won’t, then know your risks and take care of yourself. You are our brothers and our sisters, and we still want you to enjoy the post-pandemic with the rest of us.