Do us a favor

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Science  13 Mar 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6483, pp. 1169
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb6502

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  • RE: Do us a favor

    Public messaging on COVID-19 should be clear and easy to understand by ordinary people

    The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading rapidly across the globe, and it is dominating the 24-hour news cycle. The constant coverage by cable television (TV) with different perspectives presented by news anchors and their guests may be doing more public harm than good when it comes to educating audiences to make informed decisions that will benefit public health and save lives. As stated in Science’s Editorial by H. Holden Thorp, developing a vaccine will take more than a year (1). There is no clinical treatment for the virus at this time (2). There has been tremendous publicity paid to shortage of diagnostics kits for identifying infected people. We are now well past that time point when diagnostic testing is of primary importance. As there is no treatment, all those testing positive for the virus are advised to self-quarantine at home and not go to a hospital emergency room (HER), unless a person has life-threatening, severe respiratory symptoms. This makes practical sense because not everyone testing positive to the virus (assuming the test has a high negative and positive predictive value, which we do not know yet for most tests) will develop severe disease manifestation. The HER is currently a scare resource that must be used efficiently.

    We need evidence-based, simple, and easy-to-understand messages to come from our government leaders, public health expert...

    Show More
    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Respecting facts (and history)

    H. Holden Thorp gets it exactly right. There has been more than enough distortion of historic events, claiming one thing (just a bad cold or that traumatic brain damage is "just a headache") and then denying saying it. The absence of sufficient courage and candor to admit past mistakes is disheartening although sadly not unexpected.

    There is also the importance of understanding how science in general, and targeted science-based therapies are developed and then how their safety and efficacy are demonstrated. Perhaps reminders of past errors (thalidomide comes to mind) are useful - rushing drugs/vaccines to the public can be counter-productive.

    We live in an age of growing acceptance of misinformation and ideologically-inspired distortions on both extremes of the political spectrum. There is a failure to "own up" to the implications of "off the cuff" comments - witness the impact on Americans of Asian descent of referring to Sars-CoV-2 as the "Chinese Virus".

    Hopefully more sober voices can be above the noise, while at the same time the actual record of government action remains in clear view.

    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Do us a favor

    In all fairness to Mr. Trump, a basic vaccine could be produced in a matter of weeks that would be reasonably safe and have a reasonable expectation of efficacy. The multi-year time lines are primarily a result of regulatory restrictions and not fundamental scientific principles. To be sure, there are reasons for the delay - no regulatory agency wants to release a product that could potentially cause harm or be useless. But the underlying question - as with any medical intervention - should be a weighing between the benefit of the vaccine vs the potential harm due to the accelerated licensing. That discussion is not taking place.

    Competing Interests: I am engaged in the research, development and manufacturing of vaccines.
  • RE:
    • Michael Joseph Jay, Professor, Pharmacoengneering & Molecular Pharmaceutics, University of North Carolina

    It was very disappointing to read Holden Thorp’s recent editorial (‘Do us a favor’). His editorial could have been much more positive by encouraging the president to support the sciences to a greater degree due to the importance of science to society. Instead, his editorial was condescending in tone. It was certainly not inclusive of those with diverse viewpoints such as those Science readers who do not share Dr. Thorp’s politics. Speaking of diversity and inclusion, when it was announced that Dr. Thorp was named as the editor of Science, he was quoted as saying that he ‘tried to use the unfair advantages that accrue to white men to develop and promote the work of women and people of color and get them into the spotlight’. It appears that the spotlight does not include being named editor of Science. The chair of the search committee stated that Dr. Thorpe ‘really appreciates the importance of celebrating diversity and inclusion in all that he does’. Let Dr. Thorpe show some real leadership and not just celebrate diversity, but put his own privilege aside in favor of one of the 500 candidates, which included women and members of minority groups, replace him as editor? It appears that it is good enough to celebrate diversity and inclusion as long as you don’t have to apply it to yourself, but have it applied to other white males, many of whom did not have privileged upbringings.

    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Do me a favor

    Dear Science Magazine,
    I was sorry to see this negative, sarcastic, political OpEd article on the ScienceMag website. For me, this brings in to question your editorial motivations and makes me wonder what other non-scientific biases are shaping the content and tone of the content you present. Please stick to articles that are objective and science based.

    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: "Do us a favor"

    Perhaps Mr. Thorp's TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) is showing. As a physician of 40 years experience with an MPH degree, I see no attempt by the Trump administration to muzzle the NIH and CDC. Having those agencies let Vice President Pence know what they will say publicly before they say it (so that there is consistency of messaging to the public) is not the same as the administration somehow censoring those agencies, which is what Mr. Thorp is implying without presenting any evidence. If Mr. Thorp thinks that President Trump and his administration are doing a poor job of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, how would he rate the performance of the leaders of France, Germany, Spain, and Italy, which collectively have a COVID-19 infection rate 18.4 times that of the US?

    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Do Us a Favor article

    I did not appreciate receiving this Do Us a Favor Article. The article was petty, uncouth, aggressive, and displayed behavior we teach our children not to engage in. When you react this way you are just as bad as anyone you accuse of wrong doing. The article was biased, a characteristic that is unacceptable in science. In addition, the article was offensive and Science Mag should not be supporting such arguments, such partisan opinion pieces are not what Science is about. Report on Science, not your opinion of the president's behavior. This article was an opinion piece on the President of the United States that had attitude and displayed disrespect. Science should not publish such articles. The article also displayed an extremely limited point of view and perspective. I would like to voice that I would not like to see an article like this again from Science Mag. It has greatly lowered my opinion of the publication.

    Competing Interests: None declared.

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