May 6, 2021

When an Epidemic Looms, Gagging Scientists Is a Terrible Idea

 President Xi Jinping of China epidemic during an inspection of the Chaoyang District’s disease control and prevention center in Beijing this month.
President Xi Jinping of China during an inspection of the Chaoyang District’s disease control and prevention center in Beijing this month.Credit…Liu Bin/Xinhua, via Associated Press

In an epidemic

In an epidemic, suppression of bad news costs lives and eventually angers the public. The White House is in danger of repeating the error.

Many times in many countries, political leaders have tried to censor health officials and play down the risks of infection just as epidemics approached.

This strategy has almost never worked, historians and former health officials said. And ultimately, if there are more deaths than leaders blithely predict, it destroys the reputations of the leaders themselves.

This week’s efforts to reorganize the Trump administration’s chaotic response to the coronavirus outbreak risk falling into that pattern. The White House will coordinate all messaging, the public was told, and scientists in government employ will not be popping up on television talk shows, saying whatever they think. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/28/health/coronavirus-pence-messaging.html

That may not be a winning strategy, experts warned. The stock market reacts to rumors, and the Federal Reserve Bank may succumb to political pressure. But pathogens, like hurricanes and tsunamis, are immune to spin.

Live cases: https://covid-19.no/2020/02/28/coronavirus-live-streaming-news/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *