The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars that has been working, since 1972, on the advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for our colleagues all over the world.
At this time of great international effort on the containment of COVID-19, we are concerned with the politicization of the response to the pandemic that is taking place in a number of countries, including the United States.
Threats and censorship experienced by scientists and medical doctors at the inception of COVID-19 in China in December 2019 contributed to the disease becoming a world-wide pandemic.
Suppression of the data on COVID-19 in Iran has led to its exponential spread in the country.
In the United States the news on COVID-19 that comes from politicians and polarized media is often driven by political narratives rather than science. Misleading statements by government officials involving the use of face masks, as well as other measures designed to contain the infection, have been based on political considerations.
In Egypt, health professionals who sounded the alarm about the inadequate response to COVID-19 have been arrested. In Russia, medical doctors who criticized government response to the pandemic have been threatened with arrest and imprisonment. In Brazil, scientists who opposed the views of the president have been harassed on social media.
Politically motivated harassment is destructive to the state of mind of a scientist. It impedes one’s ability to conduct successful research. This delays finding a cure against COVID-19 and prolongs the suffering of the population affected by it.
We would like to call upon world leaders, governors, heads of scientific institutions, editors of science journals, news outlets and social media to support a free, unbiased exchange of information generated by honest scientific research based on the accumulation of data.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists