BEIJING, April 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- A news report by China.org.cn on Nature's apology and science politicization:
Leading science journal Nature recently issued an editorial titled "Stop the coronavirus stigma now," apologizing for previously associating COVID-19 with Wuhan and China. The article was also posted on Nature's social media accounts, including its Chinese ones.
The editorial said, "For years, it was common for viral diseases to be associated with the landscapes, places or regions where the first outbreaks occurred … But in 2015, the WHO introduced guidelines to stop this practice and thereby reduce stigma and negative impacts such as fear or anger directed towards those regions or their people."
Nature is not the only journal that has appealed for people to stop stigma related to COVID-19. In February, medical journal The Lancet published an article jointly written by 16 scholars in global health law. It stated, "Under no circumstances should public health or foreign policy decisions be based on the racism and xenophobia that are now being directed at Chinese people and those of Asian descent."
However, some politicians are sticking with the outdated script, blaming China for the virus, and even replacing the words "COVID-19" with "Chinese virus" in speech notes. Some U.S. politicians have even repeatedly preached the conspiracy theory that the virus is a Chinese bioweapon.
In fact, such rhetoric had already been overturned by scientists. Virologist Robert Garry from Tulane University said the virus is not made in a laboratory, rather, it's a product of the nature.
The consequences of vicious slander are obvious to all. There has been no scientific conclusion on the origin of the virus, but Chinese and other Asian people are suffering from discrimination, humiliation, and even violence in many countries. The number of COVID-19 cases recorded worldwide has now exceeded 2.4 million. Discrimination and hatred incited by stigma contribute nothing to containing the virus. What's more, when such hatred spreads to other fields, it will take a heavy toll on the haters themselves.
Nature has pointed out the damage stigma has on academic and scientific research, that is: it undermines diversity and international academic mobility – and finally causes "a loss for all." The fight against COVID-19 requires solidarity. The recovery and development of the global economy and other areas after the pandemic also demand international exchanges and collaboration. Stigma will do nothing but intensify hatred and confrontation, thereby impeding global development.
Naming a virus is essentially a matter of science. The politicization of science will only increase tension and leave the situation worse off. Certainly, competition takes place in various fields among countries and it is understandable for countries to speak up for their own interests. However, certain groups manipulate science in order to pursue political gain and influence public opinion, in defiance of science, facts, social norms and principles. Such ill-intended behavior must be condemned and resisted.
Nature's apology shows the journal has realized the harm of stigma and wants to uphold the scientific spirit. It deserves endorsement. Scientific issues should be addressed through science, and political comments must be based on facts. Faced with the pandemic, all humanity should stand up against stigma, and join hands to create a future of health, peace and prosperity.
Nature magazine apologizes: Stop manipulating science for political gain