Coronavirus (1068) Policymakers and health misinformation (36) BMJ: politicisation, “corruption,” and suppression of science

14 November, 2020

Below are the citation and extracts of a new editorial in The BMJ.

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CITATION: Editorial. Covid-19: politicisation, “corruption,” and suppression of science

BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4425 (Published 13 November 2020)

When good science is suppressed by the medical-political complex, people die

Politicians and governments are suppressing science. They do so in the public interest, they say, to accelerate availability of diagnostics and treatments. They do so to support innovation, to bring products to market at unprecedented speed. Both of these reasons are partly plausible; the greatest deceptions are founded in a grain of truth. But the underlying behaviour is troubling.

Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency — a time when it is even more important to safeguard science.

The UK’s pandemic response provides at least four examples of suppression of science or scientists...

How might science be safeguarded in these exceptional times? The first step is full disclosure of competing interests from government, politicians, scientific advisers, and appointees, such as the heads of test and trace, diagnostic test procurement, and vaccine delivery. The next step is full transparency about decision making systems, processes, and knowing who is accountable for what...

And, as the powerful become more successful, richer, and further intoxicated with power, the inconvenient truths of science are suppressed. When good science is suppressed, people die.

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Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator, neil@hifa.org www.hifa.org