Support for the Public Health Professionals of China Combatting COVID-19
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Following the events around the emergence of COVID-19 in China, international scientists have been dismayed by the spreading of rumors, misinformation and conspiracy theories on the virus’ origins. These rumors are now specifically targeting scientists and health professionals who have been working extremely hard to fight this outbreak and have shared data with unprecedented speed, openness, and transparency. Some of these scientists have already received threats of violence to their families and themselves. These rumors and conspiracy theories threaten to undermine the very global collaborations that are vital to combat this disease that has already spread across continents, and for that reason have been condemned by many, including repeatedly by the WHO Director-General, and the Director of The Wellcome Trust.
A group of 27 public health scientists from 8 countries have signed an “open letter” in the Lancet to support scientists, public health and medical professionals of China fighting the outbreak of COVID-19 and to roundly condemn conspiracy theories surrounding it. These scientists include Sir Jeremy Farrar OBE, Jim Hughes (former Asst. Surgeon General, former Head of CDC NCID, Rear Admiral US Public Health Service Rtd.), Rita Colwell (former Head of the US National Science Foundation), multiple members of the US National Academy of Medicine, Prof. Sai Kit Lam (Member of Malaysian Academy of Medicine who co-discovered Nipah virus), John Mackenzie (Officer of the Order of Australia, member of WHO GOARN Steering Committee), Dr. Jerry Keusch (former Head of NIH Fogarty International Center), and other leaders in the field of infectious disease research and public health.
Their goals in publishing this open letter are to reach as wide an audience as possible at this critical juncture of the COVID-19 outbreak, so that unfounded rumors may be quashed, and a message of encouragement and solidarity will be read by colleagues in China who are working hard to fight the outbreak as well as by the leaders at governmental agencies in China, USA, and around the world that might otherwise give credence to misinformation and conspiracy theories.
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