Let’s do better: public representations of COVID-19 science

Timothy Caulfield, Tania Bubela, Jonathan Kimmelman, Vardit Ravitsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


COVID science is being both done and circulated at a furious pace. While it is inspiring to see the research community responding so vigorously to the pandemic crisis, all this activity has also created a churning sea of bad data, conflicting results, and exaggerated headlines. With representations of science becoming increasingly polarized, twisted, and hyped, there is growing concern that the relevant science is being represented to the public in a manner that may cause confusion, inappropriate expectations, and the erosion of public trust. Here we explore some of the key issues associated with the representations of science in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these issues are not new. But the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a spotlight on the biomedical research process and amplified the adverse ramifications of poor public communication. We need to do better. As such, we conclude with 10 recommendations aimed at key actors involved in the communication of COVID-19 science, including government, funders, universities, publishers, media, and the research communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-423
Number of pages21
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethics
  • Health policy
  • News media
  • Public health
  • Science communication
  • Science policy
  • Scientific integrity


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