Is Anthony Fauci a modern Galileo speaking truth to power?
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., now finds himself fighting a “Galilean” fight in an effort to slow down an uninformed rush to open the country.
Like any good scientist, Fauci clearly acknowledged at a May 12 Senate hearing called “Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School,” that, “I have never made myself out to be the ‘end-all’ … I give advice according to the best scientific evidence … we don’t know everything about this virus.”
This humble admission was similar to Galileo’s summary in “Discourses” of his own contributions to science: “I have discovered by experiment some properties of it which are worth knowing and which have not hitherto been observed or demonstrated … what I consider more important, there have been opened up to this vast and excellent science, of which my work is merely the beginning, ways and means by which other minds more acute than mine will explore its remote corners.”
Let’s prepare for the Next One | Virologist Peter Piot, co-discoverer of Ebola, who is recovering from Covid-19
I hope the lesson will really be that we can’t afford as a society to create the fire brigade once the house is on fire. We need that fire brigade ready all the time hoping that it never has to be deployed.
The many meanings of “stay safe” | Bioethicist David Shaw, BMJ blog
But “stay safe” also conveys much more than concern and hope that someone will avoid harm; the phrase also has some sinister undertones. There is a strong sense in which the phrase also suggests that its recipient should also has a duty to stay safe …
Of course, “obey government policy” is not what most people mean when they say, “stay safe”, but the phrase is nonetheless not as wholesome and supportive as might be imagined given the frequency with which it is used. By saying stay safe, you are tacitly endorsing the government’s message about enforcement of lockdown measures. Many citizens will be happy to do so; others will not.
‘Stay safe’ also has another sinister side, which is that home is simply not a safe space for many.
‘A supernova in human history’ | Vinay Prasad and Jeffrey S. Flier in Stat
Covid-19 is a tragic infection that is killing hundreds of thousands of people around the world. But it is also far more than that. It is a supernova in human history: an expanding, all-encompassing set of events and responses to them that touch every aspect of the human condition, simultaneously worsening and improving human health in myriad ways, through immediate and delayed paths.
Over the next few decades, economists, epidemiologists, public health experts, historians, philosophers, sociologists, physicians, psychologists, and others will work to untangle the interwoven threads.
Even now it takes a village just to answer what seems to be a simple question: How many people have died from Covid-19?
Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge
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