How COVID Changed Science

Rarely in recent memory has the world faced such an immediate and widespread global threat as complex as COVID-19. In its face, a select few have risen to the occasion, none more cherished and admired perhaps than the health care workers staffing the front lines. But standing close behind them in the trenches are the scientists and researchers who are among the very few who truly understand the scope of our evolutionary battle with the virus. Since the start of the pandemic, our scientists have acted with unprecedented speed and coordinated action to deliver us an armamentarium of medical weaponry to confront this global threat.

For someone who has spent a lifetime in science, someone who understands the pressures and constraints faced each day in every lab, it has been phenomenal to witness the transformation that has taken place within the scientific community. It is not just the speed and focus with which the scientific community responded, nor simply the use of new technologies to draw out new discoveries, but rather the singular willingness of scientists, all over the world, to share new ideas and data immediately and transparently, in some cases well before the idea or the research is fully formed.

Within weeks of the first case of COVID being reported, Chinese researchers had identified the virus they suspected of causing the disease and had decoded an initial genome sequence. It was a remarkable achievement in such a short amount of time, made more remarkable by the fact that the researchers published the sequence in an open discussion forum online, and encouraged a fellow researcher in Sydney, Australia, to share it via Twitter with the world.

Read the full article on Scientific American 

Originally published on Scientific American on May 25, 2021

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.