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          Don't let science get dirty in political mud

          來源:Xinhuanet責任編輯:Li Wei
          2021-07-11 15:39
          File photo taken on Jan. 14, 2021 shows a message board that reads "COVID ALERT" near Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)

          A better and friendlier environment is needed for scientists to solve the intricate epidemiological puzzle. Let science, not politics, prevail in humanity's fight against the pandemic of the century.

          BEIJING, July 10 (Xinhua) -- "If you are sick, who should you get advice from? "If you try asking a five-year-old child this question, he or she would probably say: the doctors.

          But in some Western countries, politicians are sparing no effort to make science "politically correct" and persecute scientists who speak the truth.

          Australian virologist Danielle Anderson, who repeatedly opposed the theory that COVID-19 was leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, paid a price for her honesty.

          A staff member carries out testing at the inactivated COVID-19 vaccine quality inspection lab of Sinovac Life Sciences Co., Ltd. in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 23, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Yuwei)

          She received insulting emails that read, for instance, "eat a bat and die." She was named as "the woman running projects with weaponized COVID." The attack she faced was so vehement that she had to call the police.

          Anderson has extensive experience in bat-borne virus research and is the only foreign scientist that has worked in the high-security Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) lab of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

          Anderson said the virus has a natural origin. "I have worked in this exact laboratory at various times for the past two years. I can personally attest to the strict control and containment measures implemented while working there. The staff at (Wuhan Institute of Virology) are incredibly competent, hard-working, and are excellent scientists with superb track records," she told the Sydney Morning Herald in a recent interview.

          People queue up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside a hospital in Madrid, Spain, July 7, 2021. (Photo by Gustavo Valiente/Xinhua)

          She is not alone.

          An evolutionary biologist, Professor Edward Holmes, at the University of Sydney faced "a steady battering of online harassment and death threats from conspiracy theorists," said the Sydney Morning Harold last October.

          "Professor Holmes became the target of unrelenting online attacks after he co-authored a paper in Nature Medicine debunking the pervading conspiracy theory that the virus was engineered in or escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan," the report said. He was accused of being paid by China, and of "mass murder" for failing to support the lab leak theory.

          Anthony Fauci, an American immunologist who serves as the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the president, faced criticism and calls to resign over his earlier claim that COVID-19 originated from wild animals rather than the Wuhan lab.

          Elise Stefanik, chair of the U.S. House Republican Conference, sent a fundraising email recently with the subject line "FIRE FAUCI." Senators Rand Paul and Josh Hawley asked Dr. Fauci to resign.

          Leaf artist Subham Saha shows his creation depicting doctors and COVID-19 vaccination, on the outskirts of Agartala, the capital city of India's northeastern state of Tripura, June 11, 2021. (Str/Xinhua)

          In a telephone interview with Xinhua, an Australian scientist, who asked not to be named, agreed that political motivation was put ahead of science and truth in the search for the origins of the coronavirus. If a scientist insists on telling the truth rather than joining the "politically correct" smear campaign against China, she would be labeled as a puppet of the Communist Party of China.

          Scientists worldwide are under tremendous pressure and some have already opted for silence, giving political agenda and biased media reports a bigger influence in shaping public opinion.

          Bending science to suit political ends will lead to a public health crisis, especially at such a critical moment when COVID-19 deaths passed 4 million worldwide. More lives will be lost if the pandemic is exploited for political gains.

          COVID-19 is not political. Thus, the response should not be politicized. Persecuting scientists who speak the truth is a barbaric act that risks returning the human race to the age of confusion and ignorance.

          Research is usually a plodding, tedious process. The probe into the origins of COVID-19 might take years. Scientists have spent about 13 years determining the origin of the SARS epidemic. In 2006, more than 20 years after HIV spread across the world and killed millions, researchers confirmed that HIV-1, the main virus responsible for human AIDS, originated in wild chimpanzees, and there are still mysteries unsolved. The origin of Ebola has not been determined yet, although the disease has caused epidemics since the 1970s.

          A better and friendlier environment is needed for scientists to solve the intricate epidemiological puzzle. Let science, not politics, prevail in humanity's fight against the pandemic of the century.