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Surprise! The Pandemic Has Made People More Science Literate

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But science—particularly new science—routinely faces pushback. Early within the AIDS epidemic, scientists discovered HIV, the virus that causes the illness. “There were people here in the United States, all around the world, who said, ‘Well, I know that they identified this virus, and they’re saying it causes AIDS, but I don’t believe that’s true,’” says Brandt.

“It’s not surprising,” he continues. “In pandemics, there’s always these kinds of debates. But very quickly people did become convinced.”

Although it might really feel like Covid-19 has plagued us perpetually, in actuality scientists are solely two years into the dual processes of understanding the illness and educating the general public about it. Jamieson’s group on the Annenberg Public Policy Center has conducted surveys on scientific information all through the pandemic. They have asked members for his or her ideas on the effectiveness of vaccines, masks, and different behaviors. And, regardless of the maelstrom of misbeliefs working towards information, Jamieson finds that individuals are the truth is studying. In two surveys of about 800 random Americans taken in July and November of 2020, nearly all of respondents stated they accepted that sporting masks helps forestall the unfold of respiratory illness. That quantity jumped from 79 to 85 p.c over the five-month interval. In a separate survey from March and April of this 12 months, 75 percent stated that getting the Covid-19 vaccine is safer than getting the virus. “Most people are getting the answers right,” Jamieson says. “And they didn’t have any of those answers before Covid because these answers are Covid-specific.”

Still, that’s not 100 p.c. But to Jamieson, it’s a stunning quantity value celebrating. “People don’t just accept new vaccines,” she says. “If they did, we’d have higher uptake of the HPV vaccine. We’d have higher uptake of the flu vaccine. That’s a sign that they learned something.”

Vaccine-hesitant members in Jamieson’s examine confirmed that they realized one thing new about public health, too. The 2021 survey happened after the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines obtained emergency use authorization from the FDA, however earlier than the Pfizer shot had obtained full approval. “People stated to us, ‘It hasn’t been licensed but. No, wait a minute! I did not imply that. It hasn’t been accredited but,’” says Jamieson. “They now know something about the approval process and the authorization process.”

This publicity to new terminology has stored Sneller intrigued with the linguistics mission. “One thing that strikes me is how scientifically literate especially our teenage participants are about things like mRNA vaccines,” Sneller says. In their weekly audio diaries, members speak about their day-to-day lives, and a few teenagers speak about mRNA vaccines and how they differ from other formulations. That is cutting-edge science, not one thing that’s lengthy been part of colleges’ curriculums. “That’s happening directly because of the pandemic,” Sneller says.

Young youngsters are studying extra health science, too. Early within the pandemic, researchers surveyed youngsters aged 7 to 12 from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Brazil, Spain, Canada, and Australia. The group created a web based survey to ask youngsters and their dad and mom what they knew concerning the outbreak—and what they needed to know. “Really early on, kids were saying, ‘When will a vaccine be available?’” says Lucy Bray, a pediatric nurse and professor of youngsters’s health literacy at Edge Hill University within the UK, who led the examine. The youngsters asked why the pandemic started. They asked if their household can be secure. “Really sensible, quite informed questions,” she says.

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