COVID-19 scientists threatened with death and violence: investigation – .

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COVID-19 scientists threatened with death and violence: investigation – .


TORONTO – A new survey of 321 scientists who have spoken publicly about COVID-19 finds that 15% have received death threats and 22% have received threats of physical or sexual violence.

The survey, conducted by the journal Nature, has been sent to scientists around the world, including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Taiwan and Brazil. Seventy-four percent of survey respondents are based in the US, UK and Germany, and five percent work in Canada.

Respondents could complete the survey anonymously, but some chose to include their names and email addresses.

The survey also found that more than 25% of those polled said they “always” or “usually” receive negative comments or personal attacks after talking about COVID-19. Over 40 percent of respondents said they experienced emotional or psychological distress as a result.

Social media matters

Many respondents said they used social media to discuss COVID-19 with the public. Almost 63 percent of scientists said they used Twitter, 35 percent used LinkedIn, and 28 percent used Facebook.

Some social media platforms were also a place where researchers faced trolling or personal attacks. For example, among scientists who used Twitter to discuss COVID-19, 34% said they “usually” or “always” face abuse online.

Of those polled, 71 percent said they spoke to the media a few times a month or more. Despite negative comments or personal attacks, 85% of scientists said their experiences with the media were “always” or “mostly” positive.

Nature notes that the results of his survey are not a random sample, as they represent only the experiences of the scientists who chose to respond. However, the Nature survey was based on a smaller informal survey conducted in Australia.

The Australian poll interviewed Australian researchers and scientists. Of the 50 Australian respondents, six said they had received death threats (12%) and six said they had received threats of sexual or physical violence.

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