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"I hope you die": Every second corona scientist is threatened or attacked

2021-10-14T08:57:20.635Z

Not only prominent virologists like Anthony Fauci and Christian Drosten are massively attacked. A survey shows: Every second Corona expert experiences hostility up to physical attacks.



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US virologist Anthony Fauci avoids Twitter and Facebook (archive image)

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POOL / REUTERS

They call him "Hitler" and send death threats to his wife and daughters: US virologist Anthony Fauci has been the focus of public attention since the beginning of the pandemic and attracts a lot of hatred from corona deniers.

But even less prominent scientists are exposed to verbal and sometimes also physical attacks, shows a new survey by the specialist magazine "Nature".

More than half of the Corona experts surveyed state that they have experienced personal attacks in aggressive emails or in social networks after interviews.

321 experts were interviewed, most of them from Great Britain, Germany and the USA.

47 received death threats, and six scientists said they had been physically attacked.

"I hope you die" or "If you were around me, I would shoot you," anonymous senders wrote to the epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz.

Irritant topics are vaccinations and the origin of the virus, said the Australian to the journal "Nature".

However, he received most of the threats from people who were defending an anti-worming agent as an alleged preparation against Covid-19.

Some scientists prefer not to share their knowledge anymore

Experts fear that messages of hatred could lead to withdrawal and self-censorship by experts and deter their colleagues from appearing in public themselves.

In the survey, those affected by personal attacks and troll comments were particularly likely to say that this had an enormous influence on their willingness to talk to the media.

You see a need for action in the "general climate of discourse", including in media and politics, said Konstanze Marx from the University of Greifswald, which researches science and media.

What is needed is a climate of science friendliness.

The unrepresentative "Nature" survey was anonymous, but there are known victims in Germany who themselves made massive hostility public some time ago.

In addition to the SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach, this includes the virologist Christian Drosten.

According to the police, unknown persons had also thrown incendiary devices at a building of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin in October 2020.

"Organized attempt to discredit the truth"

About a year ago at a congress in Berlin, Charité scientist Drosten reported the downside of being known in everyday life: Since he was "quite uncomfortable" being stared at while shopping, he went out with sunglasses and a hat not to be recognized.

He tries to block out the hate mail as much as possible.

US virologist Anthony Fauci, who avoids Twitter and Facebook, warned in a podcast in the New York Times about the consequences of often orchestrated hate campaigns for science.

These are "an organized attempt to discredit the truth."

He also knows colleagues who have already stopped talking publicly about vaccines.

fww / dpa

Source: spiegel

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