On 24 January, an article by the executive director of the British Academy, Hetan Shah, was published in the prestigious journal Nature (vol. 577 pg. 295 year 2020) that makes for interesting reading at this time when we are struggling to try to alleviate the huge negative effects of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
In the government information offered to us on an almost daily basis in the media—for example, in American Dr. Anthony Fauci, in Spanish Dr. Fernando Simon — is almost exclusively focused on medical and sanitary information.
This suggests that it is almost exclusively science that must determine the rules that citizens should follow to combat coronavirus.
In this respect, the aforementioned article emphasizes the importance of also listening to what the humanities and the social sciences can tell us. According to him, if we do not, we will be unable to meet the challenges presented by this pandemic. In his view, we cannot improve global health if we approach it solely from a medical perspective, because pandemics, such as the one we are currently experiencing, are social as well as biological phenomena.
Consequently, he believes that the advice of historians, social psychologists and political scientists will be needed to effectively combat coronavirus. The British scientist cites several examples in this respect, including how mistrust regarding vaccination is a social rather than a scientific phenomenon, and so we must address it in order to fight it.
Coronavirus pandemic humanitarian approach
Thus, Shah concludes that, “In a democracy, expert advice must be balanced with considerations such as public opinion, financial costs and political demands. Still, without the humanities and social sciences, hard science and technology can do little to resolve complex societal challenges. Wise governments will find ways to incorporate that insight.” We would like to convey these thoughts to those who currently have the responsibility for planning the fight against coronavirus worldwide.
From our personalistic bioethics point of view, coronavirus pandemic humanitarian approach to fight against the pandemic should inform and involve every person. They are the victims but also the means to defeat pandemic.