Nearly 2 in 5 Covid-19 researchers reported they had been harassed since the pandemic began, according to a new survey published Thursday in Science.
The survey included responses from 510 researchers who have published about Covid-19 and was conducted by the news team of the journal Science.
The survey, which has not gone through a peer review process, found that 38 percent of those researchers had experienced harassment of some kind. Before the pandemic, 71 percent of respondents said they received less harassment or no abuse at all.
Researchers reported personal insults and attacks on their professional capabilities as the most common types of harassment. Other types of abuse — such as threats of harm, physical intimidation and doxxing — were reported more rarely. Eighteen scientists — about 3.5 percent of those surveyed — said they received death threats.
Scientists with public stances on politicized topics — including those against the use of the drug ivermectin — were more likely to experience harassment, the Science analysis suggested.
Science asked nearly 9,600 researchers for their perspective, and it’s possible the results are skewed by those who chose to respond.
Marking two years of the Covid-19 pandemicMarch 12, 202202:36
Harassment of researchers and public health officials during the pandemic has become a growing concern and a focus for professional organizations.
A survey by Nature, which included responses from 321 researchers who discussed Covid-19 in the media, found that 81 percent reported receiving personal attacks, 22 percent had received threats of physical or sexual violence and 15 percent received death threats.
A Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study published last week found widespread reports of harassment among local public health departments.
In survey data collected by the National Association of County and City Health Officials, researchers found 57 percent of health departments reported harassment during the first 11 months of the pandemic, with 1,499 unique cases reported.