The Oct. 12 front-page article “Another casualty of 2020: Trust in science” observed that covid-19 therapies and vaccines have become entangled in the presidential election-year politics and explained how this has compromised the public’s trust in the work of our health agencies. There is some positive news about public trust, however, suggesting that this relates far more to the circumstances surrounding covid-19 than to Americans’ views on the value of science itself. Our recently commissioned survey shows overwhelming bipartisan confidence in science. Seventy-nine percent of Americans expressed confidence that scientists are working on their behalf, and 80 percent believe it is important for elected officials to listen to scientists. 

Public trust in the covid-19 response can be regained. Not only must policymakers check their political aspirations at the door when lives are at stake, but also more scientists must convey information directly to the public about covid-19 and other urgent issues ripe for the spread of misinformation. 

Science is neither Republican nor Democratic. It is a dispassionate process. Science is also not static — when a new threat like covid-19 arises, the science will evolve and so will the advice associated with it. Scientists are the best positioned to de-dramatize science and instill trust in the scientific process. Let’s engage them.

Mary Woolley, Arlington

The writer is president and chief executive of
Research!America, a not-for-profit
public education and advocacy alliance.

Regarding the Oct. 15 editorialConfidence in vaccines needs a shot in the arm”:

By most accounts, the American public’s perception of a covid-19 vaccine is tainted — with disinformation. To ensure that more people will take a new vaccine, social scientists must join the public debate on the safety and efficacy of an approved vaccine. 

The irony is rich; scientists are uniquely positioned to receive approval for a vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration. Still, soon after approval, the voices of scientists must fade into the white noise of the public debate. Because Americans have absorbed far too much disinformation during the race to approve a vaccine — much of which is related to it being an election year, and some that must be attributable to the lingering distrust of Operation Warp Speed

Regrettably, after months of partisan bickering, the public debate has been weaponized and a vaccine is increasingly becoming something to be feared, not celebrated. 

Mark M. Spradley, Chevy Chase