AstraZeneca, Scientific ‘Cold War’ and Infodemic

I know, the title doesn’t quite make sense. It is a cluster of key words to summarise a few outreach highlights from last month.

Thanks to the platform the Aspen Institute provided, I was on the Italian foreign policy radio programme ‘Nessun luogo è lontano’ when the side-effect of AstraZeneca was sensationalised in Europe.

This was followed by an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, on science skepticism and on science diplomacy regarding China’s rise. 

COVID and subsequent vaccine race have brought science back into the spotlight of international politics. On this topic, I had a good discussion with Éanna Kelly at Science Business, on how to make sense of China’s rise, on the speculations of another ‘Cold War’ and, I think most importantly, how to understand Chinese scientists.

I feel some of the mistrust or skepticisms are, in a way, ‘understandable’. But the way regulators, media, and politicians are dealing with these mutual skepticisms is just very counter-productive. The problem is not limited to China’s rise, although China does have a magnifying glass effects on many of the common concerns. There is a wider issue with how Western communities learn to comprehend new scientific powers. This is a focus of my forthcoming book ‘The Elephant and the Dragon in Contemporary Life Sciences’, in which I and my co-author Saheli unpack some of the real ‘elephant in the room’.

Finally, the Aspen Institue INFODEMIC: Global Conversations on Science and Misinformation produced by Robyn Rosenfeld and Aaron Mertz at the Aspen Institute ⁦is coming to PBS, Link TV and ⁦YouTube⁩ on May 2! I’m in the first episode- I caught a glimpse of myself in the trailer. And oh my, I have to say, if you too think I was ghostly white, it was because I took the director’s instruction on lighting very very seriously. Ha, I definitely learnt a few things about home studio over the past year through filming my own module too. Anyways, I can’t wait to watch the other five episodes.

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