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COVID-19, Science, and the Media: Lessons Learned Reporting on the Pandemic

26 Oct 2021, 12:30pm-1:30pm

In January 2020, reports began to circulate internationally of a pneumonia-like illness spreading in China. Little was known about the novel pathogen, SARS-CoV-2, at that time.

As scientists and public health experts worked to understand the virus, reporters worked to communicate to the public the state of the knowledge — an ever-shifting ground.  

From the transmission debate, to the origins investigation, to changes in mask guidance, to vaccine safety concerns, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a particularly precarious nexus of science, politics, journalism, social media, and policy. This panel discussion will reflect on this tenuous situation, potential areas of improvement in pandemic reporting, and lessons learned from recent experience.  


  • Introduction: Chloe Reichel, Editor-in-Chief, Bill of Health and Communications Associate, Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School
  • Kai Kupferschmidt, contributing correspondent, Science magazine

  • Apoorva Mandavilli, health and science reporter, The New York Times

  • Amy Maxmen, senior reporter, Nature

  • Emily Woodruff, health reporter, The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate

  • Moderator: Alexandra L. Phelan, Assistant Professor, Center for Global Health Science and Security, Georgetown University

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