Position Statement No. 1: Pandemic denial is shameful and unethical

In recent days, we have seen an increase in confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection. It can be expected that the consequence of this will be growing numbers of patients with severe COVID-19 requiring hospital or ICU treatment.

Some of these cases will unfortunately result in the patient’s death. As we approach autumn, the situation is likely to become worse with every week. With this in mind, we are greatly concerned about the growing amount of misinformation being spread in the public sphere, especially via social media and the press, denying the existence of the virus and the seriousness of the pandemic it has caused. The growing denial of the real, serious threat to individual and public health, in particular in the context of increasing numbers of individuals disregarding recommendations which aim to prevent the spread of the virus, may significantly contribute to a continuing rise in the infection rate and the serious consequences thereof.

There is absolutely no scientific basis for denying the existence of the virus, its pathogenicity or the consequences of infection. The most reputable international medical journals have published statements by some of the leading authorities in medicine, virology and epidemiology discussing the matter. As of 7 August 2020, there have been 1774 confirmed deaths caused byCOVID-19 in Poland. During the same period, there have been 65 deaths caused by influenza. To date, there have been over 700,000 deaths caused by COVID-19 worldwide. Denying the existence of the virus and the pandemic is highly unethical, and it is disrespectful to those victims and their families. We urge the public to not fall for misinformation and to continue adhering to simple recommendations which have a real effect towards curbing the pandemic and reducing the risk of infection: maintaining social distancing of at least 1.5 meters, washing and disinfecting the hands regularly and wearing a mask covering the nose and mouth when indoors.

We urge caution when interacting with others, especially elderly and high-risk individuals. Following these simple recommendations may prevent further restrictions from being imposed on public life.

About the team

The Interdisciplinary COVID-19 Advisory Team to the President of the Polish Academy of Sciences was set up on 30 June 2020. The team is led by Prof. Jerzy Duszyński, President of PAS, with Prof. Krzysztof Pyrć (Jagiellonian University) acting as deputy. Dr. Aneta Afelt (University of Warsaw) is the secretary of the board. Other members are Prof. Radosław Owczuk (Medical University of Gdańsk), Dr. Anna Ochab-Marcinek (PAS Institute of Physical Chemistry), Dr. Magdalena Rosińska (National Institute of Public Health – National Institute of Hygiene), Prof. Andrzej Rychard (PAS Institute of Philosophy and Sociology) and Dr. Tomasz Smiatacz (Medical University of Gdańsk).