‘I hope you die’: how the COVID pandemic unleashed attacks on scientists

From Nature, 14 October 2021:

Infectious-diseases physician Krutika Kuppalli had been in her new job for barely a week in September 2020, when someone phoned her at home and threatened to kill her.

Kuppalli, who had just moved from California to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, had been dealing with online abuse for months after she’d given high-profile media interviews on COVID-19, and had recently testified to a US congressional committee on how to hold safe elections during the pandemic. But the phone call was a scary escalation. “It made me very anxious, nervous and upset,” says Kuppalli, who now works at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

She called the police, but didn’t hear that they took any action. The threatening e-mails, calls and online comments continued. The police officer who visited Kuppalli after a second death-threat call suggested she should get herself a gun.

Kuppalli’s experience during the pandemic is not uncommon. A survey by Nature of more than 300 scientists who have given media interviews about COVID-19 — many of whom had also commented about the pandemic on social media — has found wide experience of harassment or abuse; 15% said they had received death threats. Read more.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s