The European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors’ guidance for giving advice in pandemic situations

Sensible stuff, including the following quotes:

“…multidisciplinarity in science advice is essential. These discussions across disciplines have to be organised and co-ordinated well, given that the range of perspectives is wide and the scholars involved may not always be familiar with working across the territories of other disciplines.”

“Communicating uncertainty and complexity to policy makers and to the public at large can be difficult, but is essential if trust in politicians and their advisors is to be maintained. It is recommended that attention is always given to identifying and assessing uncertainties when the scientific advice is given. Scientific advisors need to provide clarity about what is known, partially known, unknown, and unknowable.”

“Trust is only possible if the science advice given by official advisors is open and transparent, and is based on the highest quality of evidence. It also needs to be well communicated to the public by the scientists and politicians.”

“…diverging scientific opinions can be confusing for both politicians and the public. However, the solution is not to ‘hide’ differences of opinion but rather to force them into the open and clarify why there is a range of scientific opinions and ethical assessments.”

“…ideas can spread fast through social and mass media, and are prone to manipulation by politicians, celebrities, and other prominent public figures. Scientific advisors need to push back vigorously on such misinformation, even if it puts them in conflict with their political leadership.”

“…the importance of clarity about the governance arrangements and responsibilities in the networks from science advisors to political leadership… Clarity should cover definition and demarcation of advisory versus decision-making functions and roles, together with the responsibilities for communications and for ensuring the public messaging is carried out correctly.”

Full statement is: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/research_and_innovation/groups/sam/sam_covid-19-statement-v5a.pdf

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