A mountain of information is needed for this new war

Every scrap of information we can get will help humankind go on the offensive against COVID-19. Scientists have in common with police detectives that they understand even the most insignificant appearing fact may prove to be crucial in solving a case.

One statistic that already is showing from the coronavirus pandemic is that, at least in the United States, it may be affecting racial minorities disproportionately. An Associated Press analysis of COVID-19 cases in an area where 21 percent of the people are black disclosed that 42 percent of victims of the disease were of that race.

Is the virus that causes COVID-19 more dangerous to blacks for some reason? Were those in the area checked by the AP more vulnerable for some non-biological reason? Was the news service’s analysis scientific enough to draw any conclusions?

These questions and others need to be answered. But as the database on COVID-19 builds, factors involving literally hundreds of other factors need to be explored, too.

Some politicians in the United States tend to seize upon anything in attempts to woo voters.

For example, presidential candidate Joe Biden commented on race and the coronavirus a few days ago. In an online post, Biden wrote that the epidemic is “amplifying the structural racism that is built into so much of our daily lives, our institutions, our laws and our communities.”

But is it? Of course, if racial discrimination of any kind has been a factor in the COVID-19 outbreak, we need to know about it. Starting an investigation of the epidemic with any preconceived notion would be positively dangerous, however. It could tend to draw researchers to false conclusions. That would hamper the search for ways to combat the virus.

By Sunday, the death toll from the coronavirus had topped 21,000 in the United States, 113,000 worldwide. Dealing with COVID-19 and other emerging diseases needs to be a priority for the scientific community. A mountain of information — not slanted by any unscientific biases — is needed for this new war.


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