Unify Sociology and Biology

We will remember the years 2020-21 for a virus and the viral fighting abilities of the scientists. The highly mysterious virus acts in unusual ways. In some it causes mild symptoms, while in some critical illness. Respiratory viruses generally cause minor ailments. But this respiratory virus seems to attack the heart, brain, kidneys, and other organs. The scientists immediately jumped into the viral bandwagon lock stock and barrel. They have been able to tame the virus. What they have done in less than a year, used to take several years. Such a shift in scientific priorities is unheard of in the history of medicine. There is a large shift in the research focus of scientists. It is a case of collective intelligence to blunt the presence of a virus. Scientists dealt with the pandemic on a war footing. The result is that we have diagnostic tests that can detect the virus within minutes. We have known the evolution of infection. We have developed vaccines in a record time. We have prepared ourselves to face the next pandemic. We have understood how misguided policies can ruin us. We have understood the need of a collective endeavour. Laboratories turned their focus on the pandemic science.   Scientists faced unfamiliar questions regarding the efficacy and usefulness of the critical  trials. Scientists moved from “one bug, one drug” approach to platform technologies, customized for different payloads to target new viruses. Journalists became scientists overnight. The emergent situation needed emergent measures, such as investing in manufacturing before the trials are completed, and also taking care of safety needs. “And the next time a mystery pathogen emerges, scientists hope to quickly slot its genetic material into proven platforms, and move the resulting vaccines through the same speedy pipelines that were developed during this pandemic.” It is a triumph of scientific genius and organizational purpose.
These viruses have changed the perception of scientists about viruses. These viruses have reinforced the concept of ‘premortem’. Some are calling COVID research as “black hole sucking us all in.” Seeing the inherent opportunities in viral research, many ‘unqualified’ scientists have entered into the fray. They have created more commotion in their unqualified territory. Any “epistemic trespassing” creates a mess. “People who don’t know how to spell tuberculosis have told me they can solve the link between BCG and COVID‑19,” says a scientist. Ill-suited simulations create ecological fallacy. The surfaced tsunami of experts creates more havoc than they give solace to the scientific community. There will always be media to lap up any story that sells. Gatecrashers are never in short supply. Social reforms are essential to prevent diseases. We have to see that many neglected diseases are no longer neglected. We need to balance our priorities. The pandemic has given us an opportunity for self-correction. There is a need to unify sociology and biology more coherently.

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