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Faye Flam

Coronavirus Uncertainty Plagues the Experts, Too

There’s a lot that scientists still don’t know about Covid-19.

Searching for answers.

Searching for answers.

Photographer: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

What scientists know about Covid-19 is changing fast. And people — from the public to politicians to the press — are confusing the possible with the probable. It’s causing a lot of undue guilt and fear. In times like these, we turn to experts — but what are we supposed to think when the experts themselves are so uncertain?

We’re faced with a torrent of new data, much of which is noise, but the pace of genuine scientific understanding can only go so fast. Journals have loosened their standard for papers on Covid-19 to help scientists share information. But not every new finding is going to hold up.