Pandemic has brought Global Disruption. Every aspect of life is dislocated, leaving us clueless about the next moment. It is a dramatic disordered world—we are living in a "reshaped" world; with whatever considered as 'normal' fading away and unfamiliar turning familiar. Even as an exploration into the post-pandemic world may seem early, some questions have begun to emerge. Most important being that how we should use what we have learned and experienced during the past more than one year to build a better world. Or will the present state-of-affairs remain what they call a "Covid-Limited Edition"? Perhaps, the optimism in us will want it to be so. But as of now, it doesn't seem so. This 'limited edition' is leaving deep-seated imprints in our lives and our civilization.
Perhaps, it will take empathy-led research—Exempathy—the expert-led research with enough amount of empathy to look into the changing contours of humankind and offer paradigm-shifting solutions to help brave disease and desolation. From science to social sciences, fostering a research enterprise will be the calling. Especially transformative service research (TSR) aiming to institute social change that enhances individual and societal well-being.
However, the wretchedness around indicates the phenomenon of "Covidization" which is distorting research because of dissemination out of hasty half-baked research. Surprisingly, some major brand research journals have goofed up. The first big research scandal of the Covid-19 era surfaced when The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine(NEJM) retracted two high profile papers after a mysterious company (Surgisphere) refused to make the underlying data, used by both the papers, available for an independent audit in the wake of doubts raised about the said research. Besides, a case about a letter in a first-person submitted to The Lancet Global Health describing the condition of frontline nurses in Wuhan was very shocking. However, the authors later informed the journal that the experience depicted in the letter was not a first-hand account. In another case, the authors who reported the first Covid-19 related death in pregnant women, retracted the case report when they came to know that another team of doctors from a different hospital have published the same report earlier.
Reportedly, the countries with the highest number of retractions or withdrawn research papers are the two most influential producers of research in the world—that is China and the USA! With more than 44 million all-time Google searches and billions of queries and tweets about coronavirus, the literal infodemic has taken over the real research by data falsification, methodological concerns besides data interpretation failings. For instance, as per the database of retraction watch, a blog that reports on retraction of research papers, reliable access was not obtained to one paper titled "Corona Virus killed by Sound Vibrations Produced by Thali or Ghanti: A Potential Hypothesis." Such is the carnage of research through substandard ways.
An Australian Professor of Health Sciences Katrina Bramstedt in a 2020 webcast said, "Research normally occurs at the speed of a marathon, but during a pandemic, the pace is more like a sprint." The slow pace is primarily meant for reflection on the quality of research. However, during the pandemic, the chase for research has lowered the reflective periods, resulting in missed quality checks by resorting to shortcuts rather than following standard practices of research.
The researchers need to understand that swiftly reported and erroneous data is not only useless but turns out to be counterproductive in treating Covid-19 patients efficiently. Reporting of invalid data is further complicated by misinformation on treating and managing Covid-19 patients. One such case in point is Covid-19 patients developing superimposed fungal infection mucormycosis( commonly called Black Fungus). The rampant use of steroids and excessive use of antibiotics and other medicines even in asymptomatic Covid-19 patients has contributed to this fungal catastrophe. Googling and subsequent self-medication is emerging as a deterrent in decreasing the mortality and morbidity associated with Covid-19.
Bottomline: The harsh reality of "Covid-Limited Edition" is the escalating inequality as institutionalized injustice deepens with marks of 'othering' and politicization of global research. "Covid-Limited Edition" world has set new norms that can be long lasting. Whether it is 'Vaccine Diplomacy' or 'Vaccine Tourism', the intriguing dynamics of research and knowledge are getting more intertwined with geopolitical factors rather than global welfare.
This edition of the world will not go so soon. It will fetch in more vulnerability and injustice as we process the benumbed sense of colossal grief around.