Is a loss of public trust in expertise the “collateral damage” of the COVID-19 crisis or do people trust experts more now than ever before?

The COVID-19 pandemic has become a real-time test for trust in expertise. Since the beginning of the crisis, scientific experts have been in the centre of public attention; some as independent voices, others as direct advisers to politicians; often in uncomfortable positions and perhaps too frequently contradicting each other. Some experts have turned into celebrities, enjoying praise but also receiving strong criticism and even, at times, being targeted by political campaigns. At the same time, the effectiveness of the policies to tackle the pandemic relies, to a large extent, on citizens’ trust in those experts and the politicians in charge of urgent decisions.
What lessons can we draw from the handling of the pandemic for understanding trust in policy-driven expertise? How have different countries dealt with the delicate enterprise of communicating and relying on uncertain and evolving evidence and advice in extremely difficult times? Is a loss of public trust in expertise the “collateral damage” of this crisis or are people trusting experts more than before?

PERITIA is a Horizon 2020 research project investigating what drives public trust in science-based advice for policymaking. As part of its activities, it proposes an interactive moderated discussion to reflect on these questions. Join experts in an open roundtable discussion to shed light on the different strategies used to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic across Europe and their consequences.

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