One positive to come out of the pandemic? Improved science literacy

Despite misinformation healthcare leaders have fought throughout the pandemic, the COVID-19 crisis seems to have made people more science literate, according to a Wired report Dec. 28.

The pandemic has spurred people to expand their scientific vocabularies and learn concepts of biology and epidemiology.

A team at the Philadelphia-based Annenberg Public Policy Center conducted surveys on scientific knowledge, asking participants for their thoughts on the efficacy of mask-wearing, vaccines and other public health-related measures. In July 2020, 79 percent of respondents said wearing a mask helps prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, and by November 2020 that number stood at 85 percent. 

In a separate linguistics study at Michigan State University that analyzed audio diaries from people throughout the pandemic, similar results were found. In these diaries, researchers found participants — including teenagers — used complex terminology, discussing the difference between mRNA vaccines and others.

Interest for healthcare also has boomed over the course of the pandemic, with medical school applications up 18 percent in the 2020-21 cycle, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The pandemic also introduced people to a range of scientific career paths, as lab technicians and epidemiologists, not just physicians and nurses.

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