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Letter from the editor

Journalism during a pandemic

On March 20, the Pesquisa FAPESP offices closed and the team began working remotely. The April issue was completed in the midst of a rush to establish new working processes involving videoconferences, content-sharing platforms, and cloud storage. The May edition, meanwhile, was planned and executed from a distance, with only the journal’s photographer, Léo Ramos Chaves, taking to the streets—in a mask—to capture images of life in the city, as shown on the back cover.

The pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus has impacted many professions. Some have stopped entirely, while others tirelessly continue providing essential services. Research and innovation communities have been working hard to understand the structure and behavior of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, and its effects on the human body, in an effort to develop drugs and vaccines. While no specific treatment is currently available, respirators play an important role in the most severe cases. These and other topics are covered in this Covid-19 special.

It is still difficult to assess the pandemic in all of its dimensions. One researcher cited in this issue described the disease as having “humiliating ferocity.” At the time our previous issue was published, nearly one million people had been infected worldwide, with more than 40,000 lives lost. One month later, the numbers are staggering: 3.5 million people infected and 250,000 dead since the turn of the year. Such speed demands daily news coverage, and readers of Pesquisa FAPESP can access daily updates on the website or by email.

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Although the novel coronavirus is dominating reader interest and concern, there is space for other topics. The most recent PINTEC survey on innovation, conducted by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), indicates a drop in the percentage of businesses working in this area (page 58). In other development problems, economic research has shown that inequality and poverty are distinct phenomena, and that growing inequality is a problem in its own right that harms not only social mobility, but also economic growth. Progressive taxation has been used in several countries to mitigate these inequalities.

At the end of April, neuroscientist Luiz Eugênio Mello, from UNIFESP, took over as the new Scientific Director of FAPESP. He replaces physicist Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, who assumed the position in 2005. In an interview, Mello spoke of his plans for the Foundation, his vision of science and technology, and the challenges posed by the pandemic. The new director proposes that FAPESP expand its collaboration with other states and international partners, seeking to work with countries at different stages of development. Despite the urgent questions raised by the pandemic, Mello notes that the situation has helped improve the public’s perception of scientific activity, since it is science that is providing many of the answers: “The more people are educated about how to access science and the ability to look at the world and understand how it relates to them, the better.”

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