The preprint problem: Unvetted science is fueling COVID-19 misinformation

Gitlin, Jonathan M.

A significant difference between COVID-19 and past pandemics—even the 2009 outbreak of H1N1—has been the speed with which information on the disease has spread. Partly, that's down to social media, as platforms like Twitter have been embraced by scientists and doctors. But another major factor has been the rise of what we call a preprint—an academic research paper that's posted to a publicly accessible server in advance of it having gone through the traditional process of peer review. When unvetted science that makes bold claims goes straight to the public, that can cause problems, as illustrated by a recent preprint on coronavirus mutations covered by John Timmer earlier today.