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A scientist in the public eye has taken her own life. This has to be a wake-up call | Devi Sridhar

Health workers are leaving the field because of the abuse they’ve received over Covid. They urgently need support

Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, an Austrian GP, was a doctor who dedicated her life to her patients and was vocal about the risks of Covid-19 on Twitter and in the media. She had endured months of death threats from Covid conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers. Colleagues expressed frustration with the lack of support she received for dealing with the daily abuse. Last month, Kellermayr took her own life.

When the news of Kellermayr’s death was shared among the medical community, the reaction was one of sadness but little surprise. During the pandemic, scientists have suffered huge amounts of abuse and blame while just trying to do their jobs. I suffered far less than many of my colleagues, but still got my share of online attacks during the pandemic. I was targeted in tweets, YouTube videos, blogs, viral Facebook posts and malicious revisions to my Wikipedia page. Someone pointed to a talk about global health I gave in 2018 as evidence that I had caused the Covid-19 pandemic as part of the “deep state”. The attacks came from all directions: anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, conspiracy theorists, anti-Bill Gates, anti-Wellcome Trust, anti-medicine, anti-Scottish government, Tory politicians, all muddled together in puzzling ways.

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