Persuasive Essay Writing

Persuasive Essay About Covid 19

Cathy A.

Top Examples of Persuasive Essay about Covid-19

Published on: Jan 10, 2023

Last updated on: Jan 29, 2024

Persuasive Essay About Covid-19

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In these recent years, covid-19 has emerged as a major global challenge. It has caused immense global economic, social, and health problems. 

Writing a persuasive essay on COVID-19 can be tricky with all the information and misinformation. 

But don't worry! We have compiled a list of persuasive essay examples during this pandemic to help you get started.

Here are some examples and tips to help you create an effective persuasive essay about this pandemic.

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Examples of Persuasive Essay About Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic has everyone on edge. You can expect your teachers to give you an essay about covid-19. You might be overwhelmed about what to write in an essay. 

Worry no more! 

Here are a few examples to help get you started.

Persuasive Essay About Covid-19 Pandemic

Sample Of Persuasive Essay About Covid-19

Persuasive Essay About Covid-19 In The Philippines - Example

Check out some more  persuasive essay examples  to get more inspiration and guidance.

Examples of Persuasive Essay About the Covid-19 Vaccine

With so much uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine, it can be challenging for students to write a persuasive essay about getting vaccinated.

Here are a few examples of persuasive essays about vaccination against covid-19.

Check these out to learn more. 

Persuasive essay on the covid-19 vaccine

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Examples of Persuasive Essay About Covid-19 Integration

Writing a persuasive essay on Covid-19 integration doesn't have to be stressful or overwhelming.

With the right approach and preparation, you can write an essay that will get them top marks!

Here are a few samples of compelling persuasive essays. Give them a look and get inspiration for your next essay. 

Integration of Covid-19 Persuasive essay

Integration of Covid-19 Persuasive essay sample

Examples of Argumentative Essay About Covid-19

Writing an argumentative essay can be a daunting task, especially when the topic is as broad as the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Read the following examples of how to make a compelling argument on covid-19.

Argumentative essay on Covid-19

Argumentative Essay On Covid-19

Examples of Persuasive Speeches About Covid-19

Writing a persuasive speech about anything can seem daunting. However, writing a persuasive speech about something as important as the Covid-19 pandemic doesn’t have to be difficult.

 So let's explore some examples of perfectly written persuasive essays. 

Persuasive Speech About Covid-19 Example

Tips to Write a Persuasive Essay

Here are seven tips that can help you create a  strong argument on the topic of covid-19. 

Check out this informative video to learn more about effective tips and tricks for writing persuasive essays.

1. Start with an attention-grabbing hook: 

Use a quote, statistic, or interesting fact related to your argument at the beginning of your essay to draw the reader in.

2. Make sure you have a clear thesis statement: 

A thesis statement is one sentence that expresses the main idea of your essay. It should clearly state your stance on the topic and provide a strong foundation for the rest of your content.

3. Support each point with evidence: 

To make an effective argument, you must back up each point with credible evidence from reputable sources. This will help build credibility and validate your claims throughout your paper. 

4. Use emotional language and tone: 

Emotional appeals are powerful tools to help make your argument more convincing. Use appropriate language for the audience and evokes emotion to draw them in and get them on board with your claims.

5. Anticipate counterarguments: 

Use proper counterarguments to effectively address all point of views. 

Acknowledge opposing viewpoints and address them directly by providing evidence or reasoning why they are wrong.

6. Stay focused: 

Keep your main idea in mind throughout the essay, making sure all of your arguments support it. Don’t stray off-topic or introduce unnecessary information that will distract from the purpose of your paper. 

7. Conclude strongly: 

Make sure you end on a strong note. Reemphasize your main points, restate your thesis statement, and challenge the reader to respond or take action in some way. This will leave a lasting impression in their minds and make them more likely to agree with you.

Writing an effective  persuasive essay  is a piece of cake with our guide and examples. Check them out to learn more!

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We hope that you have found the inspiration to write your next persuasive essay about covid-19. 

However, If you're overwhelmed by the task, don't worry - our professional essay writing service is here to help.

Our expert and experienced persuasive essay writer can help you write a persuasive essay on covid-19 that gets your readers' attention.

Our professional essay writer can provide you with all the resources and support you need to craft a well-written, well-researched essay.  Our essay writing service offers top-notch quality and guaranteed results. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you begin a persuasive essay.

To begin a persuasive essay, you must choose a topic you feel strongly about and formulate an argument or position. Start by researching your topic thoroughly and then formulating your thesis statement.

What are good topics for persuasive essays?

Good topics for persuasive essays include healthcare reform, gender issues, racial inequalities, animal rights, environmental protection, and political change. Other popular topics are social media addiction, internet censorship, gun control legislation, and education reform. 

What impact does COVID-19 have on society?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on society worldwide. It has changed the way we interact with one another. The pandemic has also caused economic disruption, forcing many businesses to close or downsize their operations. 

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Covid 19 Essay in English

Essay on Covid -19: In a very short amount of time, coronavirus has spread globally. It has had an enormous impact on people's lives, economy, and societies all around the world, affecting every country. Governments have had to take severe measures to try and contain the pandemic. The virus has altered our way of life in many ways, including its effects on our health and our economy. Here are a few sample essays on ‘CoronaVirus’.

100 Words Essay on Covid 19

200 words essay on covid 19, 500 words essay on covid 19.

Covid 19 Essay in English

COVID-19 or Corona Virus is a novel coronavirus that was first identified in 2019. It is similar to other coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, but it is more contagious and has caused more severe respiratory illness in people who have been infected. The novel coronavirus became a global pandemic in a very short period of time. It has affected lives, economies and societies across the world, leaving no country untouched. The virus has caused governments to take drastic measures to try and contain it. From health implications to economic and social ramifications, COVID-19 impacted every part of our lives. It has been more than 2 years since the pandemic hit and the world is still recovering from its effects.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the world has been impacted in a number of ways. For one, the global economy has taken a hit as businesses have been forced to close their doors. This has led to widespread job losses and an increase in poverty levels around the world. Additionally, countries have had to impose strict travel restrictions in an attempt to contain the virus, which has resulted in a decrease in tourism and international trade. Furthermore, the pandemic has put immense pressure on healthcare systems globally, as hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients suffering from the virus. Lastly, the outbreak has led to a general feeling of anxiety and uncertainty, as people are fearful of contracting the disease.

My Experience of COVID-19

I still remember how abruptly colleges and schools shut down in March 2020. I was a college student at that time and I was under the impression that everything would go back to normal in a few weeks. I could not have been more wrong. The situation only got worse every week and the government had to impose a lockdown. There were so many restrictions in place. For example, we had to wear face masks whenever we left the house, and we could only go out for essential errands. Restaurants and shops were only allowed to operate at take-out capacity, and many businesses were shut down.

In the current scenario, coronavirus is dominating all aspects of our lives. The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc upon people’s lives, altering the way we live and work in a very short amount of time. It has revolutionised how we think about health care, education, and even social interaction. This virus has had long-term implications on our society, including its impact on mental health, economic stability, and global politics. But we as individuals can help to mitigate these effects by taking personal responsibility to protect themselves and those around them from infection.

Effects of CoronaVirus on Education

The outbreak of coronavirus has had a significant impact on education systems around the world. In China, where the virus originated, all schools and universities were closed for several weeks in an effort to contain the spread of the disease. Many other countries have followed suit, either closing schools altogether or suspending classes for a period of time.

This has resulted in a major disruption to the education of millions of students. Some have been able to continue their studies online, but many have not had access to the internet or have not been able to afford the costs associated with it. This has led to a widening of the digital divide between those who can afford to continue their education online and those who cannot.

The closure of schools has also had a negative impact on the mental health of many students. With no face-to-face contact with friends and teachers, some students have felt isolated and anxious. This has been compounded by the worry and uncertainty surrounding the virus itself.

The situation with coronavirus has improved and schools have been reopened but students are still catching up with the gap of 2 years that the pandemic created. In the meantime, governments and educational institutions are working together to find ways to support students and ensure that they are able to continue their education despite these difficult circumstances.

Effects of CoronaVirus on Economy

The outbreak of the coronavirus has had a significant impact on the global economy. The virus, which originated in China, has spread to over two hundred countries, resulting in widespread panic and a decrease in global trade. As a result of the outbreak, many businesses have been forced to close their doors, leading to a rise in unemployment. In addition, the stock market has taken a severe hit.

Effects of CoronaVirus on Health

The effects that coronavirus has on one's health are still being studied and researched as the virus continues to spread throughout the world. However, some of the potential effects on health that have been observed thus far include respiratory problems, fever, and coughing. In severe cases, pneumonia, kidney failure, and death can occur. It is important for people who think they may have been exposed to the virus to seek medical attention immediately so that they can be treated properly and avoid any serious complications. There is no specific cure or treatment for coronavirus at this time, but there are ways to help ease symptoms and prevent the virus from spreading.

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A career as water manager needs to provide clean water, preventing flood damage, and disposing of sewage and other wastes. He or she also repairs and maintains structures that control the flow of water, such as reservoirs, sea defense walls, and pumping stations. In addition to these, the Manager has other responsibilities related to water resource management.

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A career as a Finance Executive requires one to be responsible for monitoring an organisation's income, investments and expenses to create and evaluate financial reports. His or her role involves performing audits, invoices, and budget preparations. He or she manages accounting activities, bank reconciliations, and payable and receivable accounts.  

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A Product Manager is a professional responsible for product planning and marketing. He or she manages the product throughout the Product Life Cycle, gathering and prioritising the product. A product manager job description includes defining the product vision and working closely with team members of other departments to deliver winning products.  

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An Investment Banking career involves the invention and generation of capital for other organizations, governments, and other entities. Individuals who opt for a career as Investment Bankers are the head of a team dedicated to raising capital by issuing bonds. Investment bankers are termed as the experts who have their fingers on the pulse of the current financial and investing climate. Students can pursue various Investment Banker courses, such as Banking and Insurance , and  Economics to opt for an Investment Banking career path.

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An underwriter is a person who assesses and evaluates the risk of insurance in his or her field like mortgage, loan, health policy, investment, and so on and so forth. The underwriter career path does involve risks as analysing the risks means finding out if there is a way for the insurance underwriter jobs to recover the money from its clients. If the risk turns out to be too much for the company then in the future it is an underwriter who will be held accountable for it. Therefore, one must carry out his or her job with a lot of attention and diligence.

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Are you searching for a fund manager job description? A fund manager is a stock market professional hired by a mutual fund company to manage the funds’ portfolio of numerous clients and oversee their trading activities. In an investment company, multiple managers oversee the clients’ money and make their respective decisions. 

Welding Engineer

Welding Engineer Job Description: A Welding Engineer work involves managing welding projects and supervising welding teams. He or she is responsible for reviewing welding procedures, processes and documentation. A career as Welding Engineer involves conducting failure analyses and causes on welding issues. 

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A career as Transportation Planner requires technical application of science and technology in engineering, particularly the concepts, equipment and technologies involved in the production of products and services. In fields like land use, infrastructure review, ecological standards and street design, he or she considers issues of health, environment and performance. A Transportation Planner assigns resources for implementing and designing programmes. He or she is responsible for assessing needs, preparing plans and forecasts and compliance with regulations.

Construction Manager

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Individuals who opt for a career as an environmental engineer are construction professionals who utilise the skills and knowledge of biology, soil science, chemistry and the concept of engineering to design and develop projects that serve as solutions to various environmental problems. 

Naval Architect

A Naval Architect is a professional who designs, produces and repairs safe and sea-worthy surfaces or underwater structures. A Naval Architect stays involved in creating and designing ships, ferries, submarines and yachts with implementation of various principles such as gravity, ideal hull form, buoyancy and stability. 

Field Surveyor

Are you searching for a Field Surveyor Job Description? A Field Surveyor is a professional responsible for conducting field surveys for various places or geographical conditions. He or she collects the required data and information as per the instructions given by senior officials. 

Highway Engineer

Highway Engineer Job Description:  A Highway Engineer is a civil engineer who specialises in planning and building thousands of miles of roads that support connectivity and allow transportation across the country. He or she ensures that traffic management schemes are effectively planned concerning economic sustainability and successful implementation.

Conservation Architect

A Conservation Architect is a professional responsible for conserving and restoring buildings or monuments having a historic value. He or she applies techniques to document and stabilise the object’s state without any further damage. A Conservation Architect restores the monuments and heritage buildings to bring them back to their original state.

Orthotist and Prosthetist

Orthotists and Prosthetists are professionals who provide aid to patients with disabilities. They fix them to artificial limbs (prosthetics) and help them to regain stability. There are times when people lose their limbs in an accident. In some other occasions, they are born without a limb or orthopaedic impairment. Orthotists and prosthetists play a crucial role in their lives with fixing them to assistive devices and provide mobility.

Veterinary Doctor

A veterinary doctor is a medical professional with a degree in veterinary science. The veterinary science qualification is the minimum requirement to become a veterinary doctor. There are numerous veterinary science courses offered by various institutes. He or she is employed at zoos to ensure they are provided with good health facilities and medical care to improve their life expectancy.

Pathologist

A career in pathology in India is filled with several responsibilities as it is a medical branch and affects human lives. The demand for pathologists has been increasing over the past few years as people are getting more aware of different diseases. Not only that, but an increase in population and lifestyle changes have also contributed to the increase in a pathologist’s demand. The pathology careers provide an extremely huge number of opportunities and if you want to be a part of the medical field you can consider being a pathologist. If you want to know more about a career in pathology in India then continue reading this article.

Speech Therapist

Gynaecologist.

Gynaecology can be defined as the study of the female body. The job outlook for gynaecology is excellent since there is evergreen demand for one because of their responsibility of dealing with not only women’s health but also fertility and pregnancy issues. Although most women prefer to have a women obstetrician gynaecologist as their doctor, men also explore a career as a gynaecologist and there are ample amounts of male doctors in the field who are gynaecologists and aid women during delivery and childbirth. 

An oncologist is a specialised doctor responsible for providing medical care to patients diagnosed with cancer. He or she uses several therapies to control the cancer and its effect on the human body such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and biopsy. An oncologist designs a treatment plan based on a pathology report after diagnosing the type of cancer and where it is spreading inside the body.

Audiologist

The audiologist career involves audiology professionals who are responsible to treat hearing loss and proactively preventing the relevant damage. Individuals who opt for a career as an audiologist use various testing strategies with the aim to determine if someone has a normal sensitivity to sounds or not. After the identification of hearing loss, a hearing doctor is required to determine which sections of the hearing are affected, to what extent they are affected, and where the wound causing the hearing loss is found. As soon as the hearing loss is identified, the patients are provided with recommendations for interventions and rehabilitation such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and appropriate medical referrals. While audiology is a branch of science that studies and researches hearing, balance, and related disorders.

Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Cardiothoracic surgeons are an important part of the surgical team. They usually work in hospitals, and perform emergency as well as scheduled operations. Some of the cardiothoracic surgeons also work in teaching hospitals working as teachers and guides for medical students aspiring to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. A career as a cardiothoracic surgeon involves treating and managing various types of conditions within their speciality that includes their presence at different locations such as outpatient clinics, team meetings, and ward rounds. 

For an individual who opts for a career as an actor, the primary responsibility is to completely speak to the character he or she is playing and to persuade the crowd that the character is genuine by connecting with them and bringing them into the story. This applies to significant roles and littler parts, as all roles join to make an effective creation. Here in this article, we will discuss how to become an actor in India, actor exams, actor salary in India, and actor jobs. 

Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats create and direct original routines for themselves, in addition to developing interpretations of existing routines. The work of circus acrobats can be seen in a variety of performance settings, including circus, reality shows, sports events like the Olympics, movies and commercials. Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats must be prepared to face rejections and intermittent periods of work. The creativity of acrobats may extend to other aspects of the performance. For example, acrobats in the circus may work with gym trainers, celebrities or collaborate with other professionals to enhance such performance elements as costume and or maybe at the teaching end of the career.

Video Game Designer

Career as a video game designer is filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. A video game designer is someone who is involved in the process of creating a game from day one. He or she is responsible for fulfilling duties like designing the character of the game, the several levels involved, plot, art and similar other elements. Individuals who opt for a career as a video game designer may also write the codes for the game using different programming languages.

Depending on the video game designer job description and experience they may also have to lead a team and do the early testing of the game in order to suggest changes and find loopholes.

Talent Agent

The career as a Talent Agent is filled with responsibilities. A Talent Agent is someone who is involved in the pre-production process of the film. It is a very busy job for a Talent Agent but as and when an individual gains experience and progresses in the career he or she can have people assisting him or her in work. Depending on one’s responsibilities, number of clients and experience he or she may also have to lead a team and work with juniors under him or her in a talent agency. In order to know more about the job of a talent agent continue reading the article.

If you want to know more about talent agent meaning, how to become a Talent Agent, or Talent Agent job description then continue reading this article.

Radio Jockey

Radio Jockey is an exciting, promising career and a great challenge for music lovers. If you are really interested in a career as radio jockey, then it is very important for an RJ to have an automatic, fun, and friendly personality. If you want to get a job done in this field, a strong command of the language and a good voice are always good things. Apart from this, in order to be a good radio jockey, you will also listen to good radio jockeys so that you can understand their style and later make your own by practicing.

A career as radio jockey has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. If you want to know more about a career as radio jockey, and how to become a radio jockey then continue reading the article.

Videographer

Careers in videography are art that can be defined as a creative and interpretive process that culminates in the authorship of an original work of art rather than a simple recording of a simple event. It would be wrong to portrait it as a subcategory of photography, rather photography is one of the crafts used in videographer jobs in addition to technical skills like organization, management, interpretation, and image-manipulation techniques. Students pursue Visual Media , Film, Television, Digital Video Production to opt for a videographer career path. The visual impacts of a film are driven by the creative decisions taken in videography jobs. Individuals who opt for a career as a videographer are involved in the entire lifecycle of a film and production. 

Multimedia Specialist

A multimedia specialist is a media professional who creates, audio, videos, graphic image files, computer animations for multimedia applications. He or she is responsible for planning, producing, and maintaining websites and applications. 

An individual who is pursuing a career as a producer is responsible for managing the business aspects of production. They are involved in each aspect of production from its inception to deception. Famous movie producers review the script, recommend changes and visualise the story. 

They are responsible for overseeing the finance involved in the project and distributing the film for broadcasting on various platforms. A career as a producer is quite fulfilling as well as exhaustive in terms of playing different roles in order for a production to be successful. Famous movie producers are responsible for hiring creative and technical personnel on contract basis.

Copy Writer

In a career as a copywriter, one has to consult with the client and understand the brief well. A career as a copywriter has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. Several new mediums of advertising are opening therefore making it a lucrative career choice. Students can pursue various copywriter courses such as Journalism , Advertising , Marketing Management . Here, we have discussed how to become a freelance copywriter, copywriter career path, how to become a copywriter in India, and copywriting career outlook. 

Careers in journalism are filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. One cannot afford to miss out on the details. As it is the small details that provide insights into a story. Depending on those insights a journalist goes about writing a news article. A journalism career can be stressful at times but if you are someone who is passionate about it then it is the right choice for you. If you want to know more about the media field and journalist career then continue reading this article.

For publishing books, newspapers, magazines and digital material, editorial and commercial strategies are set by publishers. Individuals in publishing career paths make choices about the markets their businesses will reach and the type of content that their audience will be served. Individuals in book publisher careers collaborate with editorial staff, designers, authors, and freelance contributors who develop and manage the creation of content.

In a career as a vlogger, one generally works for himself or herself. However, once an individual has gained viewership there are several brands and companies that approach them for paid collaboration. It is one of those fields where an individual can earn well while following his or her passion. 

Ever since internet costs got reduced the viewership for these types of content has increased on a large scale. Therefore, a career as a vlogger has a lot to offer. If you want to know more about the Vlogger eligibility, roles and responsibilities then continue reading the article. 

Individuals in the editor career path is an unsung hero of the news industry who polishes the language of the news stories provided by stringers, reporters, copywriters and content writers and also news agencies. Individuals who opt for a career as an editor make it more persuasive, concise and clear for readers. In this article, we will discuss the details of the editor's career path such as how to become an editor in India, editor salary in India and editor skills and qualities.

Fashion Journalist

Fashion journalism involves performing research and writing about the most recent fashion trends. Journalists obtain this knowledge by collaborating with stylists, conducting interviews with fashion designers, and attending fashion shows, photoshoots, and conferences. A fashion Journalist  job is to write copy for trade and advertisement journals, fashion magazines, newspapers, and online fashion forums about style and fashion.

Corporate Executive

Are you searching for a Corporate Executive job description? A Corporate Executive role comes with administrative duties. He or she provides support to the leadership of the organisation. A Corporate Executive fulfils the business purpose and ensures its financial stability. In this article, we are going to discuss how to become corporate executive.

Production Manager

Quality controller.

A quality controller plays a crucial role in an organisation. He or she is responsible for performing quality checks on manufactured products. He or she identifies the defects in a product and rejects the product. 

A quality controller records detailed information about products with defects and sends it to the supervisor or plant manager to take necessary actions to improve the production process.

Production Engineer

A career as a Production Engineer is crucial in the manufacturing industry. He or she ensures the functionality of production equipment and machinery to improve productivity and minimise production costs to drive revenues and increase profitability. 

Product Designer

Individuals who opt for a career as product designers are responsible for designing the components and overall product concerning its shape, size, and material used in manufacturing. They are responsible for the aesthetic appearance of the product. A product designer uses his or her creative skills to give a product its final outlook and ensures the functionality of the design. 

Students can opt for various product design degrees such as B.Des and M.Des to become product designers. Industrial product designer prepares 3D models of designs for approval and discusses them with clients and other colleagues. Individuals who opt for a career as a product designer estimate the total cost involved in designing.

Commercial Manager

A Commercial Manager negotiates, advises and secures information about pricing for commercial contracts. He or she is responsible for developing financial plans in order to maximise the business's profitability.

AWS Solution Architect

An AWS Solution Architect is someone who specializes in developing and implementing cloud computing systems. He or she has a good understanding of the various aspects of cloud computing and can confidently deploy and manage their systems. He or she troubleshoots the issues and evaluates the risk from the third party. 

Azure Administrator

An Azure Administrator is a professional responsible for implementing, monitoring, and maintaining Azure Solutions. He or she manages cloud infrastructure service instances and various cloud servers as well as sets up public and private cloud systems. 

Information Security Manager

Individuals in the information security manager career path involves in overseeing and controlling all aspects of computer security. The IT security manager job description includes planning and carrying out security measures to protect the business data and information from corruption, theft, unauthorised access, and deliberate attack 

Computer Programmer

Careers in computer programming primarily refer to the systematic act of writing code and moreover include wider computer science areas. The word 'programmer' or 'coder' has entered into practice with the growing number of newly self-taught tech enthusiasts. Computer programming careers involve the use of designs created by software developers and engineers and transforming them into commands that can be implemented by computers. These commands result in regular usage of social media sites, word-processing applications and browsers.

ITSM Manager

It consultant.

An IT Consultant is a professional who is also known as a technology consultant. He or she is required to provide consultation to industrial and commercial clients to resolve business and IT problems and acquire optimum growth. An IT consultant can find work by signing up with an IT consultancy firm, or he or she can work on their own as independent contractors and select the projects he or she wants to work on.

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How to Write About Coronavirus in a College Essay

Students can share how they navigated life during the coronavirus pandemic in a full-length essay or an optional supplement.

Writing About COVID-19 in College Essays

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Experts say students should be honest and not limit themselves to merely their experiences with the pandemic.

The global impact of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, means colleges and prospective students alike are in for an admissions cycle like no other. Both face unprecedented challenges and questions as they grapple with their respective futures amid the ongoing fallout of the pandemic.

Colleges must examine applicants without the aid of standardized test scores for many – a factor that prompted many schools to go test-optional for now . Even grades, a significant component of a college application, may be hard to interpret with some high schools adopting pass-fail classes last spring due to the pandemic. Major college admissions factors are suddenly skewed.

"I can't help but think other (admissions) factors are going to matter more," says Ethan Sawyer, founder of the College Essay Guy, a website that offers free and paid essay-writing resources.

College essays and letters of recommendation , Sawyer says, are likely to carry more weight than ever in this admissions cycle. And many essays will likely focus on how the pandemic shaped students' lives throughout an often tumultuous 2020.

But before writing a college essay focused on the coronavirus, students should explore whether it's the best topic for them.

Writing About COVID-19 for a College Application

Much of daily life has been colored by the coronavirus. Virtual learning is the norm at many colleges and high schools, many extracurriculars have vanished and social lives have stalled for students complying with measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"For some young people, the pandemic took away what they envisioned as their senior year," says Robert Alexander, dean of admissions, financial aid and enrollment management at the University of Rochester in New York. "Maybe that's a spot on a varsity athletic team or the lead role in the fall play. And it's OK for them to mourn what should have been and what they feel like they lost, but more important is how are they making the most of the opportunities they do have?"

That question, Alexander says, is what colleges want answered if students choose to address COVID-19 in their college essay.

But the question of whether a student should write about the coronavirus is tricky. The answer depends largely on the student.

"In general, I don't think students should write about COVID-19 in their main personal statement for their application," Robin Miller, master college admissions counselor at IvyWise, a college counseling company, wrote in an email.

"Certainly, there may be exceptions to this based on a student's individual experience, but since the personal essay is the main place in the application where the student can really allow their voice to be heard and share insight into who they are as an individual, there are likely many other topics they can choose to write about that are more distinctive and unique than COVID-19," Miller says.

Opinions among admissions experts vary on whether to write about the likely popular topic of the pandemic.

"If your essay communicates something positive, unique, and compelling about you in an interesting and eloquent way, go for it," Carolyn Pippen, principal college admissions counselor at IvyWise, wrote in an email. She adds that students shouldn't be dissuaded from writing about a topic merely because it's common, noting that "topics are bound to repeat, no matter how hard we try to avoid it."

Above all, she urges honesty.

"If your experience within the context of the pandemic has been truly unique, then write about that experience, and the standing out will take care of itself," Pippen says. "If your experience has been generally the same as most other students in your context, then trying to find a unique angle can easily cross the line into exploiting a tragedy, or at least appearing as though you have."

But focusing entirely on the pandemic can limit a student to a single story and narrow who they are in an application, Sawyer says. "There are so many wonderful possibilities for what you can say about yourself outside of your experience within the pandemic."

He notes that passions, strengths, career interests and personal identity are among the multitude of essay topic options available to applicants and encourages them to probe their values to help determine the topic that matters most to them – and write about it.

That doesn't mean the pandemic experience has to be ignored if applicants feel the need to write about it.

Writing About Coronavirus in Main and Supplemental Essays

Students can choose to write a full-length college essay on the coronavirus or summarize their experience in a shorter form.

To help students explain how the pandemic affected them, The Common App has added an optional section to address this topic. Applicants have 250 words to describe their pandemic experience and the personal and academic impact of COVID-19.

"That's not a trick question, and there's no right or wrong answer," Alexander says. Colleges want to know, he adds, how students navigated the pandemic, how they prioritized their time, what responsibilities they took on and what they learned along the way.

If students can distill all of the above information into 250 words, there's likely no need to write about it in a full-length college essay, experts say. And applicants whose lives were not heavily altered by the pandemic may even choose to skip the optional COVID-19 question.

"This space is best used to discuss hardship and/or significant challenges that the student and/or the student's family experienced as a result of COVID-19 and how they have responded to those difficulties," Miller notes. Using the section to acknowledge a lack of impact, she adds, "could be perceived as trite and lacking insight, despite the good intentions of the applicant."

To guard against this lack of awareness, Sawyer encourages students to tap someone they trust to review their writing , whether it's the 250-word Common App response or the full-length essay.

Experts tend to agree that the short-form approach to this as an essay topic works better, but there are exceptions. And if a student does have a coronavirus story that he or she feels must be told, Alexander encourages the writer to be authentic in the essay.

"My advice for an essay about COVID-19 is the same as my advice about an essay for any topic – and that is, don't write what you think we want to read or hear," Alexander says. "Write what really changed you and that story that now is yours and yours alone to tell."

Sawyer urges students to ask themselves, "What's the sentence that only I can write?" He also encourages students to remember that the pandemic is only a chapter of their lives and not the whole book.

Miller, who cautions against writing a full-length essay on the coronavirus, says that if students choose to do so they should have a conversation with their high school counselor about whether that's the right move. And if students choose to proceed with COVID-19 as a topic, she says they need to be clear, detailed and insightful about what they learned and how they adapted along the way.

"Approaching the essay in this manner will provide important balance while demonstrating personal growth and vulnerability," Miller says.

Pippen encourages students to remember that they are in an unprecedented time for college admissions.

"It is important to keep in mind with all of these (admission) factors that no colleges have ever had to consider them this way in the selection process, if at all," Pippen says. "They have had very little time to calibrate their evaluations of different application components within their offices, let alone across institutions. This means that colleges will all be handling the admissions process a little bit differently, and their approaches may even evolve over the course of the admissions cycle."

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  • Published: 01 February 2022

Persuasive narrative during the COVID-19 pandemic: Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s posts on Facebook

  • Sanjana Arora   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-0107-7061 1 ,
  • Jonas Debesay 2 &
  • Hande Eslen-Ziya   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-7113-6771 1  

Humanities and Social Sciences Communications volume  9 , Article number:  35 ( 2022 ) Cite this article

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  • Cultural and media studies
  • Politics and international relations

This article explores the Facebook posts of Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg to highlight the key features of her crisis communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. It draws on data from Solberg’s Facebook posts from February 27, 2020 to February 9, 2021 (i.e., starting from the day when the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Norway until the time of data collection for this study). Out of her 271 posts, 157 of them were about COVID-19 and were chosen for analysis. The analyses identified five major themes: (1) Promoting responsibility and togetherness (2) Coping (3) Being in control amidst uncertainty (4) Fostering hope and (5) Relating with the followers. Drawing inspiration from Boin, Stern and Sundelius’, work on persuasive narratives, this study shows the ways that Solberg’s posts about COVID-19 exhibit all five identified frame functions. In addition, the findings add contextual nuances to the frame functions through the theme of ‘Responsibilization and togetherness’, which are reflected through references to Norwegianness and the cultural concept and practice of dugnad . This study adds to our knowledge about how persuasive narratives are incorporated into the social media communication strategies of leaders and highlights the usefulness of this framework for studying ongoing and future crises.

Introduction

The economic and social disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is having major impacts on people’s livelihoods and their health. As of 18 April 2021, there have been 140,322,903 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections and 3,003,794 deaths (WHO, 2021 ), making the COVID-19 pandemic an unprecedented global health crisis of the century. As countries across the world grapple with mitigating the risks associated with the pandemic, communication—an essential component of planning, response, and recovery during crisis (Houston et al., 2014 )—has been one of the integral parts of the crisis management (Reddy and Gupta, 2020 ). Crisis communication highlights legitimation strategies, but also indicates how government institutions themselves make sense of crises (Brandt and Wörlein, 2020 ). Moreover, crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic can disrupt the socio-political order of societies, leaving a cognitive void in the minds of the public that can be filled with fear and uncertainty (Boin et al., 2016 ). In Norway, COVID-19 has been called a fear-driven pandemic that is based on alarming information of long-term illness and disability that is out of politicians control (Vogt and Pahle, 2020 ). Having control over the dramaturgy of political communication is thus central to effective leadership and crisis management (Boin et al., 2016 ). Effective communication can help societies handle uncertainty and promote adherence to behaviour change while fostering hope among the citizens (Finset et al., 2020 ).

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rapidly evolve, and social media plays a pivotal role in meeting the communication needs of the public during such crisis (Van Dijck, 2013 ). As social media use increases during crises, leaders and public officials may utilise this platform to communicate, which in return helps reduce public panic and builds trust (Kavanaugh et al., 2012 ). As a result of the cultural and symbolic value of social media in contemporary times (Jenzen et al., 2021 ), the communication of public leaders in the midst of uncertainty and fear facilitates interpersonal and group interaction. Research has shown that, when compared to the traditional media platforms, social media platforms are used by leaders and elected officials to communicate, inform, and engage with their citizens (Golbeck et al., 2010 ). They use social media to spread messages farther and faster than it would be possible with traditional media (Sutton et al., 2013 ). What leaders post on social media can give insights into their communication and leadership strategies during crises. Understanding how leaders communicate with the public during crises will not only provide us with the knowledge about their governance styles but will also guide us to their meaning-making in times of uncertainty. Based on this assumption we will be studying the Facebook posts of Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, with the aim to highlight the key features of her communication. In doing so, we will take an exploratory rather than confirmatory perspective (Boudreau et al., 2001 ).

Solberg, member of the Conservative Party and in power since 2013, was defeated by the centre-left as this paper was being revised. Solberg has had a long career in politics, becoming a deputy representative to the Bergen City Council in 1979 when she was 18 years old. She was elected to the Parliament in 1989 where she was the youngest member of her party group (Notaker and Tvedt, 2021 ). Solberg’s tough stance on issues such as immigration earned her the nickname of ‘Jern-Erna’ [Iron Erna] (Reuters, 2013 ). However, upon her appointment as Prime Minister, Solberg displayed a ‘softer side’ by caring about voters’ jobs, health, and schools (Notaker and Tvedt, 2021 ).

The first Norwegian COVID-19 patient was diagnosed on February 26, 2020. While the initial spread of infection was relatively slow, cases increased quickly by March 12 th , after winter break for schools ended and many Norwegians returned from skiing holidays in Northern Italy (Dagsavisen, 2020 ). On March 12, the Norwegian Directorate of Health (NDH) adopted comprehensive measures to prevent the spread, which included closing day care centres, schools, and educational institutions. The measures also included a ban on cultural events, closed swimming gyms and pools, a halt to all service provisions that involved being less than one meter away from another person, and prohibiting visits to recreational cabins Footnote 1 , among others. Behavioural measures such as recommendations to keep physical distance, encourage handwashing, quarantine, stay home when ill, work from home, and avoid public transportation were also included. Following the lockdown, Norway became the first European country to announce that the situation was under control due to low levels of hospitalizations and mortalities (Christensen and Lægreid, 2020 ). In Norway, as of March 22, 2021, there have been over eighty thousand confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and more than six hundred deaths due to COVID-19. Norway has had far fewer COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations per capita than most other countries in Western Europe or the United States (Christensen and Lægreid, 2020 ). Compared to its Scandinavian neighbours Denmark and Sweden, the proportion of cases of infections and deaths have been much lower (WHO, 2021 ), despite the three countries sharing similar social welfare and healthcare systems. Recently, a report submitted by the Corona Committee in Norway also concluded that the overall handling of the crisis by the government has been good. Not only has the number of infections and deaths in Norway been much lower than most countries in Europe, but the healthcare services have also remained stable, and society has remained relatively open (Lund, 2021 ). It is probable that good governance and responsible leadership demonstrated by the Norwegian cabinet and Prime Minister Erna Solberg contributed to this success.

In Norway, there is considerably less focus on individualization of candidates in political parties as compared to for instance the US, since the electoral system in Norway is based on proportional representation (Karlsen and Enjolras, 2016 ). Despite this, with the presence of digital and social media, there has been increasing focus on the individual candidates, leading to ‘decentralising personalisation’ (Karlsen and Enjolras, 2016 ; Balmas et al., 2014 ). Given this context, Erna Solberg’s Facebook account during the COVID-19 pandemic serves as an intermediary platform between the government’s role and her own personal profile as the Prime Minister who has been handling the COVID-19 crisis. Solberg has used Facebook more actively than other outlets like Twitter and has more followers on Facebook than any other platform. The proportion of Facebook users in Norway vis-a-vis other social media platform is also the highest (for example, 84% of people use Facebook compared to 22% who use Twitter who use Twitter) (Werliin and Kokholm, 2016 ). Facebook thus serves as an important platform for public leaders in Norway during crises, and therefore, by analysing Solberg’s Facebook posts, we aim to demonstrate the key features of her communication strategy during the COVID-19 crisis.

Background on crisis and crisis communication

Crisis is defined as a rare, and significant public situation creating undesirable consequences (Coombs, 2015 ; Gruber et al., 2015 ). In most cases it is ‘an unpredictable event that threatens important expectancies of stakeholders and can seriously impact an organization’s performance and generate negative outcomes’ (Coombs, 2015 : p. 3). Crisis communication on the other hand is referred as the strategies used to lessen the uncertainties during crisis via the dissemination and exchange of information (Collins et al., 2016 ). Effective crisis communication establishes reliability and maintains public trust. It should be frequent, consistent and involve compassionate messages conveyed in an inspired and transformational communication style. It is essential that public officials and leaders when communicating crisis relevant information be efficient and informative. Past research has shown the importance of repetition of the consistent interaction to help the message reach the recipients clearly and increase compliance behaviour in cases of crisis (Stephens et al., 2013 ). Inconsistent messages on the other hand were found to cause misperception and confusion, leading to a non-compliant behaviour by the recipients. The content of the message as well as its tone is also an important indicator of whether the recipients will comply or not (Sutton et al., 2013 ). Sources of crisis communication, such as leaders and public health officials, are perceived to be reliable and trustworthy when they exhibit concern and care (Heath and O’ Hair, 2010 ). In addition, they can be more effective in building relationship with the public, if they consider the cultural factors that play a role in their communicating about risks (Aldoory, 2010 ).

Boin et al. ( 2016 ) argue that crisis communication is one of the key challenges, which leaders face during a crisis situation. During crisis communication, leaders are required to frame ‘meaning’ of the crisis in order to shape how public perceives the risks, consequences and how they respond to the measures being taken. Developing a persuasive narrative in communication is thus integral to succesful framing of the crisis and for a strategic leadership. The construction of a successful persuasive narrative requires five frame functions: namely that the narrative will offer a credible explanation of what happened, it will provide guidance, instil hope, show empathy, and suggest that leaders are in control (Boin et al., 2016 ). In doing so, leaders aid the public’s understanding of the facts associated with crisis while sumltaneously acknolwedging and appealing to collective emotions. In incorporating these frame functions, leaders are posed with various choices and decision-making such as how they choose to or not choose to dramatise the situation, the language that they use and how they appeal to the colleactive emotions and stress.

As digital media technologies became popular resources for getting and spreading information, public officials and leaders also increasingly started using them as domains during the crises. In fact, for some scholars the use of social media while enabling mutual interaction between the leaders and recipients has altered the field of crisis communication altogether. For instance, it was found that as social media enables constant and effective communication, it was used more regularly than traditional media outlets during crisis (Kim and Liu, 2012 ). Similarly, Utz et al. ( 2013 ) discussed how for effective crisis communication strategy, the use of media channels, social media—Twitter, and Facebook—versus traditional— newspapers—was more critical than the type of the crisis. Moreover, Schultz et al. ( 2011 ) concluded that when compared to traditional media networks, crisis communication received less negative response when social media was used. Hence, it is not to our surprise that public officials nowadays are turning to social media platforms for communicating with the masses during crisis. They not only use these tools to communicate about crisis but also request information from the public. This was the case during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis where social media was employed by political leaders across the globe to mediate the communication of information about the pandemic as well as for reaching out to their citizens. This paper by focusing on the Norwegian case and more specifically on the Norwegian Prime Minister’s Facebook use during the time of COVID-19 pandemic aims to explore the use of social media platforms by political leaders during crisis. Our goal is to better understand how political leaders adapt social media technologies in their communication strategies during crises.

Our data that covers Erna Solberg’s Facebook posts between February 27, 2020, and February 10, 2021 (a total of 271 posts) were extracted from Footnote 2 into an Excel sheet. A total of 114 posts were removed as they were not related to COVID-19 leaving us 157 posts for further analysis. To aid the coding process, we noted the variables presented in Table 1 . These are: date, number of interactions, number, and type of reactions (e.g., angry, sad, like, etc.), URLs of links shared, and a description of the content of the posts that was later used in the qualitative analysis. We also noted if the posts were made during any particularly critical period (e.g., before, during or after new restrictive measures were introduced). The content of the posts and the number of likes and other reactions derived from this data should be considered a ‘snapshot’ of Solberg’s posts as they appeared at the time of data collection (Brügger, 2013 ), as it is possible that some posts have been subsequently removed, or that the numbers and types of reactions to the posts have changed by the publication date

The data was analysed through thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006 ): in the first step, we read all posts and generated the first set of codes. Next, we combined all the similar codes while labelling them in clusters and organised them into analytical themes/categories (see Fig. 1 ). The authors then discussed and reviewed these analytical themes and merged them into aggregate/conceptual themes. Lastly, we reviewed the aggregate themes through the lens of the five frame functions of persuasive narrative and identified commonalities and differences. We have included some posts under each theme to illustrate our analytical process and illuminate the themes (Sandelowski, 1994 ). All posts presented here were translated from Norwegian to English by the authors.

figure 1

Schematic formulation of a theme from the categories captured in posts.

Our analysis resulted in five themes: (1) Promoting responsibility and togetherness (2) Coping (3) Being in control amidst uncertainty (4) Fostering hope and (5) Relating with the followers. In reviewing our findings from the framework of Boin et al. ( 2016 ), we found that all five frame functions of persuasive narrative were embedded in Solberg’s posts and aligned with our themes. Below we discuss our themes with reference to frame functions of Boin et al. ( 2016 ) for a persuasive narrative and in doing so, add contextual nuances to each theme.

Promoting responsibility and togetherness: we are in this together

Analysis of Solberg’s posts revealed a strong message of responsibility and togetherness. In almost all shares, she not only emphasized solidarity but also called for courage and responsibility. This Facebook post, shared soon after comprehensive shut-down measures were introduced, shows how important, for Solberg, was Norwegian solidarity expressed as ‘we’ (March 12, 2020):

Dear everyone. In times of crisis, we understand how dependent we are on each other. What unites us is more important than what separates us. This is not the time for ‘I’. This is the time for ‘we’.

Lunn et al. ( 2020 ) note that citizens are isolated during government induced or self-imposed quarantines: appeals to collective action and a spirit of ‘we-are-in-it-together’ are important ways to ensure compliance with quarantine and hence curb the rate of infection. Leaders in countries such New Zealand, UK, Brazil have also been found to have used a similar narrative emphasizing patriotic duty, love of country, and coming together as one, to mobilise community action (Dada et al., 2021 ).

Her posts were also imbued with appreciation and expression of gratitude towards healthcare workers and those who follow rules. For example, after introduction of the ban to travel to cabins and after the government’s decision to extend regulations until after Easter, Solberg posted the following on April 4, 2020, receiving a high number of likes:

I feel proud when I see how we handle this together. Many thanks to everyone who follows the advice from the health authorities. Many thanks to everyone in the health service who works hard and perseveres. Many thanks to all Norwegians for the patience, love and solidarity we now show each other

The use of the word ‘I’ and how it was being used in reference to ‘feel[ing] proud’, we argue, highlights the ‘positioning of self’ by Solberg. Davies and Harré ( 1990 ) claim that development of the notion of ‘positioning’ is a contribution to the understanding of personhood, and how speakers choose to position their personal identity vis-a-vis their discontinuous personal diversity (such as being the Prime Minister, politician, Norwegian citizen, etc.). In such posts, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we also see the discursive practices through which Solberg allocates meaning to her position as a Prime Minister by emphasising that she feels proud upon seeing those who follow advice. At the same time, her emphasis on ‘we’, as in how ‘ we handle this together’, places her as a member of the Norwegian masses.

Moreover, such references to togetherness and solidarity also reflect attempts to utilise the existing nationalistic cultural repertoire of the Norwegian concept of dugnad . For example, on New Year’s Day following the Gjerdrum community disaster (a sudden and unexpected mudslide that destroyed several residential houses) and rise in the number of infections during the holiday period (2125 reported cases on December 29, 2020), Solberg posted the following post:

[…] During the year we have put behind us, Norway has lined up for the big dugnad . People have put their interests and dreams on hold to protect the elderly and the risk groups. It has saved lives. I am deeply grateful, proud and touched, for the way the Norwegian people have handled the biggest challenge for our society since World War II. We lined up for each other when it mattered most…

Dugnad in Norwegian is voluntary work that is performed as a collective effort (Moss and Sandbakken, 2021 ). Nilsen and Skarpenes ( 2020 ) discuss how the concept of dugnad is embedded in a moral repertoire of the socially responsible citizen that is indicative of a specifically Norwegian welfare mentality and conclude that dugnad is imperative for the sustainability and resilience of the Norwegian welfare model. Before the pandemic, Simon and Mobekk ( 2019 ) argued that the concept of dugnad is central to Norwegian culture, inculcating prosocial and cooperative behaviour, and thereby plays a role in Norway being one of the most egalitarian democracies and having high levels of equality and reciprocity. In the context of COVID-19, social anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen ( 2020 ) pointed out that one reason for the success of the Norwegian approach was the mobilisation of broader society to fight COVID-19, driven by the notion of dugnad . Similarly, Moss and Sandbakken ( 2021 ) analysed data from press conferences and interviews with members of the public and found that many participants mentioned liking how the government talked of ‘a spirit of dugnad ’ ( dugnadsånd ), appealing to shared voluntary work rather than strict rules. The authors posit that in a pandemic it is crucial to create and use meta-narratives that are a good fit with the context in order to aid meaning-making and increase compliance. The use of dugnad as a cultural repertoire has, however, met with criticism from some scholars, who argue that ‘a word associated with solidarity, unity, and voluntary work obscures the forced nature of the measures’ (Tjora, 2020 ) and shifts the onus for finding solutions onto individual citizens or groups (Nilsen and Skarpenes, 2020 ; Hungnes, 2016 ).

Despite the criticism of imbibing such cultural repertoire, the alignment of the key values of Norwegian society with the core message of encouraging collective action is essential for a crisis narrative to be politically effective (Boin et al., 2016 ). Furthermore, the theme of ‘Promoting responsibility and togetherness’ shows the context specific nature of crisis communication narrative in the case of COVID-19 in Norway and therefore adds to the components for a persuasive narrative.

Coping: everything will be fine

Solberg’s Footnote 3 posts also carried messages that address the consequences of coping with COVID-19, namely self-isolation, and loneliness. For instance, her posts guided followers in dealing with loneliness and maintaining general physical and mental health. The Norwegian government, like that of many other countries, had introduced measures such as mandatory quarantine and social distancing rules to manage the spread of the virus. Studies have shown that home confinement during COVID-19 has negatively affected the emotional state of individuals due to depression and anxiety and has led to or increased a sedentary lifestyle (Sang et al., 2020 ). Thus, emphasis on the well-being of the population during COVID-19 is important for effective crisis management (WHO, 2020a ) because increased well-being would reinforce its coping abilities during illness and hardships. As these are not the direct effects of the COVID-19 infection, but a result of the contagion containment measures imposed on citizens by the government, we observe Solberg taking responsibility and providing solutions to help. In doing so, she appears sensitive and caring towards the public.

Christensen and Lægreid ( 2020 ) attribute the ‘high-performing’ handling of the pandemic in Norway to the initial focus on suppression, followed by a control strategy. The authors further examine the ideas that having successful communication with the public, a collaborative and pragmatic decision-making style, the country’s resourcefulness, and high trust of government all contributed to the relative success in Norway. Adopting the correct and effective strategy indeed heavily influences the outcomes of crises. However, to fill the ‘cognitive void’ that the public might be experiencing, leaders need to manage the meaning-making process and ensure legitimacy of their actions (Boin et al., 2016 ). Solberg and the other ministers played an important role in communicating with citizens and the media through daily media briefings together with the NDH (Norwegian Directorate of Health) and NIPH (Norwegian Institute of Public Health) (Christensen and Lægreid, 2020 )

Solberg emphasized the impact of loneliness, for example, during one of the first holiday periods during the pandemic when comprehensive shut-down measures were introduced, she wrote:

Many people may feel lonely during holidays such as Easter, and the corona crisis exacerbates this. Therefore, I would like to encourage everyone to call someone you know is alone at Easter. The little things can mean a lot. Happy Easter!

A study by Blix et al. ( 2021 ) on the topic of mental health in the Norwegian population during the COVID-19 pandemic found that a substantial proportion of the population experienced significant psychological distress in the early phases. More than one out of four reported ongoing psychological distress over the threshold for clinically significant symptoms. Two other categories of individuals (those recently exposed to violence and those with pre-existing mental health problems) were found to be at special risk but worrying about the consequences of the pandemic was also found to contribute negatively to mental health. In this regard, Shah et al. ( 2020 ) argued that several nations have failed to address the mental health aspect among the public, as far more effort is being focused on understanding the epidemiology, clinical features, transmission patterns, and management of COVID-19. Solberg’s open discussion about mental health during the pandemic implies a situation-specific and data-driven strategy of managing the less visible effects of the pandemic and show insight in anticipating future needs (Han et al., 2020 ).

Moreover, Solberg’s posts also subtly utilised the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv , which translates as ‘free air life,’ a philosophy of outdoor living and connection with nature (Henderson and Vikander 2007 ). Friluftsliv is associated with grand narratives of Norwegian national identity depicting outdoor adventures, foraging, and a deep connection to nature (Jørgensen-Vittersø, 2021 ). For example, with the re-opening of DNT [Den Norske Turistforening] cabins in mid-2020, Solberg in her post on June 11 emphasized the importance of being outdoors in fresh air:

We need to use our bodies and get out into the light and fresh air. It is important for both physical and mental health! I hope many have a good and active Norwegian holiday this year!

In these posts, Solberg also shared pictures of herself being outdoors. In such ways, Solberg appeared to be offering not only guidance for coping with the challenges and consequences of living during the pandemic, but also emphasizing one characteristic of the Norwegian culture, which they are proud of—spending time in nature. Be it advice to spend time in nature, or to keep social distance or self-isolation, we consider that Solberg’s approach to coping aligns with the frame function of ‘offering guidance’. During a crisis, leaders have a window of opportunity during which they can communicate a frame to not only make sense of the crisis but also to provide guidance and to portray themselves as attentive and concerned about the challenging circumstances faced by the public (Boin et al., 2016 ). By depicting herself as attuned to the emotions experienced by her followers during the pandemic and by utilising the moment to suggest ways of coping, Solberg’s communication encapsulates the frame function of offering guidance for a persuasive narrative.

Being in control amidst uncertainty

In her posts, Solberg presented a narrative of being in control amidst uncertainty, which aligns with two of the frame functions of Boin et al. ( 2016 ), namely offering a credible explanation and suggesting that leaders are in control. In times of a crisis, it is important that leaders do not downplay the gravity of the situation or claim unrealistically optimistic scenarios (Boin et al., 2016 ). We see that Solberg maintained a balance by providing a detailed explanation of her actions and the reasons behind the restrictive measures taken. At the same time, she acknowledged the uncertainty inherent in the ever-changing crisis and demonstrated her concern. According to Lunn et al. ( 2020 ), in situations characterised by uncertainty and fear, responsible leaders need to signal that they are in control of the situation, which can be demonstrated by making decisions with confidence and honesty. Moreover, it is also essential that leaders do not make promises that are impossible or unrealistic, because doing that can impede the persuasiveness of their narrative by affecting their credibility later (Boin et al., 2016 ). In Solberg’s posts, we see that she displays confidence but also the reality of uncertainty and concern, which is a sign of effective leadership and shows ‘bounded optimism’ (Brassey and Kruyt, 2020 ). The following post where she writes about her worries and concerns followed by advice is a good example of credibility and control:

I am worried. Right now, we have ongoing outbreaks in Bergen, Oslo, Trondheim and Hammerfest… We know that vigorous work is being done intensively in these municipalities with infection detection and other measures. Although Norway has relatively low infection rates, we also register here at home that the number of hospital admissions and the number of infected have increased recently. We now have the highest number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 since May… We also see that the infection has begun to spread to older age groups. And there is a significant risk that the numbers will continue to rise as we see in Europe. That is why we have today announced new national austerity measures next week. We can still reverse the trend here at home…

A demonstration of concern from role models has been shown to have a role in persuading the public to adhere to recommendations (Simon and Mobekk, 2019 ). Tannenbaum et al. ( 2015 ) note that fear is easier to handle when it is acknowledged, which relates to the idea of ‘citizens being anxious enough to take the advice from the authorities to heart and optimistic enough as to feel that their actions make a difference’ (Petersen, 2020 ). Inculcating ‘optimistic anxiety’ (Tannenbaum et al., 2015 ) is therefore an important feature of crisis communication narratives.

Another important nuance that emerges from Solberg’s posts is her comparisons to other countries to draw attention to the seriousness of the situation. For example, on November 5, 2020, Solberg made the following post announcing new national measures, which received over 5000 likes:

My message to the Norwegian people is: Stay at home as much as possible. Have the least possible social contact with others. It is absolutely necessary to avoid a new shutdown. Norway is at the beginning of the second wave of infection… The virus is spreading rapidly and all counties now have outbreaks. The government is therefore introducing new national infection control measures… If the current rate of infection continues, the number of inpatients in intensive care units will increase sharply in the coming weeks. This will lead to less intensive capacity for other seriously ill people. We are now where the Netherlands was at the beginning of September. A very rapid increase in infection in the Netherlands quickly led to more patients in the intensive care unit… Other European countries have similar experiences. There is therefore a heavy seriousness about the situation. And we must take responsibility together

By giving detailed reasoning behind measures being taken amidst uncertainty, Solberg exhibits both confidence and honesty in her narratives (Lunn et al., 2020 ). Another key feature that emerges from the post above is the emphasis on the risks of an increase in infection, and the possibility of a new lockdown and overburdening of intensive care capacity, thereby reflecting a more strongly persuasive intent. Such emphasis on the risks is different from other posts where Solberg exhibits control and optimism much more strongly. This adaption from a communicative stance to a more persuasive one could result from not only the perceived severity of the situation, but also the perceived risks of pandemic fatigue. Pandemic fatigue has been defined by the WHO as a lack of motivation to adhere to recommended protective behaviours (WHO, 2020b ). According to surveys conducted in different countries, most people have been shown to possess adequate knowledge of COVID-19 and the precautions required to keep safe, yet factors like emotions and context have been found to have greater impact on behaviours than knowledge (Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, 2020 ). A study of different ways of communicating healthcare messages suggested that believability of the messages and the recipients’ reactions to them can be influenced by the persuasive intent (Wang and Shen, 2019 ). Koh et al. ( 2020 ) also discuss the importance of devising effective and successful communications for a sustained period without message fatigue setting in, which includes concern for the way the communication is framed. Overall, we see that Solberg’s posts provide a rationale with portrayal of the government being in control of managing the crisis.

Fostering hope and return to normalcy

Solberg’s posts also emphasized the hopeful aspects of the crisis by appealing to followers to look forward to a return to everyday life, and new educational and economic prospects, despite the difficult current circumstances. This theme aligns with the frame of ‘instilling hope’ as per frame functions for a persuasive narrative by Boin et al. ( 2016 ). During a crisis, more than ever, effective leaders embody the hopes and fears of the society under threat, and therefore they should strive to inculcate optimism of a better future (Boin et al., 2016 ). Previous research has documented that in times of turmoil, followers especially look up to leadership that serves as a beacon of hope for and faith in a positive future, more than they do in times of prosperity (Stam et al., 2018 ; Shamir et al., 1993 ). According to Boin et al., leadership during crisis always has a moral dimension. On January 10, 2021, by which time Norway had witnessed over 50000 cases of infection and over 400 deaths as well as the Gjerdrum disaster, Solberg made the following post:

Dear everyone. This year I hope we can take our dreams back. After a year of pandemic and fear. Then I look forward to seeing creativity unleashed…

Another post that emphasized the optimism for educational prospects was made on April 15, 2020, and drew over 5000 likes:

Today is the last deadline to apply to a vocational school, college or university. I understand that it can feel strange to apply for an education this autumn while the educational institutions keep their campuses closed. Maybe someone also thinks the idea of moving from home to a new city seems extra scary these days. To you I want to say that everyday life will return. Therefore, my appeal to you who want to study: do not put your life on hold, but apply for education this year!

Lessons from previous crises tell us that leaders need to pay attention to the fear of the ongoing threat, as well as sadness and grief, and to provide hope to mitigate social disruption (Maak et al., 2021 ). Here, we see that Solberg’s is attempting to convey hope while also acknowledging the challenges and impact of COVID-19. In doing so, the messages also emphasise self-efficacy and trust in the government. Hope and resilience are closely aligned constructs, as they both include a tendency towards maintaining an optimistic outlook in the face of adversity (Duggal et al., 2016 ). Thus, fostering hope during crisis can help the community cope with the consequences of the crisis. Moreover, by using emotional appeals, leaders can influence attitudes and behaviours as well as induce compassion (Ghio et al., 2020 ).

The theme of fostering hope in Solberg’s posts was found to be particularly emphasized during and before national holidays or important events. Her posts often utilised humour to foster positivity, particularly during critical periods such as during or after implementation of stricter COVID-19 measures. For example, a day after it was announced that infection-reduction measures would continue throughout Christmas, Solberg shared a snipped of her response to a question asked in a press conference and posted:

Can Santa actually come to visit this year?

Creating human moments and hope is a sign of compassionate leadership and helps to establish the relational foundation for widespread support for pandemic control measures (Maak et al., 2021 ). Also, by utilising humour, Solberg adapts the tone of her messages, a tactic that has been found to significantly affect audiences’ attitudes and behaviours, help people manage their emotions, and strengthen support for pandemic measures (Lee and Basnyat, 2013 )

Relating with followers

The last theme is about the posts in which Solberg relates to the public by providing personal information, acknowledging, and relating with the difficult circumstances, and using humour or a private tone in her posts. For example, the post below was made just before Easter and it received more than 13000 likes, making it to be the third-most liked post of Solberg related to COVID-19 during this period.

It will be a different Easter this year. Let’s make the best of it. We can play fun board games with our loved ones, read the book we never have time to read, listen to an audiobook or explore the local area. The last few weeks have been challenging for all of us, but we want to get through this… Sindre and I have recharged with board games and wish you all a very happy Easter!

Empathy is an important component of the persuasive narrative, especially during crises when the decisions made by authorities to mitigate, and control can also have consequences for people’s lives. For crisis communication to be effective, the information provided to the public should not be too factual or portray leaders as distant from the citizens (Shen, 2010 ; Lunn et al., 2020 ). By demonstrating concern and acknowledging the impact of crises, leaders can empathise with the public (Shen, 2010 ; Lunn et al., 2020 ). We see Solberg personifying the challenges of COVID-19 by referring to how the times have been challenging for ‘all of us’. According to Boin et al. ( 2016 ), a leader’s personification of suffering is instrumental in showing empathy because the public is then able to relate to them.

Further, previously in a study by Larsson ( 2015 ) about Norwegian party leaders on Facebook during the 2013 ‘short campaign’, it was found that personal content referencing private life is increasingly employed by Norwegian party leaders. Enli and Rosenberg ( 2018 ) investigated voters’ evaluations of politicians as authentic or ‘real,’ and Solberg was found to be one of the most perceived authentic politicians. Enli ( 2014 ) had earlier suggested that Erna Solberg’s public profile as predictable, anti-elitist and imperfect constructs her authenticity.

A similar example of relatability with followers during the pandemic was the instance when she forgot the rule of not shaking hands during public meetups and press conferences. After the event, she wrote:

It is important that we can have some humour in a difficult time Even a prime minister can forget, but now it is important that we all remember to follow the advice of the health authorities…

She also used an engaging communicative style when interacting with her followers:

Then the holiday is over… a different summer, a little cold, weekly meetings in the Government’s Corona Committee on video, beautiful nature experiences from Norway and a lot of rain. Let me share a wonderful little meeting with a lynx on the lawn on Varaldsøy… Have you had a nice summer?

Thus, Solberg embeds references to her private life, which also helps to personify the messages in her posts and thus relate with the public. In addition, by relating with the public on an everyday basis and through the acknowledgment of shared challenges during crisis, Solberg’s narrative also appears empathetic. Our theme of ‘Relating to the public’ thus encapsulates frame function of ‘showing empathy’ for developing a persuasive narrative, as per Boin et al. ( 2016 ).

Concluding remarks

This paper was an attempt to explore the Facebook posts of Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg to highlight the key features of her crisis communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. By drawing on data from Solberg’s Facebook posts during the pandemic our analyses identified five major themes, (1) Promoting responsibility and togetherness (2) Coping (3) Being in control amidst uncertainty (4) Fostering hope and (5) Relating with the followers, where we went in detail explanation by using frame functions of a persuasive narrative by Boin et al. ( 2016 ). We furthermore discussed the specific Norwegian contextual nuances to the frame functions. These were the theme ‘Responsibilization and togetherness’, presented via the references to Norwegianness and the cultural concept and practice of dugnad . Hence, our paper showed how during crisis persuasive narratives are incorporated into the social media communication strategies of political leaders.

The paper also showed how persuasive narratives are delivered through praising the public’s efforts, promoting togetherness, caring about the public’s well-being, displaying optimism and confidence in the government’s measures. It elaborated on how crisis management on social media was done via the use of humour and personal information. Humour was used as a tool to engage with the public and help them relate and comply to the COVID-19 restrictions. Hence, Solberg used Facebook to capitalise on a wide-reaching social medium (Hallahan, 2010 ). While the communication of leaders during crises helps to fill the cognitive void, the use of social media helps build societal resilience by improving awareness and encouraging preparedness (Boin et al., 2016 )

Even so, the success of a persuasive narrative is to a great extent dependant on the credibility of its proponents (Boin et al., 2016 ). The reputation of the leader and the organisation that they represent plays a key role in framing a successful persuasive narrative. In general, Norwegians have more trust in each other and their institutions than most other countries (Skirbekk and Grimen, 2012 ). A survey conducted by the Norwegian Citizen’s Panel [Norsk Medborgerpanel] in March 2020 found that trust in government, in the health authorities, in parliament, and in national and local politicians had increased, as did trust in the Prime Minister during the pandemic (Dahl, 2020 ). Clearly, Solberg seems to have benefitted from the trust capital in Norwegian society with her Facebook communications during a crisis. More recently, Erna Solberg has received heavy criticism for breach of COVID-19 restrictions during a family trip to Geilo for her 60th birthday (The Guardian, 2021a ). Following which, Erna Solberg, has been investigated by police and fined (The Guardian, 2021b ). Thus, while her Facebook posts exhibiting components of a persuasive narrative received popularity, her actions have nevertheless been subjected to scrutiny and criticisms in mainstream media (Larsen, 2021 ). According to Boin et al. ( 2016 : p. 72), the retainment of confidence of the public is essential for the communication strategies to be effective. Therefore, such media criticism might undermine the credibility of Solberg and her cabinet, leading to less credible and politically ineffective narratives. On the other hand, past performances, and reputation also play an important role in increasing leaders’ personal credibility in the face of crisis (Boin et al., 2016 ). Consequently, Solberg’s long career in politics and her reputation of caring about the citizens as previously discussed, could buffer the recent impact on her credibility. Moreover, communication during and after a crisis affects long-term impressions (Coombs, 2007 ). With the personification of politics in Norway or ‘decentralising personalization’ (Balmas et al., 2014 ), the criticisms paved at Erna, however, reflect more of a personal crisis than a national crisis. And while we do not analyse Solberg’s posts beyond 9 th Feb. 2021 i.e., after Solberg spoke about the Geilo trip incident on her Facebook account, we see that she follows similar strategy in handling this personal crisis as the national crisis of COVID-19, through use of a persuasive narrative. Future studies can therefore focus on how Solberg and other political leaders utilise the strategy of persuasive narrative in management of personal crisis in nexus with national crisis such as that of COVID-19.

Further, we concur with Christensen and Lægreid ( 2020 ) who write that the ‘political leadership has succeeded well in connecting governance capacity and legitimacy using the argument that Norway had sufficient resources to deal with the crisis. While the health resource capacity and preparedness of Norway inarguably contributes to the outcomes of the crisis, communicating a successful persuasive narrative with credibility is integral to gaining legitimacy and filling the cognitive void (Boin et al., 2016 ). Erna Solberg’s use of persuasive narrative in Facebook posts, seems therefore to have been effective in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, but her latest unfortunate incident goes to show how politicians’ management of crises is tenuous and highly dependent on public trust.

Our study adds to the significance and knowledge of how persuasive narratives are incorporated into the communication strategy of leaders on a social media platform and highlights the usefulness of this framework for studies about ongoing and future crises. By using data from social media, our findings also add to the understanding of the increased personification of politics and how leaders utilise this personification to communicate government measures and engage with the public during a crisis. Future research can further explore how public leaders and health authorities’ frame crises situations, actions, issues, and responsibility to dramatise and reinforce key ideas (Hallahan, 1999 ). Such insights can pave way for understanding public’s shaping of risk perceptions and compliance to behavioural measures during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data availability

The dataset analysed during the current study is available through the public profile of Erna Solberg on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ernasolberg/ . This dataset was derived from Crowd Tangle which can be accessed through request at https://www.crowdtangle.com/ .

Known as ‘hyttetur’, cabin trips are deeply rooted in Norwegian culture and way of life

Crowdtangle extracts both historical and current data of post contents and metadata such as the date the post was made, number of likes, other reactions and shares. Information about how to access raw material included in this study can be found in the data availability statement at the end of the article.

‘Everything will be fine’ [ Alt blir bra ] was one of the campaigns that spread because of the COVID-19 crisis in Norway depicting pictures of a rainbow.

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This article is published as part of the research project ‘Fighting Pandemics with Enhanced Risk Communication: Messages, Compliance and Vulnerability During the COVID-19 Outbreak (PAN-FIGHT)’, which is financed by the Norwegian Research Council (Project number: 312767).

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Arora, S., Debesay, J. & Eslen-Ziya, H. Persuasive narrative during the COVID-19 pandemic: Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s posts on Facebook. Humanit Soc Sci Commun 9 , 35 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-022-01051-5

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a persuasive essay about covid 19

The world is grappling with an invisible, deadly enemy, trying to understand how to live with the threat posed by a virus . For some writers, the only way forward is to put pen to paper, trying to conceptualize and document what it feels like to continue living as countries are under lockdown and regular life seems to have ground to a halt.

So as the coronavirus pandemic has stretched around the world, it’s sparked a crop of diary entries and essays that describe how life has changed. Novelists, critics, artists, and journalists have put words to the feelings many are experiencing. The result is a first draft of how we’ll someday remember this time, filled with uncertainty and pain and fear as well as small moments of hope and humanity.

At the New York Review of Books, Ali Bhutto writes that in Karachi, Pakistan, the government-imposed curfew due to the virus is “eerily reminiscent of past military clampdowns”:

Beneath the quiet calm lies a sense that society has been unhinged and that the usual rules no longer apply. Small groups of pedestrians look on from the shadows, like an audience watching a spectacle slowly unfolding. People pause on street corners and in the shade of trees, under the watchful gaze of the paramilitary forces and the police.

His essay concludes with the sobering note that “in the minds of many, Covid-19 is just another life-threatening hazard in a city that stumbles from one crisis to another.”

Writing from Chattanooga, novelist Jamie Quatro documents the mixed ways her neighbors have been responding to the threat, and the frustration of conflicting direction, or no direction at all, from local, state, and federal leaders:

Whiplash, trying to keep up with who’s ordering what. We’re already experiencing enough chaos without this back-and-forth. Why didn’t the federal government issue a nationwide shelter-in-place at the get-go, the way other countries did? What happens when one state’s shelter-in-place ends, while others continue? Do states still under quarantine close their borders? We are still one nation, not fifty individual countries. Right?

Award-winning photojournalist Alessio Mamo, quarantined with his partner Marta in Sicily after she tested positive for the virus, accompanies his photographs in the Guardian of their confinement with a reflection on being confined :

The doctors asked me to take a second test, but again I tested negative. Perhaps I’m immune? The days dragged on in my apartment, in black and white, like my photos. Sometimes we tried to smile, imagining that I was asymptomatic, because I was the virus. Our smiles seemed to bring good news. My mother left hospital, but I won’t be able to see her for weeks. Marta started breathing well again, and so did I. I would have liked to photograph my country in the midst of this emergency, the battles that the doctors wage on the frontline, the hospitals pushed to their limits, Italy on its knees fighting an invisible enemy. That enemy, a day in March, knocked on my door instead.

In the New York Times Magazine, deputy editor Jessica Lustig writes with devastating clarity about her family’s life in Brooklyn while her husband battled the virus, weeks before most people began taking the threat seriously:

At the door of the clinic, we stand looking out at two older women chatting outside the doorway, oblivious. Do I wave them away? Call out that they should get far away, go home, wash their hands, stay inside? Instead we just stand there, awkwardly, until they move on. Only then do we step outside to begin the long three-block walk home. I point out the early magnolia, the forsythia. T says he is cold. The untrimmed hairs on his neck, under his beard, are white. The few people walking past us on the sidewalk don’t know that we are visitors from the future. A vision, a premonition, a walking visitation. This will be them: Either T, in the mask, or — if they’re lucky — me, tending to him.

Essayist Leslie Jamison writes in the New York Review of Books about being shut away alone in her New York City apartment with her 2-year-old daughter since she became sick:

The virus. Its sinewy, intimate name. What does it feel like in my body today? Shivering under blankets. A hot itch behind the eyes. Three sweatshirts in the middle of the day. My daughter trying to pull another blanket over my body with her tiny arms. An ache in the muscles that somehow makes it hard to lie still. This loss of taste has become a kind of sensory quarantine. It’s as if the quarantine keeps inching closer and closer to my insides. First I lost the touch of other bodies; then I lost the air; now I’ve lost the taste of bananas. Nothing about any of these losses is particularly unique. I’ve made a schedule so I won’t go insane with the toddler. Five days ago, I wrote Walk/Adventure! on it, next to a cut-out illustration of a tiger—as if we’d see tigers on our walks. It was good to keep possibility alive.

At Literary Hub, novelist Heidi Pitlor writes about the elastic nature of time during her family’s quarantine in Massachusetts:

During a shutdown, the things that mark our days—commuting to work, sending our kids to school, having a drink with friends—vanish and time takes on a flat, seamless quality. Without some self-imposed structure, it’s easy to feel a little untethered. A friend recently posted on Facebook: “For those who have lost track, today is Blursday the fortyteenth of Maprilay.” ... Giving shape to time is especially important now, when the future is so shapeless. We do not know whether the virus will continue to rage for weeks or months or, lord help us, on and off for years. We do not know when we will feel safe again. And so many of us, minus those who are gifted at compartmentalization or denial, remain largely captive to fear. We may stay this way if we do not create at least the illusion of movement in our lives, our long days spent with ourselves or partners or families.

Novelist Lauren Groff writes at the New York Review of Books about trying to escape the prison of her fears while sequestered at home in Gainesville, Florida:

Some people have imaginations sparked only by what they can see; I blame this blinkered empiricism for the parks overwhelmed with people, the bars, until a few nights ago, thickly thronged. My imagination is the opposite. I fear everything invisible to me. From the enclosure of my house, I am afraid of the suffering that isn’t present before me, the people running out of money and food or drowning in the fluid in their lungs, the deaths of health-care workers now growing ill while performing their duties. I fear the federal government, which the right wing has so—intentionally—weakened that not only is it insufficient to help its people, it is actively standing in help’s way. I fear we won’t sufficiently punish the right. I fear leaving the house and spreading the disease. I fear what this time of fear is doing to my children, their imaginations, and their souls.

At ArtForum , Berlin-based critic and writer Kristian Vistrup Madsen reflects on martinis, melancholia, and Finnish artist Jaakko Pallasvuo’s 2018 graphic novel Retreat , in which three young people exile themselves in the woods:

In melancholia, the shape of what is ending, and its temporality, is sprawling and incomprehensible. The ambivalence makes it hard to bear. The world of Retreat is rendered in lush pink and purple watercolors, which dissolve into wild and messy abstractions. In apocalypse, the divisions established in genesis bleed back out. My own Corona-retreat is similarly soft, color-field like, each day a blurred succession of quarantinis, YouTube–yoga, and televized press conferences. As restrictions mount, so does abstraction. For now, I’m still rooting for love to save the world.

At the Paris Review , Matt Levin writes about reading Virginia Woolf’s novel The Waves during quarantine:

A retreat, a quarantine, a sickness—they simultaneously distort and clarify, curtail and expand. It is an ideal state in which to read literature with a reputation for difficulty and inaccessibility, those hermetic books shorn of the handholds of conventional plot or characterization or description. A novel like Virginia Woolf’s The Waves is perfect for the state of interiority induced by quarantine—a story of three men and three women, meeting after the death of a mutual friend, told entirely in the overlapping internal monologues of the six, interspersed only with sections of pure, achingly beautiful descriptions of the natural world, a day’s procession and recession of light and waves. The novel is, in my mind’s eye, a perfectly spherical object. It is translucent and shimmering and infinitely fragile, prone to shatter at the slightest disturbance. It is not a book that can be read in snatches on the subway—it demands total absorption. Though it revels in a stark emotional nakedness, the book remains aloof, remote in its own deep self-absorption.

In an essay for the Financial Times, novelist Arundhati Roy writes with anger about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s anemic response to the threat, but also offers a glimmer of hope for the future:

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.

From Boston, Nora Caplan-Bricker writes in The Point about the strange contraction of space under quarantine, in which a friend in Beirut is as close as the one around the corner in the same city:

It’s a nice illusion—nice to feel like we’re in it together, even if my real world has shrunk to one person, my husband, who sits with his laptop in the other room. It’s nice in the same way as reading those essays that reframe social distancing as solidarity. “We must begin to see the negative space as clearly as the positive, to know what we don’t do is also brilliant and full of love,” the poet Anne Boyer wrote on March 10th, the day that Massachusetts declared a state of emergency. If you squint, you could almost make sense of this quarantine as an effort to flatten, along with the curve, the distinctions we make between our bonds with others. Right now, I care for my neighbor in the same way I demonstrate love for my mother: in all instances, I stay away. And in moments this month, I have loved strangers with an intensity that is new to me. On March 14th, the Saturday night after the end of life as we knew it, I went out with my dog and found the street silent: no lines for restaurants, no children on bicycles, no couples strolling with little cups of ice cream. It had taken the combined will of thousands of people to deliver such a sudden and complete emptiness. I felt so grateful, and so bereft.

And on his own website, musician and artist David Byrne writes about rediscovering the value of working for collective good , saying that “what is happening now is an opportunity to learn how to change our behavior”:

In emergencies, citizens can suddenly cooperate and collaborate. Change can happen. We’re going to need to work together as the effects of climate change ramp up. In order for capitalism to survive in any form, we will have to be a little more socialist. Here is an opportunity for us to see things differently — to see that we really are all connected — and adjust our behavior accordingly. Are we willing to do this? Is this moment an opportunity to see how truly interdependent we all are? To live in a world that is different and better than the one we live in now? We might be too far down the road to test every asymptomatic person, but a change in our mindsets, in how we view our neighbors, could lay the groundwork for the collective action we’ll need to deal with other global crises. The time to see how connected we all are is now.

The portrait these writers paint of a world under quarantine is multifaceted. Our worlds have contracted to the confines of our homes, and yet in some ways we’re more connected than ever to one another. We feel fear and boredom, anger and gratitude, frustration and strange peace. Uncertainty drives us to find metaphors and images that will let us wrap our minds around what is happening.

Yet there’s no single “what” that is happening. Everyone is contending with the pandemic and its effects from different places and in different ways. Reading others’ experiences — even the most frightening ones — can help alleviate the loneliness and dread, a little, and remind us that what we’re going through is both unique and shared by all.

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Examining persuasive message type to encourage staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic and social lockdown: A randomized controlled study in Japan

  • • We examined persuasive message types in terms of a narrator encouraging self-restraint.
  • • Messages from a governor, an expert, a physician, a patient, and a resident were compared.
  • • The message from a physician increased intention to stay at home the most.
  • • The physician’s message conveyed the crisis of collapse of the medical system.

Behavioral change is the only prevention against the COVID-19 pandemic until vaccines become available. This is the first study to examine the most persuasive message type in terms of narrator difference in encouraging people to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic and social lockdown.

Participants (n = 1,980) were randomly assigned to five intervention messages (from a governor, a public health expert, a physician, a patient, and a resident of an outbreak area) and a control message. Intention to stay at home before and after reading messages was assessed. A one-way ANOVA with Tukey’s or Games–Howell test was conducted.

Compared with other messages, the message from a physician significantly increased participants’ intention to stay at home in areas with high numbers of people infected (versus a governor, p  = .002; an expert, p  = .023; a resident, p  = .004).

The message from a physician―which conveyed the crisis of overwhelmed hospitals and consequent risk of people being unable to receive treatment―increased the intent to stay at home the most.

Practice implications

Health professionals and media operatives may be able to encourage people to stay at home by disseminating the physicians’ messages through media and the internet.

1. Introduction

The outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has emerged as the largest global pandemic ever experienced [ 1 ]. Experts have proposed that social lockdown will lead to improvements such as controlling the increase in the number of infected individuals and preventing a huge burden on the healthcare system [ [2] , [3] , [4] ]. Governments of many countries across the world have declared local and national social lockdown [ 4 , 5 ]. In April 2020, the Japanese government declared a state of emergency, which allows prefectural governors to request residents to refrain from unnecessary and nonurgent outings from home [ 6 ]. However, despite such governor declarations, people in various countries have resisted and disregarded calls to stay at home [ [7] , [8] , [9] ]. Because social lockdown is the only existing weapon for prevention of the pandemic until vaccines becomes available to treat COVID-19, behavioral change in individuals regarding staying at home is crucial [ 3 , 4 ]. Many news articles about COVID-19 are published daily by the mass media and over the internet. Such articles convey messages from governors, public health experts, physicians, COVID-19 patients, and residents of outbreak areas, encouraging people to stay at home. This is the first study to examine which narrator’s message is most persuasive in encouraging people to do so during the COVID-19 pandemic and social lockdown.

2.1. Participants and design

Participants were recruited from people registered in a survey company database in Japan. The eligibility criterion was men and women aged 18–69 years. Exclusion criteria were individuals who answered screening questions by stating: that they cannot go out because of illness or disability; that they have been diagnosed with a mental illness; or/and that they or their family members have been infected with COVID-19. A total of 1,980 participants completed the survey from May 9–11, 2020, when the state of emergency covered all prefectures in Japan. Participants were included according to the population composition ratio in Japan nationwide by gender, age, and residential area. Participants were randomly assigned either to a group that received an intervention message (i.e., from a governor, a public health expert, a physician, a patient, and a resident of the outbreak area) or to one that received a control message. The study was registered as a University Hospital Medical Information Network Clinical Trials Registry (number: UMIN000040286) on May 1, 2020. The methods of the present study adhered to CONSORT guidelines. The protocol was approved by the ethical review committee at the Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo (number: 2020032NI). All participants gave written informed consent in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.

2.2. Intervention and control messages

We searched news articles about COVID-19 using Yahoo! JAPAN News ( https://news.yahoo.co.jp ), the largest Japanese news portal site. We also searched videos posted by residents of outbreak areas such as New York using YouTube ( https://www.youtube.com/user/YouTubeJapan ). By referring to these articles and videos, we created five intervention messages from a governor, a public health expert, a physician, a patient, and a resident of an outbreak area. The content of each message encouraged readers to stay at home. We included threat and coping messages in each intervention message based on protection motivation theory (PMT) [ 10 , 11 ]. Appendix A shows the five intervention messages used in this study, translated into English for this report. For a control message we obtained textual information about bruxism from the website of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare ( https://www.e-healthnet.mhlw.go.jp/ ).

2.3. Measures

The primary outcome was intention to stay at home. The secondary outcomes were PMT constructs (i.e., perceived severity, vulnerability, response efficacy, and self-efficacy). Participants responded to two or three questions for each measure (see Appendix B ). These measures were adapted and modified from previous studies [ [12] , [13] , [14] , [15] ]. All primary and secondary outcomes were measured before and after the participants read intervention or control messages, and mean scores were calculated. Higher scores indicated greater intention and perception. All participants were asked for their sociodemographic information before they read intervention or control messages.

2.4. Sample size

Based on the effect size in a previous randomized controlled study [ 16 ], we estimated a small effect size (Cohen’s d  = .20) in the current study. We conducted a power analysis at an alpha error rate of .05 (two-tailed) and a beta error rate of .20. The power analysis indicated that 330 participants were required in each of the intervention and control groups.

2.5. Statistical analysis

A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted with the absolute change in mean values for each measure before and after intervention as the dependent variable and the group assignment as the independent variable. For multiple comparisons, Tukey’s test was conducted on significant main effects where appropriate. The Games–Howell test was performed when the assumption of homogeneity of variances was not satisfied. Additionally, we conducted subgroup analyses including only participants who lived in 13 “specified warning prefectures,” where the number of infected individuals showed a marked increase [ 17 ]. A p value of <.05 was considered significant in all statistical tests. All statistical analyses were performed using IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 21.0 (IBM, Armonk, NY, USA).

Table 1 shows the participants’ characteristics. Table 2 , Table 3 present a comparison among the five intervention groups using one-way ANOVA and multiple comparisons when including all prefectures and only participants who lived in the specified warning prefectures, respectively. More significant differences between intervention messages were found in the specified warning prefectures compared with all prefectures. In Table 3 , the Games–Howell test indicates that the message from a physician increased participants’ intention to stay at home significantly more than other narrators’ messages (versus a governor, p  = .002; an expert, p  = .023; a resident, p  = .004). Multiple comparisons demonstrated that the message from a physician increased participants’ perceived severity (versus a governor, p  = .015), response efficacy (versus a resident, p  = .014), and self-efficacy (versus a governor, p  = .022; a patient, p  = .009) significantly more than other narrators’ messages.

Participants’ sociodemographic information.

Comparison of amount of change before and after intervention among groups when including all prefectures (N = 1,980).

Comparison of amount of change before and after intervention among groups when including only the “specified warning prefectures” (N = 1,274).

4. Discussion and conclusion

4.1. discussion.

As Appendix A shows, the message from a physician specifically communicated the critical situation of hospitals being overwhelmed and the consequent risk of people being unable to receive treatment. Depiction of the crisis of overwhelmed hospitals may have evoked heightened sensation that elicited sensory, affective, and arousal responses in recipients. Social lockdown presumably evoked psychological reactance in many individuals [ 18 ]. Psychological reactance is considered one of the factors that impedes individuals’ staying at home during a pandemic [ 18 ]. Studies of psychological reactance have indicated that heightened sensation is the feature of a message that reduces psychological reactance [ 19 , 20 ]. Additionally, in Japan recommendations by physicians have a strong influence on individuals’ decision making owing to the remnants of paternalism in the patient–physician relationship [ 21 ]. These may constitute the reasons for the message from a physician generating the greatest impact on recipients’ protection motivation.

Public health professionals, governors, media professionals, and other influencers should use messages from physicians and disseminate relevant articles through the media and social networking services to encourage people to stay at home. It is important that health professionals and media have a network and collaborate with one another [ 22 ]. To build relationships and provide reliable resources, health professionals are expected to hold press conferences and study meetings with journalists. Through such networking, journalists can acquire accurate information in dealing with the pandemic, such as using messages from physicians to encourage people to stay at home. Consequently, journalists should disseminate such messages. It is also important that governments, municipalities, medical associations, and other public institutions convey messages from physicians and that the media effectively spread those messages. Owing to the advances of Web 2.0 [ 23 ], health professionals’ grassroots communication with journalists and citizens via social media may provide opportunities for many people to access persuasive messages from physicians.

4.1.1. Limitations

First, the content of the intervention messages in this study may not represent voices of all governors, public health experts, physicians, patients, and residents of outbreak areas. Second, it is not clear from this study which sentences in the intervention message made the most impact on recipients and why. Third, this study assessed intention rather than actual behavior. Finally, it is unclear as to what extent the present findings are generalizable to populations other than the Japanese participants in this study.

4.2. Conclusion

In areas with high numbers of infected people, the message from a physician, which conveyed the crisis of hospitals being overwhelmed and the consequent risk of people being unable to receive treatment, increased the intention to stay at home to a greater extent than other messages from a governor, a public health expert, a patient with COVID-19, and a resident of an outbreak area.

4.3. Practice implications

Governors, health professionals, and media professionals may be able to encourage people to stay at home by disseminating the physicians’ messages through media such as television and newspapers as well as social networking services on the internet.

This work was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science KAKENHI (grant number 19K10615).

CRediT authorship contribution statement

Tsuyoshi Okuhara: Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Investigation, Writing - original draft, Funding acquisition. Hiroko Okada: Methodology, Investigation, Writing - review & editing. Takahiro Kiuchi: Supervision, Writing - review & editing.

Declaration of Competing Interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Acknowledgement

We thank Hugh McGonigle, from Edanz Group ( https://en-author-services.edanzgroup.com/ac ), for editing a draft of the manuscript.

Appendix A. 

Intervention: the message from a governor.

The following is a message from the governor of your local area.

Please avoid leaving your house as much as possible.

Staying at home can save lives and prevent the spread of infection.

Intervention: The message from an expert

The following is a message from an infectious disease control expert.

Intervention: The message from a physician

The following is a message from an emergency medical care doctor.

Intervention: The message from a patient

The following is a message from a patient who is infected with the novel coronavirus.

Intervention: The message from a resident

The following is a message from an individual who lives in an area where an outbreak of novel coronavirus has occurred.

A control message

According to the traditional definition, grinding one’s teeth is when somebody makes a sound by strongly grinding the teeth together, usually unconsciously or while asleep. Nowadays, it is often referred to as ‘teeth grinding,’ a term which also covers various actions that we do while awake.

Whether you are sleeping or awake, the non-functional biting habit of grinding one’s teeth dynamically or statically, or clenching one’s teeth, can also be referred to as bruxism (sleep bruxism if it occurs at night). Bruxism can be categorized into the movements of: sliding the upper and lower teeth together like mortar and pestle (grinding); firmly and statically engaging the upper and lower teeth (clenching); and dynamically bringing the upper and lower teeth together with a tap (tapping).

Bruxism is difficult to diagnose, as it often has no noticeable symptoms. Stress and dentition are thought to be causes of bruxism, but it is currently unclear and future research is anticipated.

Splint therapy, which involves the use of a mouthpiece as an artificial plastic covering on one’s teeth, and cognitive behavioral therapy are being researched as treatments for bruxism.

Appendix B. 

All questions above were on a scale of 1–6, ranging from “extremely unlikely” to “unlikely,” “a little unlikely,” “a little likely,” “likely,” and “extremely likely.”

Sandro Galea M.D.

COVID-19 Was a Turning Point for Health

Our new book focuses on the lessons of the pandemic..

Posted February 15, 2024 | Reviewed by Michelle Quirk

  • To think comprehensively about COVID-19 is to think not just about the past but also about the future.
  • The narratives we accept about the pandemic will do much to shape our ability to create a healthier world.
  • Understanding the pandemic, and learning from it, means coming to terms with the emotions of that time.

In 2021, the United States was at a turning point. We had just lived through the acute phase of a global pandemic. During that time, the country had experienced an economic crisis, civil unrest, a deeply divisive federal election, and a technological revolution in how we live, work, and congregate. The emergence of COVID-19 vaccines allowed us, finally, to look ahead to a post-pandemic world, but what would that world be like? Would it be a return to the pre-COVID-19 status quo, or would it be something radically new?

It was with these questions in mind that, in 2021, I partnered with my colleague Michael Stein to write a series of essays reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic. Our aim was to engage with the COVID moment through the lens of cutting -edge public health science. By exploring the pandemic’s intersection with topics like digital surveillance, vaccine distribution, big data, and the link between science and political decision-making , we tried to sketch what the moment meant while it unfolded and what its implications might be for the future. If journalism is “the first rough draft of history,” these essays were, in a way, our effort to produce just such a draft, from the perspective of a forward-looking public health. I am delighted to announce that a book based on this series of essays has just been published by Oxford University Press: The Turning Point: Reflections on a Pandemic .

The book includes a series of short chapters, structured in five sections that address the following themes:

This section looks at the COVID-19 moment through the lens of what we might learn from it, toward better addressing future pandemics. It tackles challenges we faced in our approach to testing, our successes and shortcomings in implementing contact tracing, the intersection of the pandemic and mass incarceration, and more. Many of these lessons emerged organically from the day-to-day experience of the pandemic, reflecting “unknown unknowns”—areas where we encountered unexpected deficits in our knowledge, which were revealed by the circumstances of the pandemic. Chapter 8, for example, explores the necessity of public health officials speaking with care, mindful that our words may be used to justify authoritarian approaches in the name of health, a challenge we saw in the actions of the Chinese government during the pandemic.

Our understanding of large-scale health challenges like pandemics depends on more than collections of data and a timeline of events. It depends on our stories. The narratives we accept about the pandemic will do much to shape our ability to create a healthier world before the next contagion strikes. This section explores the stories we told during COVID-19 about what was happening to us and looks ahead to the narratives that will likely define our recollections of the pandemic moment. It addresses narratives around the virtues and limits of expertise, the role of the media as both a shaper of stories and a character in them, the hotly contested narrative around vaccines, and the role scientists, physicians, and epidemiologists played in shaping the story of the pandemic as it unfolded.

This section explores how our values informed what we did during COVID-19 through the ethical considerations that shaped our engagement with the moment. These include the ethical tradeoffs involved in questions of digital surveillance, scientific bias, vaccine mandates, balancing individual autonomy and collective responsibility, and the role of the profit motive in creating critical treatments. At times, these reflections reach back into history, grappling with past moments when we failed in our ethical obligations to support the health of all, as in a chapter discussing how the legacy of medical racism shaped our engagement with communities of color during the pandemic. Such soul-searching is core to our ability to evaluate our performance during COVID-19 and face the future grounded in the values that support effective, ethical public health action.

As human beings, we do not process events through reason alone. We are deeply swayed by emotion . This is particularly true in times of tragedy like COVID-19. Understanding the pandemic, and learning from it, means coming to terms with the emotions of that time, the feelings that attended all we did. Grief and loss, humility and hope, trust and mistrust , compassion and fear —both individual and collective—were all core to the experience of the pandemic. The simple act of recognizing our collective grief, as several chapters in this section try to do, can help us move forward, acknowledging the emotions that attend tragedy as we work toward a better world.

To think comprehensively about COVID-19 is to think not just about the past but about the future. We seek to understand the pandemic to prevent something like it from ever happening again. This means creating a world that is fundamentally healthier than the one that existed in 2019. This final section looks to the future from the perspective of the COVID-19 moment, with an eye toward using the lessons of that time to create a healthier world, as in Chapter 50, which addresses the challenge of rebuilding trust in public health institutions after it was tested during the pandemic. The section also touches on leadership and decision-making, shaping a better health system, shoring up our investment in health, the future of remote work, and next steps in our efforts to support health in the years to come.

I end with a note of gratitude to Michael Stein, who led on the development of this book. It is, as always, a privilege to work with him and learn from him. I look forward to continued collaborations in the months and years to come, and to hearing from readers of The Turning Point as we engage in our collective task of building a healthier world, informed by what we have lived through and looking to the future.

A version of this essay appeared on Substack.

Sandro Galea M.D.

Sandro Galea, M.D., is the Robert A. Knox professor and dean of the Boston University School of Public Health

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Persuasive messaging to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake intentions

Affiliations.

  • 1 Yale Institute for Global Health, New Haven, CT, USA; Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.
  • 2 Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA; Center for the Study of American Politics, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.
  • 3 Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA; Center for the Study of American Politics, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA; Department of Political Science, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.
  • 4 Yale Institute for Global Health, New Haven, CT, USA; Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA; Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA; Yale School of Nursing, West Haven, CT, USA.
  • 5 Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA; Center for the Study of American Politics, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA; Department of Political Science, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • PMID: 34774363
  • PMCID: PMC8531257
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.10.039

Widespread vaccination remains the best option for controlling the spread of COVID-19 and ending the pandemic. Despite the considerable disruption the virus has caused to people's lives, many people are still hesitant to receive a vaccine. Without high rates of uptake, however, the pandemic is likely to be prolonged. Here we use two survey experiments to study how persuasive messaging affects COVID-19 vaccine uptake intentions. In the first experiment, we test a large number of treatment messages. One subgroup of messages draws on the idea that mass vaccination is a collective action problem and highlighting the prosocial benefit of vaccination or the reputational costs that one might incur if one chooses not to vaccinate. Another subgroup of messages built on contemporary concerns about the pandemic, like issues of restricting personal freedom or economic security. We find that persuasive messaging that invokes prosocial vaccination and social image concerns is effective at increasing intended uptake and also the willingness to persuade others and judgments of non-vaccinators. We replicate this result on a nationally representative sample of Americans and observe that prosocial messaging is robust across subgroups, including those who are most hesitant about vaccines generally. The experiments demonstrate how persuasive messaging can induce individuals to be more likely to vaccinate and also create spillover effects to persuade others to do so as well. The first experiment in this study was registered at clinicaltrials.gov and can be found under the ID number NCT04460703 . This study was registered at Open Science Framework (OSF) at: https://osf.io/qu8nb/?view_only=82f06ecad77f4e54b02e8581a65047d7.

Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • COVID-19 Vaccines*
  • United States
  • Vaccination
  • COVID-19 Vaccines

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04460703

Grants and funding

  • UL1 TR001863/TR/NCATS NIH HHS/United States
  • The University of Warwick

How to persuade people to take the COVID-19 vaccine

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a persuasive essay about covid 19

It will inject a microchip so Bill Gates can track your every move; it will turn you into a monkey; it will alter your DNA; it will allow Russia to spy on you.

These are just a few of the crazy conspiracy theories circulating on social media about the COVID-19 vaccine. Governments are not only waged in a war against the virus but a battle with misinformation as they look to roll out vaccines.

While in the UK the Government is battling against ‘vaccine hesitancy’ over more legitimate concerns around safety and critics arguing regulators have approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine too quickly.

Indeed, in a recent study by the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, only 54 per cent of UK respondents said they would definitely take the COVID-19 vaccine and this dropped to 47.6 per cent after viewing misinformation on social media. And people from lower income, black and ethnic minority backgrounds were least likely to go and get vaccinated.

So how do Governments overcome these barriers and persuade the public that the vaccine is safe and they need to be vaccinated?

This is where insights from behavioural science can help Governments’ messaging and present a more powerful and persuasive case for vaccination. This will take more than logistics and simple messaging, only with a behavioural approach as part of the programme will the system deliver the 80 per cent coverage needed to gain herd immunity.

As part of the UK’s National Health Service’s (NHS) COVID Behaviour Change Unit I have been detailing the behavioural science insights that policymakers will need. We have developed evidenced-based behavioural policies for each of the priority groups: care home residents and the over-80s, health and care workers, the over-65s and young people.

Our research has found that across all the population cohorts there are significant potential barriers to taking the vaccine, ranging from anxiety to determined resistance, mild scepticism to overt mistrust, and disinterest to conscious non-compliance. For instance, young people are highly sceptical and more likely to believe false information, such as that seen on social media that the vaccine includes a microchip to track your every move or that it contains lung tissue from an aborted foetus.

By using the MINDSPACE framework – a simple tool to diagnose problems and create interventions – we detailed a litany of nudges that should be used to persuade the doubters and hesitant to take the vaccine for eahc group.

Care home residents and over-80s

The barriers to take-up in care homes is the anxiety about being one of the first to take the vaccine, a feeling that they are the country’s guinea pigs.

There is also a question of trust, many of those in the 11,000 care homes across the UK have mental health issues or complex medical needs, with 40 per cent of residents suffering from dementia, and so they rely on the familiar faces of staff.

This is where the messenger effect can help. A well-researched phonemenon is how we trust the message being delivered more when the person conveying it is like us or an authority figure. Thus, it would be best if care home staff were trained to administer the vaccine or known GPs, but if this can’t be done then trusted members of staff should accompany the immuniser. Align known staff with ‘strangers’ to reassure residents. Also use known local GP surgery staff and other known community staff.

Salience – where our behaviour is influenced by what seems relevant to us and to our personal experiences – is also a powerful nudge. Thus, accessible and evidence-based messaging about the positives that over-80s and care home residents are among the first to be vaccinated can be more persuasive with celebrities they trust. This has already been done with Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith and there should be more.

It is vital that having the vaccination is a good experience because of our propensity to accept any default setting and the influence of ‘affect’, where our emotional associations can powerfully shape our actions. This is especially important as everybody will require a second dose. So, being clear on any potential side-effects and providing leaflets and good communication on how to deal with them is crucial.

We respond well to incentives, so rewarding those vaccinated with a badge will appeal to our powerful ego, which can also be nudged by providing care homes with a certificate from an official body recognising when all residents have been immunised.  

Social norms are also powerful drivers of behaviour, thus, producing a chart that the public can easily follow showing how many people have been vaccinated each day will active this and show we are all in this together.

Health and care workers

As you would expect, our research has found that health and care staff have a strong desire to return to their pre-pandemic roles and this can be used as an incentive.

A clear plan with time frames should be distributed across digital media showing when health services will start to return ‘to normal’.Health and care workers have been through a lot of stress coping with the pandemic and many have voluntarily gone beyond Government guidelines in isolating themselves from family and friends. To reward such sacrifices and incentivise takeup of the vaccine ‘staff and family parties’ should be organised.

This is a knowledgeable group and research on other vaccines has shown nurses and doctors are more willing the more information they read on it. Thus, evidence on the effectiveness of the vaccination should be provided across hospital and workplace communications and a dedicated webpage, with contributions from relevant experts and organisations such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The messenger effect can also help with this by using hospital CEOs, medical and nursing directors to champion the vaccine and take it first.

Hospital leaders can also be used to activate another powerful force – commitment, where we seek to be consistent with our public promises, and reciprocate acts. They can send a clear message that the vaccination programme is about staff health, and not workforce numbers, to show they care and are committed to their wellbeing.

Is the fear of the vaccine greater than the fear of the virus? This is a consideration for the over-65s and particularly relevant for black and ethnic minorities (BAME) who were perceived as higher risk but have not caught the virus.

Indeed, research shows vaccine hesitancy is higher among BAME groups and lower income households and with diminished levels of education.

Using trusted channels such as faith groups, charities and community groups is important as well as using messaging that taps into the affect bias to evoke an emotional response, such as “over-65s are over three times more likely to die if you get COVID than someone younger than you”. And use traditional media such as newspapers, billboards and broadcast alongside digital channels.

Use salience by emphasising that the vaccine will allow the ove-65s to return to their normal activities, social life and see their children and grandchildren. They also need reassuring that there will be enough vaccine for their family and friends so they are not taking the dose away from someone who needs it more. This will appease their ego.

While a single webpage on the NHS explaining what to expect when having the vaccine, possible side effects, and how to manage them can help alleviate their fears.

Young People

This group ranges from teenagers to 29 and they are least likely to become severely ill, which may lead to a complacent attitude to receiving the vaccine. However, if herd immunity is to be achieve it is vital they participate.

Social media is a key communication channel for them so employing the messenger effect with influencers to champion the vaccination is vitally important. Research has shown how much of an impact social media influencers’ opinions have and it will help dispel the plethora of misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Trust of politicians and leaders is low among young people and so they are more susceptible to misinformation. Any false stories gaining traction on social media need to be identified and countered head on through clear evidenced-based messages from influencers.

Young people have been denied a lot of freedom, with their social life being severely impacted. Returning to this can be used as an incentive with the introduction of vaccination passports for universities, work, attending sports events and going to clubs and concerts.

Alongside these incentives messaging needs to acknowledge the impact the virus has had on this group. Explain why they are lower down the vaccine roll-out and back-up the statements with science, actual research numbers and a link to 'geting your life back'.

Use of affect – where our emotional associations can powerfully shape our actions – can also be used with this cohort by emphasising the regret they would feel if they were not vaccinated and subsequnetly infected loved ones. 

By using behavioural science insights each potential barriers can be identified, understood and mitigated with tailored strategies for the different population groups. This will give the UK a much better chance of reaching herd immunity and bringing an end to the pandemic.

Ivo Vlaev  is Professor of Behavioural Science and part of  the UK  National Health Service’s (NHS) COVID Behaviour Change Unit. He  teaches Mobilising Resources and Incentives for Healthcare Innovation on the  E xecutive MBA Healthcare Specialism . He also lectures on Judgement and Decision Making on the MSc Finance .

For more articles on Behavioural Science sign up to Core Insights  here .

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Misdirecting Persuasive Efforts During the Covid-19 Pandemic: The Targets People Choose May Not Be the Most Likely to Change

Persuading people to engage in specific health behaviors is critical to prevent the spread of and mitigate the harm caused by COVID-19. Most of the research and practice around this issue focuses on developing effective message content. Importantly, though, persuasion is often critically dependent on choosing appropriate targets — that is, on selecting the best audience for one’s message. Three experiments conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic explore this target selection process and demonstrate misalignment between who persuaders target and who will display the greatest attitude and behavior change. Although people prefer to send messages encouraging COVID-19 prevention behaviors to targets with slightly negative attitudes toward the behaviors in question, their messages can often have more impact when sent to targets whose attitudes are slightly favorable. Recent insights in categorical perception and message positioning effects in persuasion help explain this misalignment.

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children with masks showing thumbs up

COVID-19 photo essay: We’re all in this together

About the author, department of global communications.

The United Nations Department of Global Communications (DGC) promotes global awareness and understanding of the work of the United Nations.

23 June 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic has  demonstrated the interconnected nature of our world – and that no one is safe until everyone is safe.  Only by acting in solidarity can communities save lives and overcome the devastating socio-economic impacts of the virus.  In partnership with the United Nations, people around the world are showing acts of humanity, inspiring hope for a better future. 

Everyone can do something    

Rauf Salem, a volunteer, instructs children on the right way to wash their hands

Rauf Salem, a volunteer, instructs children on the right way to wash their hands, in Sana'a, Yemen.  Simple measures, such as maintaining physical distance, washing hands frequently and wearing a mask are imperative if the fight against COVID-19 is to be won.  Photo: UNICEF/UNI341697

Creating hope

man with guitar in front of colorful poster

Venezuelan refugee Juan Batista Ramos, 69, plays guitar in front of a mural he painted at the Tancredo Neves temporary shelter in Boa Vista, Brazil to help lift COVID-19 quarantine blues.  “Now, everywhere you look you will see a landscape to remind us that there is beauty in the world,” he says.  Ramos is among the many artists around the world using the power of culture to inspire hope and solidarity during the pandemic.  Photo: UNHCR/Allana Ferreira

Inclusive solutions

woman models a transparent face mask designed to help the hard of hearing

Wendy Schellemans, an education assistant at the Royal Woluwe Institute in Brussels, models a transparent face mask designed to help the hard of hearing.  The United Nations and partners are working to ensure that responses to COVID-19 leave no one behind.  Photo courtesy of Royal Woluwe Institute

Humanity at its best

woman in protective gear sews face masks

Maryna, a community worker at the Arts Centre for Children and Youth in Chasiv Yar village, Ukraine, makes face masks on a sewing machine donated by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and civil society partner, Proliska.  She is among the many people around the world who are voluntarily addressing the shortage of masks on the market. Photo: UNHCR/Artem Hetman

Keep future leaders learning

A mother helps her daughter Ange, 8, take classes on television at home

A mother helps her daughter Ange, 8, take classes on television at home in Man, Côte d'Ivoire.  Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, caregivers and educators have responded in stride and have been instrumental in finding ways to keep children learning.  In Côte d'Ivoire, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) partnered with the Ministry of Education on a ‘school at home’ initiative, which includes taping lessons to be aired on national TV and radio.  Ange says: “I like to study at home.  My mum is a teacher and helps me a lot.  Of course, I miss my friends, but I can sleep a bit longer in the morning.  Later I want to become a lawyer or judge."  Photo: UNICEF/UNI320749

Global solidarity

People in Nigeria’s Lagos State simulate sneezing into their elbows

People in Nigeria’s Lagos State simulate sneezing into their elbows during a coronavirus prevention campaign.  Many African countries do not have strong health care systems.  “Global solidarity with Africa is an imperative – now and for recovering better,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.  “Ending the pandemic in Africa is essential for ending it across the world.” Photo: UNICEF Nigeria/2020/Ojo

A new way of working

Henri Abued Manzano, a tour guide at the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Vienna, speaks from his apartment.

Henri Abued Manzano, a tour guide at the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Vienna, speaks from his apartment.  COVID-19 upended the way people work, but they can be creative while in quarantine.  “We quickly decided that if visitors can’t come to us, we will have to come to them,” says Johanna Kleinert, Chief of the UNIS Visitors Service in Vienna.  Photo courtesy of Kevin Kühn

Life goes on

baby in bed with parents

Hundreds of millions of babies are expected to be born during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Fionn, son of Chloe O'Doherty and her husband Patrick, is among them.  The couple says: “It's all over.  We did it.  Brought life into the world at a time when everything is so uncertain.  The relief and love are palpable.  Nothing else matters.”  Photo: UNICEF/UNI321984/Bopape

Putting meals on the table

mother with baby

Sudanese refugee Halima, in Tripoli, Libya, says food assistance is making her life better.  COVID-19 is exacerbating the existing hunger crisis.  Globally, 6 million more people could be pushed into extreme poverty unless the international community acts now.  United Nations aid agencies are appealing for more funding to reach vulnerable populations.  Photo: UNHCR

Supporting the frontlines

woman handing down box from airplane to WFP employee

The United Nations Air Service, run by the World Food Programme (WFP), distributes protective gear donated by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Group, in Somalia. The United Nations is using its supply chain capacity to rapidly move badly needed personal protective equipment, such as medical masks, gloves, gowns and face-shields to the frontline of the battle against COVID-19. Photo: WFP/Jama Hassan  

David is speaking with colleagues

S7-Episode 2: Bringing Health to the World

“You see, we're not doing this work to make ourselves feel better. That sort of conventional notion of what a do-gooder is. We're doing this work because we are totally convinced that it's not necessary in today's wealthy world for so many people to be experiencing discomfort, for so many people to be experiencing hardship, for so many people to have their lives and their livelihoods imperiled.”

Dr. David Nabarro has dedicated his life to global health. After a long career that’s taken him from the horrors of war torn Iraq, to the devastating aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, he is still spurred to action by the tremendous inequalities in global access to medical care.

“The thing that keeps me awake most at night is the rampant inequities in our world…We see an awful lot of needless suffering.”

:: David Nabarro interviewed by Melissa Fleming

Ballet Manguinhos resumes performing after a COVID-19 hiatus with “Woman: Power and Resistance”. Photo courtesy Ana Silva/Ballet Manguinhos

Brazilian ballet pirouettes during pandemic

Ballet Manguinhos, named for its favela in Rio de Janeiro, returns to the stage after a long absence during the COVID-19 pandemic. It counts 250 children and teenagers from the favela as its performers. The ballet group provides social support in a community where poverty, hunger and teen pregnancy are constant issues.

Nazira Inoyatova is a radio host and the creative/programme director at Avtoradio FM 102.0 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Photo courtesy Azamat Abbasov

Radio journalist gives the facts on COVID-19 in Uzbekistan

The pandemic has put many people to the test, and journalists are no exception. Coronavirus has waged war not only against people's lives and well-being but has also spawned countless hoaxes and scientific falsehoods.

A doctor and a patient talking

COVID vaccine hesitancy: spell out the personal rather than collective benefits to persuade people — new research

a persuasive essay about covid 19

Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Oxford

Disclosure statement

Daniel Freeman receives funding from the National Institute for Health Research and the Medical Research Council. The current research was funded by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and the NIHR Oxford Health BRC.

University of Oxford provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

View all partners

Approximately 10% of UK adults say they will never get vaccinated against COVID-19 or will avoid doing so for as long as possible. Scientists call this group the “vaccine hesitant”, though hesitancy may not seem the right term to describe views often held with clear conviction. People who are vaccine hesitant have often thought long and hard about whether to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

How can such views be shifted? Ideally, one would sit down with people, listen and discuss. In reality, public health campaigners have only mass messaging at their disposal: information disseminated through billboards, TV slots and social media. These are crude tools for tackling sometimes deeply ingrained personal beliefs. What messages delivered through them might really make a difference?

Over the past year, the Oxford Coronavirus Explanations, Attitudes and Narratives Surveys (OCEANS) team has tried to answer this question. We’ve worked to form a psychological explanation for vaccine hesitancy by canvassing the views of people for, against and undecided about vaccines.

We’ve found that hesitancy emerges from a nexus of beliefs , the most important being scepticism about the collective benefits of vaccination. The hesitant don’t accept that taking a vaccine means we’re all better off. They also tend to believe that COVID-19 isn’t a big danger to their health. And they worry that vaccines may be ineffective or downright harmful. The rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines reinforces these concerns.

Behind these specific ideas often lies mistrust. People who are hesitant tend to be suspicious of authority . But while it’s wise to make judgements based on evidence rather than blithely accepting what we’re told, in many cases we’ve found that the vaccine hesitant are susceptible to misinformation.

Fuelling this may be a sense of marginalisation. Vaccine-hesitant people are a little more likely to believe that they’re of lower social status . Feeling that society doesn’t care about them, they are unwilling to trust what they’re told by politicians and scientists.

Getting personal

Equipped with these insights, we decided to see whether we could craft messages that might shift negative attitudes. If people don’t appreciate the collective benefits of vaccination, let’s persuasively set out the case. Let’s explain that vaccines make it less likely we’ll pass on the virus, helping to protect others, particularly those especially vulnerable to the virus. And let’s make it clear that by reducing the risk of getting severely ill, we can help the country bounce back as quickly as possible. That should help shift attitudes, right?

To find out, in early February we surveyed nearly 19,000 UK adults, carefully selected to be representative for age, gender, ethnicity, income and region. Participants were then randomly asked to read one of ten texts about COVID-19 vaccines.

A woman with fatigue from long COVID lying on a bed

Some texts focused the collective benefits of vaccination, some on the personal benefits, some on safety and some a combination of messages. One text contained only basic information about the vaccine and didn’t provide any detail on benefits, and was used as a control. After reading their allocated text, participants completed a questionnaire on their willingness to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

The results were surprising. Previous surveys had suggested beliefs about the collective benefits of vaccination were pivotal to driving uptake. The extent to which people bought into this narrative seemed to determine their willingness to take a vaccine.

But the text that was most likely to change the minds of the vaccine hesitant (when compared to the control) emphasised not the collective but the personal benefits of vaccination. It pointed out that you can’t be sure that you won’t get seriously ill or struggle with long-term COVID-related problems, and that vaccination will minimise your chances of falling ill.

Months of media coverage in the UK has instead focused on collective responsibility – that we owe it to our fellow citizens to get vaccinated. But for the sceptical 10%, this hasn’t cut through, which is perhaps to be expected. If you think vaccines are unsafe, then you’ll be worried about what getting the jab will do to you. Your decision making then becomes dominated by personal risk.

The best way to counter these concerns, therefore, is to highlight the opposite: personal benefits – and our new research suggests this could well work. It’s also probable that for a group that’s more likely to feel socially excluded, messages that focus on the personal rather than collective ramifications of COVID-19 will be more compelling.

Three scientists at work in a lab

What about the view that the vaccines have been developed too quickly? It’s an understandable fear: these vaccines have been produced with unparalleled speed . In response to this, one text in our study explained that the speed of development reflects the exceptional commitment, investment and cooperation of scientists, governments, public health organisations and pharmaceutical companies – as well as of the tens of thousands of members of the public who volunteered to test the vaccines.

This text noted too that side-effects that affect a significant proportion of people don’t suddenly appear months and years after vaccination. Because of the way vaccines work – quickly training the body’s immune system to fight off a virus – any issues arise within a month and usually much sooner. Happily, this information did seem to reassure people and helped reduce hesitancy.

COVID-19 is unlikely to disappear in the foreseeable future, which means vaccination messaging will remain of critical importance. When it comes to persuading the vaccine hesitant, our research shows that we need to listen, understand concerns and address them seriously. No message will be truly effective if the messenger has not earned trust, nor if it doesn’t account for the desires and worries of those receiving it.

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a persuasive essay about covid 19

A four-forked etymology: curfew

a persuasive essay about covid 19

Word Origins And How We Know Them

Anatoly Liberman's column on word origins,  The Oxford Etymologist , appears on the OUPblog each Wednesday. Subscribe to Anatoly Liberman’s weekly etymology articles via  email  or  RSS .

  • By Anatoly Liberman
  • February 21 st 2024

I remember that I promised to answer a few questions, and several of my answers are indeed overdue. But so is the post on the word curfew , which has been smoldering on my back burner for a long time, because I did not dare make its conclusions public. But nothing boils on that burner, and I decided to put off the gleanings and a few lines about curious idioms until next week and share with the world what I know about the origin of curfew .

a persuasive essay about covid 19

It appears that the etymology of curfew has been solved. In any case, all modern dictionaries say the same. The English word surfaced in texts in the early fourteenth century, but a signal to people to extinguish their fires is much older. Curfews were introduced as a protection against fires and nocturnal disorders in the unlighted streets (so The OED , The Century Dictionary , and other reliable reference works say). The modern sense of curfew does not antedate the nineteenth century. Supposedly, curfew goes back to Old French covrir “to cover” and feu “fire.” The word’s recorded forms are numerous, disconcertingly so.

Many people will remember the opening line of Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” : “The curfew tolls the knell of parting day.” In a different mood, Shakespeare’s Edgar says ( King Lear , III/4): “This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet ; / He begins at curfew and walks to the first cock.” One can read in dictionaries and encyclopedias that in the remote past the curfew bell was rung at eight or nine o’clock, but Shakespeare’s testimony is confusing. In a different play, we read: “The curfew bell is rung: / ‘Tis three o’clock” ( Romeo and Juliet , IV/4). Three o’clock is too early even for “the first cock.” We will presently return to this riddle.

a persuasive essay about covid 19

Two other etymologies of curfew exist—or at least existed. One is fanciful. It refers to a bulky implement for covering fires. Allegedly, its name gave rise to couvrefeu . Such an implement, regardless of its supposed popularity in the past, has nothing to do with our story. But before coming to the point, let us remember that the custom of putting out fires at a certain hour existed in all medieval Europe, and England was no exception. Therefore, the idea that the curfew was a cruel invention of William the Conqueror , who wanted to humiliate and punish his Saxon subjects, cannot be sustained. It is the French origin of the word that is responsible for the guess. One also wonders why the name of such an important regulation turned up in texts so late: since the curfew, most probably, existed before the Norman Conquest (1066), why don’t we know the Old English form of the word?

In The Gentleman’s Magazine for 1895, Lionel Cresswell published a detailed essay on the origin and history of the curfew (pp. 599-617). Cresswell was a serious researcher, and his paper should be treated with the respect it deserves. Below, I will reproduce his conclusions. As far as we can judge, there never was a general, or even a local, practice connected with the ringing of the bell as a specific signal of a curfew. The second syllable of curfew looks like French feu , but among the many variants of this word, listed in the OED (and Cresswell had access to the volume with the letter C), we find Curfur , Curfoyr , Corfour (the latter was recorded in 1320), and so forth. Let us repeat: was – r added under the influence of the English word for fire ? More likely, says Cresswell, the etymon of such forms was the French word carrefour “a town square, or junction, formed by the crossing of two roads.”

a persuasive essay about covid 19

It was there that the bell was rung for whatever reason, because the nucleus of a town in ancient times was the crossways. “Enlarged, this junction became the market-place or town square, where the Guildhall, chief Municipal buildings, or church stood, around which the inhabitants built their dwellings, and in which they trafficked in their daily business” (p. 610). Creswell noted that “ curfew was frequently applied to a morning as well as an evening bell ” (p. 611 and 612; remember Shakespeare!), a fact never discussed in dictionaries. The junction, the crossing was called Carfax , from Old French (and Medieval Latin ) carreforcs or directly from Latin quadrifurcus “having four forks.” The OED has a detailed and most instructive entry for Carfax . If such is the origin of curfew , the forms with final r were original, and only folk etymology , that is, a popular conception of the origin of the word, associated the English noun with the French word for fire .

This would have been the end of my message, but for a short sequel. In the journal The Academy for August 20, 1904 (p. 136), a letter on the subject that interests us appeared (note the excellent periodicals mentioned above; they contain tons of precious information). The author was Frederick R. Coles (1854-1927; see the article about him on Wikipedia). Coles must have read Cresswell’s essay or known its contents and wrote the following: “We are now told that this [that is, the current] etymology is a striking instance of mistaken popular etymology which has deceived even scholars. The explanation is that the bell was rung in the evening at the crossroads [not only in the evening!]. Dr. Murray is said to have been persuaded of this etymology, but too late for insertion in his new dictionary. Can any reader point to any textual evidence in support of this new etymology, or explain why even scholars have fallen into this error of popular etymology, if such it be?” To the best of my knowledge, no response followed.

It is not clear what Coles meant by “we are now told.” The essay, which antedated the letter by almost ten years, gives an exhausting survey of the relevant data. What “textual evidence” did he expect? And we should hardly be surprised that “even scholars” ( even is repeated twice in the letter) did not guess the truth right away. The entire history of etymology is such: a seemingly inscrutable (or deceptively transparent) word, numerous guesses about its origin, unacceptable solutions (compare the idea of a utensil once called “curfew”), clever conjectures, the disappointing verdict “origin unknown / uncertain / disputed / contested,” an unsafe consensus for want a fully convincing answer, or a true discovery, such that everybody says: “Yes, this is how it was.”

I find Cresswell’s etymology persuasive, but obviously, his or my opinion cannot and should not tip the scale. The question remains open, and we need a discussion. I have written this postscript, intrigued by the statement that James A. H. Murray , the great first editor of The Oxford English Dictionary , “is said [!] to have been persuaded of the truth of this etymology.” What is the source of that statement? Perhaps the etymologists at the OED or those who have for years been working with Murray’s voluminous correspondence, or Peter Gilliver, the author of a book on the making of The Oxford Dictionary , know where and when Murray “was said” to have accepted Cresswell’s reconstruction. I’ll be eagerly awaiting an answer. My search on the Internet yielded no information on this subject. Or have I missed the latest edit of curfew in the OED online? Such things have happened to me in the past.

Feature image by Georgia National Guard via Flickr .

Anatoly Liberman  is the author of  Word Origins And How We Know Them ,   An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction , and  Take My Word For It: A Dictionary of English Idioms .

Anatoly's latest book,  Origin Uncertain: Unraveling the Mysteries of Etymology  (OUP, 2024), is available to pre-order. 

His column on word origins,  The Oxford Etymologist , appears on the OUPblog each Wednesday. Send your etymology question to him care of  [email protected] ; he’ll do his best to avoid responding with “origin unknown.”

Subscribe to Anatoly Liberman’s weekly etymology articles via  email  or  RSS .

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How Biden Can Avenge Navalny’s Death

A photograph of a woman holding a picture of Aleksei Navalny up to the camera.

By Bret Stephens

Opinion Columnist

President Biden said last week that he was “ looking at a whole number of options ” to make good on his 2021 warning to Vladimir Putin that Russia would face “devastating” consequences if Aleksei Navalny were to die in prison. Now that Putin has treated that warning with his customary contempt, Biden needs to act as a matter of moral clarity and personal credibility, and for the strategic imperative of demonstrating to a dictator that American threats aren’t hollow.

But how? Some analysts suggest that the administration, which on Tuesday vowed to impose tougher sanctions, will struggle to find ways to make them more effective, and that the best single policy to hurt Putin is to continue supporting Ukraine militarily. They’re right about the second point. As several close Russia watchers told me, however, there’s much more to be done about the first.

There are four broad approaches.

Finances: “The single most important thing we can do to hit back at Putin is to enact legislation to confiscate the $300 billion of frozen Russian bank reserves for the defense and reconstruction of Ukraine,” Bill Browder, investor and political activist, wrote me on Monday. Browder is best known as the moving force behind the Magnitsky Acts , which put sanctions on Russian officials implicated in corruption and other abuses.

Browder’s suggestion isn’t new. And it’s been resisted by U.S. government officials who fear that it exceeds what American law allows and would encourage a flight from dollar assets. But as the Harvard legal scholar Larry Tribe and a team of experts from the firm of Kaplan, Heckler & Fink noted last year in a report for the Renew Democracy Initiative , seizing Russia’s assets is explicitly allowed as a “countermeasure,” an act designed to compel an aggressor to come into compliance with international law. As for the flight-from-the-dollar argument, it might otherwise be persuasive if the need to save Ukraine and punish Russia weren’t more urgent.

Seizing Russia’s assets “would be like two fingers in the eyes from the West,” Browder added. “Putin doesn’t care how many soldiers are killed, but he cares profoundly about his money. To top it off, all countries should call this new legislation the Navalny Act.”

Recognition: “Do not recognize Putin as the president of Russia after March 17 — that simple,” Garry Kasparov , the legendary chess and human-rights champion, told me by phone from Berlin. “Do not recognize the regime as legitimate.”

Kasparov was alluding to next month’s sham presidential election, in which Putin is running for a fifth term. But he’s also nodding to a deeper point, which is that while Putin might be indifferent to questions of legality, he craves and is keenly attuned to the trappings of political legitimacy, particularly internationally, which bolster his claims to rule.

It’s a point that was underscored to me by the economist Konstantin Sonin , a professor at the University of Chicago who this month was arrested in absentia by a Russian court. “Putin and his henchmen should be recognized and treated as a gang whose hold on power in Russia is based on brute force rather than any kind of legitimacy,” Sonin said. “It does not make sense to negotiate with Putin as any kind of agreement will have to be renegotiated when his regime falls.”

Dissidents: When Natan Sharansky called me from Jerusalem, that great Soviet refusenik, who exchanged letters with Navalny last year , turned almost immediately to Vladimir Kara-Murza, another imprisoned dissident. Like Navalny, Kara-Murza, 42, also survived poisonings and comas. Like Navalny, he’s being held in a “strict regime” penal colony on a 25-year-sentence for his opposition to Putin.

“If there are no changes” to Western policy, Sharansky said, Putin “could kill Kara-Murza tomorrow. The West needs to understand that these dissidents are the real friends of the free world, and they have to be seen as candidates for prisoner exchanges.” Sharansky was particularly critical of the 2022 exchange of a Russian archfiend, Viktor Bout, for the basketball star Brittney Griner, which surely enticed the Kremlin to arrest Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter, last March. “America showed they are a bad bargainer,” Sharansky lamented.

Sharansky is seconded by Reuel Marc Gerecht , a former C.I.A. case officer and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “The great Soviet dissidents taught us that they were fortified by Western attention to their plight,” Gerecht told me. “Today, we don’t know what Russian dissident, what Russian on the cusp of going ‘rogue,’ might galvanize Russians who loathe the regime.”

Power: One of my sources for this column asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of his current position, but he’s a long-admired expert on energy markets. “America’s liquefied natural gas is now part of NATO’s arsenal against Russia,” he told me. Biden, he advised, could “restore U.S. credibility as an L.N.G. exporter by lifting the administration’s ‘pause’ on new L.N.G. permits and thereby give Europe and Japan confidence to stop importing Russian L.N.G.”

While Russia’s oil and gas revenues have fallen steeply since the Ukraine war began, they still came to close to $100 billion last year — enough to finance the Kremlin’s war machine. What else could hurt? David Petraeus , the retired general and former C.I.A. director, had a specific suggestion: “The White House should announce the provision of the Army Tactical Missile System to Ukraine, which would double the range to approximately 300 kilometers of the missiles provided by the U.S. to date.”

Along with everyone I spoke with, Petraeus recognized that those missiles could be provided only if the $60 billion in military aid to Ukraine that the Senate approved last week can overcome a wall of Republican opposition in the House. Every Republican with a memory of what their party once stood for has an obligation to vote for that bill, just as Biden has a duty to ensure that evil will not go unpunished, and that Navalny did not die for nothing.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

Follow the New York Times Opinion section on Facebook , Instagram , TikTok , X and Threads .

Bret Stephens is an Opinion columnist for The Times, writing about foreign policy, domestic politics and cultural issues. Facebook

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