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The role of translation during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Role of Translation During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Sharing knowledge and information is central to medical and scientific advancement. This has been irrefutably demonstrated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

As the virus has spread from country to country, medical professionals around the world have been learning from the research, information and experiences of their international peers. In the early stages, that information was not readily available. However, as more and more translation teams have joined the battle, now that potentially life-saving information is much more readily available.

Sharing information between medical peers

In the early days of the US outbreak, one of the first recorded coronavirus patients was a doctor’s assistant in New Jersey called James Cai. He reached out to his Chinese peers for information about how to treat the virus, which at that point was only available in Mandarin. Fortunately, the patient’s boss, Dr George Hall, was originally from China, and he was able to work slowly through the treatment guidelines from the Chinese National Health Commission and give the patient the treatment he needed.

This story, as told in the New York Times, ended happily, as the patient was treated in accordance with the guidelines and survived. However, it required 12 straight hours of translation work from Dr Hall to produce what became the early blueprint for the symptoms, signs of mild and severe cases, methods of oxygen delivery and the course of the disease.

Combating misinformation

Sadly, we live in the age of misinformation and the ongoing pandemic has shown just how damaging it can be. At one stage, telephone towers were being destroyed amid 5G conspiracy theories and we were being told by certain soon-to-be ex-presidents that bleach “used inside the body” could be an effective cure. Everything from garlic to saltwater has been hailed as a silver bullet. This misinformation, with the help of social media, has been disseminated across international borders and through language barriers.

Translators have a vital role to play in combating the spread of misinformation. Translators Without Borders and the BBC have created resources in a huge range of languages urging people to fact-check the information they read online before they share it or act on it.

Giving the public access to coronavirus information they can trust

Perhaps the most important role translators are playing in the outbreak is ensuring that reliable information from trusted sources is available to the public. Specialist medical, pharmaceutical and life sciences translators have been working around the clock to ensure vital messages are heard by everyone.

They are experts in the field who can communicate complex concepts such as ‘social distancing’ and translate technical medical information accurately into different languages. That’s more easily said than done when some of the terms that are now widespread have only been introduced in the last few months.

The bottom line

When it comes to creating trustworthy information that could save lives, you need to work with a team of translators who are qualified, vetted and adhere to proper quality control procedures. That’s where we can help.

Just give us a call on 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-international.com for expert translation assistance during this critical time.