Stigma and shame have been features of past pandemics. The stigma associated with disease can be experienced as shame by those who spread it. In almost all human cultures, there is shame attached to being “contaminated”, to the vulnerability inherent in illness, and to potentially spreading a disease to others. As previous pandemics have taught us, coming into contact with, or being associated with, a highly infectious and potentially deadly disease has social consequences. Hence, it is no surprise that stigma and shame have developed around COVID-19. Although there have been outpourings of support and admiration for health-care workers for their dedicated service in this pandemic, health professionals have also been among those directly affected by shaming practices
As part of the AHRC funded Scenes of Shame and Stigma in COVID-19 project, Luna Dolezal, Arthur Rose and Fred Cooper discuss, in their recently published COVID-19, online shaming, and health-care professionals article in The Lancet, how shame has been part of healthcare workers’ experience during the COVID-19 pandemic because of social media use and instances of online shaming.