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The 2019 coronavirus disease (2019-nCoV, more widely known as COVID-19), caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is a global health emergency of unprecedented proportions. The ongoing loss of life globally, articulated differently within individual nations and institutions, ...

The 2019 coronavirus disease (2019-nCoV, more widely known as COVID-19), caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is a global health emergency of unprecedented proportions. The ongoing loss of life globally, articulated differently within individual nations and institutions, as well as the virus’s ability to spread rapidly through communities due to asymptomatic carriers, has generated a need for political response and action through clear, detailed messaging to global constituencies. The rhetoric surrounding the pandemic, however, has been problematic and unevenly disseminated. Political and economic concerns have impacted the messaging goals of global authorities. Political messaging and rhetoric has been influenced by existing strategic narratives promoted by nation states, political agencies, and nationally/globally influential interest groups. In many cases, these strategic narratives are at odds with the messaging recommended by the World Health Organization and other leading public health authorities, creating a conflict of interest that has a direct impact on public message consumption and public health needs.

Strategic narratives drive political messaging and propaganda, and are often applied in the context of war and security threats to legitimize military/paramilitary action. Discussions of the impact of COVID-19 have included references to government action that bear the characteristics of war-time discourse. In many cases, politicians have also laid claim to wartime labels in order to justify their policy directives. These claims echo historical patterns associated with national and global crises, ranging from pandemics to economic collapse. There is currently a lack of interdisciplinary research and focus on the communication practices influencing the construction and maintenance of these strategic narratives. Furthermore, there is a paucity of research on the impact of global crises on existing strategic narratives, as well as on the interaction between political and economic narratives on the one hand and narratives rooted in health communication policies and procedures on the other. Research into strategic narratives and pandemics is yet another area currently lacking substantive investigation. Since January 2020, a robust body of research has been emerging from medical disciplines such as virology, immunology, epidemiology, microbiology, bioinformatics, radiology, and phylogeny. Unfortunately, there is little to no scholarly work emerging from non-medical disciplines. This Research Topic contributes to the emerging literature by focusing on the political and cultural impact of the novel SARS-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic and the mediated discourses surrounding the pandemic.

Given the vast attention to and interest in the pandemic and the need for thorough analysis of the risk perceptions and communication about SARS-CoV-2, this Research Topic aims to analyze the political and politicized discourses surrounding COVID-19. The misperceptions of risk have, in some cases, led to increased fatalities and pathogenic exposure. The choices made by heads of state and political leaders are rooted in existing strategic narratives, i.e. in a type of metanarrative aimed at driving public opinion and garnering support for political institutions, actions, policy, and specialized political interests. We seek a wide range of interdisciplinary submissions that address such narratives from areas including, but not limited to:

• Political communication
• Health communication
• Media studies
• Cultural studies
• Social media studies
• Medical sociology
• Strategic risk and crisis communication
• Communication ethics
• Policy and legal ethics
• Sociology, race and ethnicity studies
• Political science
• Public policy
• International relations
• Public health data visualization
• Peace and conflict studies
• Health and social psychology
• History of crisis communication
• Medical history
• Medical humanities

We encourage paper types including, but not limited to: original research, reviews, mini-reviews, opinion pieces, hypothesis and theory articles, perspective papers, and case studies. Article submissions should be in English, but we welcome discussions of strategic narratives conducted in languages other than English.

Due to the exceptional nature of the COVID-19 situation, Frontiers is waiving all article publishing charges for COVID-19 related research.

Keywords: Novel SARS-Coronavirus-2/SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19, Digital Media, Mis/Disinformation, Political and Governance Institutions, Public Health Communication

Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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