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First meeting of the Pandemic Council in Germany

The new German government led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has established an interdisciplinary Pandemic Council to advise the government on upcoming decisions in the coronavirus pandemic.

A pandemic is a complex exceptional situation in which the right decisions at the right time by politicians are necessary to bring a society through the crisis in the best possible way. To provide a scientific foundation for political measures, the United Kingdom, for example, has a Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). The composition of the SAGE is based on the nature of the emergency and is designed to ensure that coordinated scientific recommendations are made available to policymakers.

In Germany, there has not been such a body so far. Politicians were advised by various experts on an individual basis. This sometimes led to resentment, as certain groups felt that they were not being heard and opposing assessments were widely reported in the press. In addition, it gave some media cause for speculation about influence by individuals, which prompted the BILD newspaper, for example, to call the virologist Christian Drosten "the chancellor's corona whisperer".

The new German government has now decided to establish a Pandemic Council to advise the government on how to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The council is made up of 19 different people who are expected to contribute a variety of expertise. In addition to virologists and physicians, the panel also includes psychologists, modelers, a bioinformatician, a medical ethicist, and one representative each from the public health service and local government. Even though the committee cannot cover all disciplines, this is a first official approach to support policy through interdisciplinary scientific recommendations.

With Christian Drosten and Lothar Wieler, two members of the Zoonoses Platform are also represented in the panel. We wish the Pandemic Council a successful and productive collaboration. The first meeting is scheduled to take place on Dec. 14, 2021.

Text: Dr. Dana A. Thal, German Research Platform for Zoonoses

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