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DIE ZEIT

Showtime For Epidemiologists: 5 Virus Gurus Around The World

Christian Drosten, Director, Institute of Virology at Campus Charité Mitte
Christian Drosten, Director, Institute of Virology at Campus Charité Mitte

Not since George Clooney was walking the halls of E.R. have doctors gotten so much air time. More particularly, virologists and epidemiologists are taking the lead in guiding us through the coronavirus crisis, both those offering explanations on news outlets and those holding increasingly vital positions of authority who help set national policies in response to COVID-19. Here are some of the highest profile MDs:

  • Massimo Galli: As the first country hit in Europe, Italy was also the first in the West to develop a near daily attachment with an expert of infectious diseases: Dr. Massimo Galli, director of the infectious diseases department at Luigi Sacco University Hospital in Milan, became a household name as his stern, no-nonsense assertions began to fill the Italian media two months back. As the recognition of a true crisis was still impending in less-affected countries around the world, Galli issued sharp warnings to both neighboring France and Spain as well as the U.S., saying that "we're only at the beginning" and that the virus could spread undetected in California and New York as it has in Italy. With a new virus, there are no certainties," he toldCorriere della Sera.

  • Anders Tegnell: Leading an approach to the pandemic that stands virtually alone in Europe, Sweden"s state epidemiologist has attracted worldwide attention for the decision to refuse lockdowns even as the virus has spread at a faster rate than in Denmark and Norway that were quick to impose heavy restrictions. But the soft-spoken Swede has received the criticism with composure, saying to Swedish TV4 that "we are flattening the curve, and the healthcare system is working — our strategy has worked the way we intended."

Anders_tagnell_2020_epidemiologists

Anders Tagnell outside of the Karolinska institute in Stockholm, Sweden Frankie Fouganthin

  • Christian Drosten: Another unlikely hero has emerged in Germany, as Drosten, chief virologist at the Charité university research hospital in Berlin, has become a regular in TV morning show studios. Asked about his sudden fame in an interview with German weekly Die Zeit, he said he "sort of slipped into it." Now, he's even got a podcast Das Coronavirus-Update which, by its second episode, was already the most popular in Germany.

  • Didier Raoult: The flamboyant Marseille-based physician Didier Raoult sparked both hope and criticism in France when claiming his research proved the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine can help fight COVID-19 in late February. But scientists were quick to point out major flaws in the trial, and the journal that published the study announced on April 3 that it did not meet its standards. Academic standards aside, Raoult has become something of an online phenomenon, attracting some 400,000 Twitter followers since he set up an account in early March, and the Facebook group Didier Raoult Vs Coronavirus has gathered some 465,000 members in one month.

  • Anthony Fauci: Much of the intellectual acumen of the leading member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force is applied to fending off the very unscientific ravings of President Donald Trump. But Fauci, the longtime director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has managed to keep both his calm and scientific credibility as he navigates the delicate experience of regularly sharing the stage with Trump. "You stay completely apolitical and non-ideological, and you stick to what it is that you do," Fauci told The New Yorker. "I'm a scientist and I'm a physician. And that's it."

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A Writer's Advice For How To Read The Words Of Politics

Colombia's reformist president has promised to tackle endemic violence, economic exclusion, pollution and corruption in the country. So what's new with a politician's promises?

Image of Colombian President Gustavo Petro speaking during a press conference in Buenos Aires on Jan 14, 2023

Colombian President Gustavo Petro, speaks during a press conference in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 24, 2023.

Manuel Cortina/ZUMA
Héctor Abad Faciolince

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BOGOTÁ — Don't concentrate on his words, I was once advised, but look at what he's doing. I heard the words so long ago I cannot recall who said them. The point is, what's the use of a husband who vows never to beat his wife in January and leaves her with a bruised face in February?

Words are a strange thing, and in literal terms, we must distrust their meaning. As I never hit anyone, I have never declared that I wouldn't. It never occurred to me to say it. Strangely, there is more power and truth in a simple declaration like "I love her" than in the more emphatic "I love her so much." A verbal addition here just shrinks the "sense" of love.

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