Nicolas Maeterlinck

Flemish virologists go on strike

Many of the country’s leading scientists have announced a communication strike for the weekend in protest against what they see as politicians hiding behind the virologists.  The virologists won’t be available to comment on developments until Monday.

Many virologists, who have become household names in recent months, are among those going on strike.  They include Prof Erika Vlieghe, former head of a panel advising the government on corona measures, and Prof Marc Van Ranst of Leuven University.

The scientists believe that all too often politicians responsible for various fields are refusing to be interviewed about corona measures and are hiding behind the virologists. For the meantime the virologists won’t be making themselves available for interview.

Prof Van Ranst has been keen to stress their protest isn’t aimed at the media, but is intended as a clear signal to the political class.

On Wednesday, despite rising cases,  the security council relaxed corona measures against the advise of many virologists.

In response Flemish health minister Beke, speaking through his spokesman, said: “I am grateful to the many experts for the work they have done in months past, in front and behind the scenes.  It would be a shame if they dropped this role because it’s important for public support for the measures.”

Ignaas Devisch, a medical philosopher and ethics expert, voiced understanding for the strike: “The debate has hardened. There is a lack of political leadership and experts are treated in a negative light.  The gap between recommendations and political decisions has led to social chaos.  People do longer know where to head, while we still need to get through difficult months”.

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