From our correspondent
Berlin- It took a few weeks to transform Christian Drosten, 48, from an unknown but esteemed virologist from Charit, the largest polyclinic in Berlin, to a prominent figure in the national limelight. No longer an academic closed in the ivory tower of research, but an adviser to the prince in matters concerning the life and death of citizens, popularizer listened to by millions of people, guest disputed by all the talkshow, tireless navigator of social media where he is often hailed as a hero.
the main side effect of Coronavirus, the pandemic that binds two systems with little connection between them: politics and science. Divided by times and objectives – the first call to act and decide quickly, the second to try, possibly to deny and explain – politics and science at the time of the crisis live forced as in an experiment: grappling with a deadly virus, policy makers would like impossible scientific certainties in record time able to justify their choices on existential issues such as health, well-being, freedom.
But the consequences can be paradoxical and dramatic. And Christian Drosten is experiencing it at his own expense. Considered a genius in his field, in 2003 at the Institute for Tropical Diseases Bernhard Nocht of Hamburg he led the team that isolated the Sars-Coronavirus virus, a relative of the current Sars-COV-2, also immediately developing a diagnostic test. A success that earned him at the age of 32 the Bundesverdienstkreuz, the highest civilian honor in the Federal Republic. After a move to the head of the Institute of Virology of the University of Bonn, from 2017 he directs that of the prestigious Berlin Charit.
Now Drosten in the storm. To attack him with harshness and in a prodigious way was the Bild Zeitung, who even questioned his academic integrity, accusing him of having served the interests of politics. According to the popular newspaper, Drosten allegedly used questionable methods and criteria in a study of the effects of Covid-19 on children, which states that their contagiousness is equal to that of adults. The decision of the German government and the Laender to keep schools and nursery schools closed for the time being, even in this phase of reopening, is also based on the indications of that research.. One of the weaknesses would be the low number of children visited for the survey. Citing the doubts of other researchers, out of context and some without even having heard them, Bild branded the study as a fraudster by challenging Drosten to produce arguments in his defense within an hour.
I have more important things to do than to respond to a tendentious article by Bild, the virologist replied via Twitter. Meanwhile, scientists cited in support of his attack by Bild have also distanced themselves. Also because the study was not officially published, but made available to the scientific community to make its observations.
The controversy continues. As a hero, Christian Drosten became a scapegoat. Also because in the meantime, fueled by Bild, the usual suspects of the conspiracy galaxy and the sowers of hatred have unleashed a fierce campaign against him, accusing him of all wickedness. On his Charit office table he even found the original test tube from a Covid-19 test with the word positive and a ticket: Drink it, so you’ll be immune. The police are already dealing with the matter.
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