What can time teach us

Covid-19 Corona pandemic: what lessons we can learn

The biggest lessons he draws from this pandemic are two things, says Professor Ralf Bartenschlager, president of the Society for Virology. In the future, it will have to be better explained how science works and that it is completely normal for knowledge to constantly change and be adapted in the course of research. Politicians should also have invested more in communication:

I think that it should have been much better to take the population on board right from the start in terms of communication, in explaining why things are the way they are, why things are decided that way.

Prof. Ralf Bartenschlager, Society for Virology

And he goes on, with a well-informed population you reap more understanding and they take action better. Hopefully this is not the only teaching on the socio-political side, hopes virology professor Thomas Schulz from the Hannover Medical School:

It starts, for example, with the fact that this epidemic has shown drastically how important good public health structures are. In Germany, the situation was comparatively good last year, we didn't cut our health authorities so radically - we did cut them, but not as radically as in other countries.

Prof. Thomas Schulz, Hannover Medical School

What was missing in Germany, however, was protective clothing such as masks for the medical staff. That must change in the future, so that there is always an emergency reserve, said Schulz.

And what did science learn? There are now three items in bold on the to-do list: The first item is sequencing, explains Ralf Bartenschlager.

We can now use modern sequencing methods - i.e. investigations of the genome of different animal species, but also human sequences - to look up what types of virus are there, for example, in any frog or reptile and how similar is this virus to flu viruses, for example?

Prof. Ralf Bartenschlager, University of Heidelberg

From this it can be deduced how high the pandemic potential of such viruses is. The second major task is likely to be the development of broad-acting antiviral drugs, adds Bartenschlager - a kind of antibiotic for viruses:

In the case of viral infections, we only ever have one drug for exactly one application. And if, for example, we had agents that work against corona in general - coronaviruses or other groups of viruses, for example an anti-influenza agent - then we would be much better equipped for future pandemics.

Prof. Ralf Bartenschlager

But despite such drugs, you couldn't do without a vaccination. The researchers agree that mRNA technology has now proven its great potential. Such vaccines are quick to develop and implement. But there is still one problem, says virologist Schulz. Another point that we would have to worry about is maintaining production capacities for vaccines.

That was outsourced in the interests of internationalization. One of the reasons why we have a problem in the EU right now is that we have too little production capacity. You have to be honest: it costs money. But we're going to have to bite the bullet and spend money on it.

Prof. Thomas Schulz

Because the one who has to pay for all these costs in the end is likely to be the taxpayer. Because it is about very high investments, of which it is unclear whether they will ever pay off.