Tension between Switzerland’s scientists and politicians is rising, according to RTS.
On Saturday, Christian Althaus, an epidemiologist working for the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force, Switzerland’s scientific Covid advisory team, announced his resignation and voiced his frustration on Twitter.
“One of the reasons why I left the scientific task force this week. Politicians must finally learn to face science on an equal footing”, Althaus tweeted, referring to an article in the Aargauer Zeitung about how some government ministers are annoyed by Task Force findings and advice being communicated to the public.
Earlier in the week Althaus’s frustration was apparent when he tweeted: “Ticino has had 825 deaths in connection with # COVID19 since the pandemic began. Extrapolated to Switzerland, this would correspond to over 20,000 deaths. An enormous number. #notlikeflu”
Althaus is not the first member of the scientific team to resign. In June 2020, Matthias Egger, the then head of the Science Task Force had warned publicly that it was too soon to relax restrictions, advice that was not followed by the government. In an interview on RTS on 25 June 2020, Egger responded awkwardly to a question on criticism from politicians about the Science Task Force publicly communicating its concerns on lifting restrictions. Then on 17 July 2020, Egger resigned.
More recently, there have been clashes over the calculation to reproduction rates, which suggested infection rates had risen.
In addition, infectious disease experts have become targets of insults and threats, according to RTS. Researchers, epidemiologists and vaccine experts and others have received aggressive comments by mail, via social media and telephone. Didier Pittet, the head of infectious disease control at Geneva’s HUG hospital, has been accosted in the street.