Security for Belgian virologists due to threats

Like other Belgian virologists, KU Louvain’s virologist and adviser to the Belgian government, Mark von R ராns, has had police protection since last year. “There are those who cannot distinguish man from bad weather and the weather that predicts it.”

Despite lawsuits and threats via social media, Van Ronst is not afraid. ‘I am especially annoyed with my family. But if it gets out of hand, I will report it to the police. ‘

There is an explanation for the negativity he has had to endure recently. ‘Scientists attract attention during an epidemic, and you can’t avoid it. The most unpopular activities are introduced and you sometimes predict the most unpleasant things. Then there are those who cannot distinguish between bad weather and the weather man who predicts it. ‘

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In the summer, festivals can be organized again in Belgium. Van Ronst did not immediately agree. ‘I look at it with a little skepticism and fear. But everyone wanted relaxation, which the government could not resist. We also need to normalize a lot, which is possible even with vaccines. But immediately for a festival with 66,000 people on the same lawn, it would go a long way. ‘

Van Ronst thinks that when the infection rates fall very quickly as a result of the vaccine, normal life can be gradually resumed, as it was in the United Kingdom and Israel. ‘It is possible when the number of people in the hospital is not higher than during the normal flu period.’

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High plateau

According to von Ronst, the Netherlands is still at the highest plateau in terms of pollution figures, which has not really changed since March. So as usual a summer vacation seems unlikely this year. “That plateau should be slightly lower before you implement critical relaxation,” he says.

What if as a politician you really need a vacation? Von Ronst: ‘As a politician you have a specific job and you have to do it. When you are in the service of your country, you still need to set a good example. There are a lot of beautiful places you can go on vacation in the Netherlands. ‘

Ferdinand Woolridge

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