On Wednesday 24 June 2020, the European Science Advisors Forum (ESAF) organized a virtual meeting in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The meeting focused on lessons that can be learned from the crisis for providing strategic scientific advice.
In addition to ESAF members and partners, virologist Peter Piot also joined in the meeting, sharing his reflections based on his role as a special advisor to the President of the European Commission. Professor Pearl Dykstra presented a statement by the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors, prepared in collaboration with Peter Piot and the European Group of Ethics in Science and New Technologies. The statement contains several best practices for scientific advisors, including the importance of multidisciplinary advice and transparency about the uncertainty that is intrinsic to a pandemic such as the coronavirus crisis.
Importance of reflection and cooperation
All attendees underscored the importance of cooperation and the sharing of knowledge, as well as the range of challenges associated with providing scientific advice in times of crisis. It is essential to reflect on what can be learned while events are still fresh in everyone’s memory and have not yet been influenced by the rationalizations that come with hindsight.