Wijmenga and others in open letter:
‘Dutch corona policy insufficiently science-based’
The letter will be published in Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad on Wednesday. It calls upon the government to employ scientists from a wider range of fields to help make policy. The group is disappointed that the number of Covid-19 infections in the Netherlands has risen faster than in any other western European country and feels this could have been prevented.
‘In our opinion, the Netherlands’ relatively poor anticipation and suppression of a second wave in this pandemic are partially due to the fact that scientific insights into the spread of Covid-19, which have been widely accepted in the scientific community, have been employed too little and too late when it comes to making policy in the Netherlands’, the letter writers say.
Wider use of science
They do not doubt the expertise of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT), which consists of scientists who advise the government about corona, among others, but they do feel the OMT should have more scientists from a wider range of fields. They also say the scientific insights the OMT bases its advice on should be made public, since this would make it easier for the scientific community to compare sources and ‘provide constructive input’.
‘We have the relevant expertise here in the Netherlands, but communication between the scientific community and the RIVM/OMT is less than optimal’, the group writes. ‘Right now, it’s important to reinforce the RIVM to make sure the policy can capitalise on new insights. That’s not happening right now: even the guidelines on the RIVM websites are out of date (as Anthony Fauci, the most important American corona adviser, had to tell us in September, much to our disgrace).’
The English-language version of the letter takes it one step further than the original Dutch one: the group calls upon their fellow scientists to sign up for a public forum that is accessible to all. The group wants to set up a website that will allow ‘a small army of scientists’ to help filter, analyse, and summarise scientific corona information.
They hope this forum can aid in making the distinction between the various scientific insights: those that scientists have reached a consensus about, those that urgently need to be studied more, and those scientists haven’t yet reached a consensus about.