A Walk With.. Marion Koopmans
From scientist and head of the Virology-department at a Dutch Hospital to public figure and frequent guest in talkshows: it's the story of Marion Koopmans, who advised the Dutch government on corona-policy as member of the Outbreak Management Team. In a hectic year she found that a pandemic is more than science alone and she played a critical role in Dutch and international politics.
When she was a child she dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. Not only did she fulfill this dream, but in her career as a virologist she spent quite some time researching the role of animals in spreading viruses like COVID-19. During the outbreak of the pandemic, Marion joined the World Health Organization mission to China to research the origin of the corona-virus and experienced firsthand the friction between politics and science. Scientists from the US only focused on one cause, a man-made virus that escaped the lab, and the independent character of Chinese colleagues was not always guaranteed. Also the Netherlands, where Marion advised the government on corona-policy as member of the Outbreak Management Team, was not free of political pressure. Despite this pressure, however, Marion does claim that the OMT has always independently advised the government - contrary to the expectation of critics in the Netherlands.
Pandemic & Disaster Preparedness Center
Lessons were learned from the pandemic and the disastrous consequences. After multiple attempts in the past, Koopmans has once again urged for the establishment of a 'Pandemic & Disaster' research centre, which collects data worldwide to recognize and predict the spread of viruses. With the dramatic effects fresh in our memories, international collaboration to realize such centers is well on it's way. Koopmans is hopeful that centers like this can help prevent pandemics in the future, or limit their damage if they do happen.
In the short term, Marion is still cautious. See the full video to hear more about her expectations of this summer and to hear her answer the question of interviewer Geert Maarse: "Will be going to the music festival Lowlands this year?"
More alumni stories
The future of healthcare in Rotterdam
From flu to pandemic
Impact in times of corona
"We are proud of our people who have made a difference in the corona crisis"