This call comes at a very unusual time, in the middle of a fight against a virus that has already killed thousands of patients, and will affect thousands more. While we already heard so much about the current COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you.
Countries around the world are now scrambling to contain the disease, with policies and mindsets that must evolve rapidly. Many government officials and members of the population do not have the strong scientific background that you have. In this sense, your influence as role models is critical. Please reinforce the messages around hygiene, social distancing and safe behaviors that alone, for now, can dent the progression of the disease. There is a lot you can do, talking to your friends, colleagues or media to fight obscurantism, fear and disinformation by spreading the right messages. As a learned society, we must set an example and encourage the world to listen to the scientists. It is our most powerful weapon; use it generously.
The current circumstances are a stark reminder of the importance of our mission: discovering new biologically molecules to provide tools for a better understanding of cellular biology, and novel drugs to address unmet medical needs. We must take advantage of these exceptional circumstances to learn and educate.
Like so many of you, I have been reading the scientific literature around COVID-19. From a scientific angle, it is exciting; see for instance the structure of the COVID-19 spike protein, the clinical description* of the disease, its epidemiology and statistics. On the other hand, from a human point-of-view, it is frightening. Let us make sure we help sharing the right messages and protect everyone.
I am looking forward to meet you at one of our future events, when the crisis is over.
Until then, please stay safe.
Yves - EFMC President
*Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China. Wei-jie Guan et al. for the China Medical Treatment Expert Group for Covid-19. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2002032