Workshop: Acceptance of crisis management measures (11/31 August 2021)
In Switzerland, the Covid-19 pandemic has been characterised as the most severe crisis since the Second World War. It has challenged the healthcare system, the economy and nearly every aspect of social life. From previous emerging diseases, such as SARS (2003), H1N1 (2009), MERS (2012), Ebola (2014) or Zika (2016), many European nations inferred that viral infections were a concern for countries far away, in part thanks to advances in intensive medicine, public health and technology. The complacency was mistaken, but so would be an overcorrection which could make Switzerland oblivious to other issues.

The Swiss Science Council SSC is the independent advising body of the Confederation for science, education, research and innovation. In its 2020 – 2023 Working Programme, the SSC undertook to investigate which science policy is needed for Switzerland to tackle unexpected challenges. To better understand the topic in all its dimensions, the SSC requested the insights from experts and stakeholders in a three-parts workshop.
Discussions focused on the following issues:

  • Acceptance of crisis prevention and mitigation measures decided by the authorities;
  • Governance and culture of leadership, and especially in the Swiss context, federalism;
  • Communication between authorities, citizens and scientists.

Exchanges were structured in three sessions:

  1. Learning from Covid-19 (11 August 2021, morning)
  2. Learning for the long term (11 August 2021, afternoon)
  3. Learning from the stakeholders (31 August 2021, morning


Impressions and statements
11 August

Andreas Wenger: “We as scientists can update our models every day – for us, it’s all about learning. But if the government has to change its estimation, it has to pay a price.”
Daniel Kübler: “Nothing worse than people just believing scientists telling them that there is no alternative to a certain measure. Public decisions should be only made after debate”.
Eva Maria Belser: “Each day of the crisis is a new crisis. Trust must be earned every day again.”
Marc Höglinger: “Right now, we are in a very dynamic situation and we should not put people into boxes. People that have not been vaccinated so far may still change their mind.”
Marie-Valentine Florin: “As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, we might need a shift from crisis management to risk management.”
Nicolas Levrat: “We should make a difference between the corona pandemic and the corona crisis. Those are different issues and they require different solutions.”
Oliver Nachtwey: “This pandemic is not only biological, but also social. It’s now time for a more integrated approach in science where different disciplines are working together.”
Pascal Wagner-Egger: “More researchers should be active on Social Media, in order to not cede the field to conspiracy theorists.”
Sarah Geber: “As scientists, we should improve our understanding on how to communicate uncertainties regarding scientific knowledge. And the population should be trained on how to cope with those uncertainties.”
Thomas Stocker: “Liability is key, both for the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis.”


31 August