How Covid-19 helped Slovak scientists unite

Scientists hope that the Science Helps initiative will continue after the pandemic.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: Archive of Sme)

When the first cases of Covid-19 appeared in Slovakia more than 18 months ago, epidemiologists and infectologists suddenly became prominent, ubiquitous figures.

They tried to give answers to the public’s pandemic questions - how the virus was spreading, how people could protect themselves, and what would happen in the coming months – on TV, radio, and in newspapers.

But a group of scientists realised that a broader scope of scientific expertise might be more useful in helping people, and the authorities, deal with the situation.

Together, they founded Science Helps, a unique initiative of experts from various fields, which today continues to explain and advise on the pandemic.

“Science Helps connected the unconnectable,” Richard Kollár, spokesperson for the initiative and a mathematician who has modelled Covid-19’s spread, told The Slovak Spectator.

He explained that the expert groups formed by the government, be it crisis staff or advisory bodies, had a very narrow focus of expertise, being made up mainly of epidemiologists and infectologists.

There were no economists, psychologists, or sociologists. They could not offer expertise for all the complex factors involved in the pandemic, Kollár added.

“The establishment of the initiative was a very good thing. Here in Slovakia, it is unique and inspiring,” biochemist Pavol Čekan, a member of the initiative, told The Slovak Spectator.

Connecting knowledge

Science Helps – which apart from issuing statements and recommendations for the pandemic also popularises science in Slovakia – was first created as a communication platform by scientists in the very first weeks of the pandemic in Slovakia.

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