MOOD reaching out to scientists and decision-makers involved in the COVID-19 national response of Finland

Presentation of the MOOD work on the science-policy interface

From 18 to 21 October, CIRAD political social scientist Alexandre Hobeika, MOOD EB member Timothee Dub, and ITM’s Esther van Kleef met for one week to discuss MOOD’s Disease-X outreach activities in Helsinki. Here we report the notes and insights from Esther van Kleef.

These activities were planned around the recently-conducted MOOD research (acknowledgements go to former CIRAD anthropologist Oumy Thiongane, Marie Meudec (ITM) and Wim van Bortel). With their work, the team aimed to shed light on how scientific evidence, notably those originating from mathematical modelling, has guided the COVID-19 response, and the (challenges in) interactions between stakeholders involved.

Based on an impressive number of interviews with experts appointed to formal national advisory committees of Finland and France, media personalities, and high-level national decision-makers, the team identified a series of controversies and possible improvements of the so-called science-policy interface for future pandemic response management in Europe and elsewhere.

The week’s main activity concerned an interactive workshop held on Thursday with earlier mentioned stakeholder groups involved in the Finnish COVID-19 response (including those interviewed). These activities aimed to (i) share and validate the MOOD study findings and (ii) facilitate cross-disciplinary thematic discussions on how to improve the science-policy interface for future pandemic preparedness and response in Finland.

Furthermore, exchanges and sharing of common interests and potential for future collaboration have taken place between MOOD and THL scientists of the EU-funded projects PANDEM-2 and RECPHEALS.

Similar to MOOD, these studies aim to enhance epidemic intelligence and pandemic preparedness at the European level in co-construction with national and international public health and animal health institutes.

These exchanges aimed to identify overlapping study findings and opportunities for future collaborations. This was followed by a well-attended scientific seminar (>50 attendees) in the middle of the week, where both RECHPEALS and MOOD fed back their findings on the Finnish COVID-19 response.

It was good to see the convergence in findings, but also the complementarity in the focus of the respective works,” states Esther van Kleef in an online reportage of the event to the MOOD communication team.

Joint scientific seminar with RECPHEALS (Resilience, crisis preparedness and security of supply of the Finnish health system)