Croatian Professor Igor Rudan Addresses Media on Coronavirus

Total Croatia News

Igor Rudan is a Professor of International Health and Molecular Medicine at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. The Croatian professor issued a press release intended for the Croatian media and its representatives in the form of a Facebook post on his personal account. 

We have transmitted and translated the post in its entirety below:

”I would like to thank everyone for the truly incredible amount of interest and calls that came to me today from virtually all of the media in the Republic of Croatia, to try to calm the atmosphere that has begun to emerge in Croatia because of the first COVID-19 coronavirus patients, as an internationally recognised expert in the field of global health.

I hope you can understand that as the director of a major global health research centre and the head of a World Health Organisation Collaborative Centre at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, I’ve a lot of work to do over recent days and it’s completely impossible for me to respond to your individual requests. Therefore, in this way, I’ll try, to at least to some extent, fulfill my social task as a scientist who has been involved in this field for a long time and intensively so, and to share some of my thoughts with everyone who has started to feel anxious about this new pandemic in the 21st century.

In addition, I have agreed to be a guest of Mr. Aleksander Stankovic this Sunday, 03/01/2020. on the “Sunday at 2” show. On top of that, I also agreed to accept an interview from Nenad Jaric Dauenhauer for which should be published a week later, on around 08/03/2020.

As well as that, I’ll write something for “Vecernji list”, of which I’m a columnist. All other media have the right to publish sequels to the series I started on Facebook called “Quarantine Wuhan”, in which, throughout the course of this pandemic, I’ll systematically explain everything that I think is essential for in-depth understanding and good information about everything that’s going on. I really won’t be able to offer much more than that, so I’d like to sincerely apologise to everyone in advance.

Whenever I return to Croatia for shorter or longer visits, my friends humorously warn me: “Igor, here in Croatia, caution is not enough. Paranoia is needed!”. If this is true, I’m afraid some people have begun to apply this kind of thinking to the new coronavirus situation. I’d like to say that caution is still sufficient in this case, but paranoia is not really needed.

But the question is just how much caution should this be? Although it’s not right for a serious scientist to predict anything about the spread of a completely new and unknown virus to the entire human population in the world, and to predict each individual event, over the past two months, we’ve gathered enough information about the new COVID-19 coronavirus for at least some predictions.

If the new coronavirus completely spreads over Croatia over time and manages to circumvent the many preventive measures currently in place, its casualties should be at least approximately comparable to the deaths from flu or road traffic accidents over the same period. This means that some sound caution is advisable. This caution is reasonable as long as it’s at the same level as the mild concern you may feel when sitting in your car preparing for a longer journey, or when you hear on the news that the flu has arrived in Croatia.

If you feel the fear of the new coronavirus more than when you sit behind the wheel or hear that the flu is already well known to you, it means that that fear is no longer reasonable and that you’ve begun to succumb to panic. This panic is triggered by the constant media coverage and the way it’s highlighted, rather than by the generally accepted and scientifically based knowledge of coronavirus. If you’ve started to behave differently than you usually do during the winter months, during the flu epidemic, for example, such collecting food supplies or wearing masks down the street, this is again not a behaviour that is in line with the actual magnitude of the danger.

People these days, however, often ask me why is so much written about coronavirus and why do people care so much, when the same level of attention isn’t given to flu, given that flu may be a more dangerous disease? The reason is partly because flu has been a well-known disease for decades, comes back every year, and we have experience with its manifestation in tens of millions of people worldwide, we know how to develop vaccines against it beforehand, and we’ve started to get the first somewhat effective drugs out onto the market.

Unlike the flu, the new coronavirus is unknown to us and we’re most cautious about not being surprised by it. If this virus is of any interest at the moment, then it’s to adapt to the human species as its new reservoir in which it will continue to multiply, and not kill us.

The virus, now spreading through the human species, continues to mutate in order to adapt to us as quickly as possible. Many of these mutations will make it less dangerous for our health, as it will make us more fit. However, some random mutations could make it more dangerous, and we need to be on our guard until we get better acquainted with it and the pandemic is over. It’s unlikely that this new coronavirus will mutate in such a way that it could become significantly more dangerous in those who have been infected than it is now, but we’ll definitely be able to assert that only when the pandemic is over.

I hope that these thoughts will at least calm my readers a little bit, and I’ll offer more detailed information, if everything goes to plan, on the “Sunday at 2″ programme, in my interview for, in my new columns in ”Vecernji list”, and continuously here on Facebook, as well as through the “Quarantine Wuhan” series, which will slowly follow the development of this pandemic and its most interesting stories.

I’d also like to point out to Croatian media representatives that our top scientist Petra Klepac works at the famous London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and she is involved in the modelling of infectious diseases, namely possible epidemics and pandemics of coronaviruses. If you know of more Croatian experts in the world who are involved in this field, be sure to refer to them in the comments below. Also, help share this by making this expert view of the coronavirus go “viral” before the coronavirus itself in Croatia becomes “viral”, so there will be less unnecessary fear.

Thank you all for your interest and feel free to share my follow-up posts on the pandemic.

Prof. dr. sc. Igor Rudan, FRSE

Director of the Center for Global Health, University of Edinburgh
Director of the World Health Organization Collaborative Center, University of Edinburgh
Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Global Health”

This text was written by Igor Rudan and translated by Lauren Simmonds

For rolling information and updates in English on coronavirus in Croatia, as well as other lengthy articles written by Croatian epidemiologist Igor Rudan, follow our dedicated section.


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