Disagreement over the role of task force – SP warns of muzzle for science

The National Council’s Economic Committee wants to control the Covid task force. Cédric Wermuth, SP’s co-chair, cautions that the trade lobby wants to silence all research.

Economic politicians want to prevent Martin Ackerman, chair of the Covid-19 task force, from making public demands on Corona policy.

Economic politicians want to prevent Martin Ackerman, chair of the Covid-19 task force, from making public demands on Corona policy.

Photo: Peter Schneider (Keystone)

Martin Ackerman, head of the Scientific Task Force, has long alarmed bourgeois politicians and business associations with his urgent warnings about the epidemiological situation. They accuse him and other staff members of largely shaping the Coronavirus policy for the Federal Council and closing restaurants and stores. In the future, staff members should be prohibited from making such recommendations publicly. The National Council did this The WAK decided with a brief decision.

In the opinion of SP Commissioner and Co-Chair, Cedric Wermott, the muzzle not only affects the task force, it affects all scientists who comment on Covid-19. The corresponding legal text is drafted publicly and is not explicitly named by the task force: “The public is informed of Covid-19 exclusively by the Federal Council and Parliament.”

If we take into account literally, not only the staff, but also, for example, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), other offices, cantons, and research institutions in universities and hospitals have been affected, Wermuth warns in one Opinion On Instagram. And an article of the law must be taken literally. The aim of the Economic Committee is to silence critical objections to its demands for uncontrolled openness.

‘Vague interpretation’

WAK vice president, Leo Muller (center) denies this. The passage, which WAK approved by a majority of 13 to 10 votes with two abstentions, only affects the scientific staff. “The work team should not exert public pressure on the Federal Council through its assessments of the situation and claims before decisions of the Federal Council or criticizing the decisions of the Federal Council as insufficient.”

However, this requirement applies “exclusively to the staff and its members in the course of this activity” and not to other scientific institutions or other experts, Mueller says.

The Covid 19 Science Task Force, here with President Martin Ackerman and Vice President Monica Butler, is regularly appearing in front of the media as a sound of science warning.

The Covid 19 Science Task Force, here with President Martin Ackerman and Vice President Monica Butler, is regularly appearing in front of the media as a sound of science warning.

Photo: Peter Clonzer (Keystone)

WAK member Beat Walti considers Wermuth’s explanation “ridiculous.” Freedom of expression and the media apply in Switzerland. Consequently, parliament will not have the power to silence the flag, says the leader of the FDP parliamentary group. But the staff’s polyphonic communication always causes confusion among residents, Walti and Mueller say. Mueller is also upset by the fact that the task force is not presenting its fundamentals to the entire Federal Council, but to Alain Bercet’s Home Office.

Task Force on its part She insists on her right To make an independent assessment of the situation. “It is the case today” that public information about the Federal Council’s actions on Covid-19 is provided exclusively by the Federal Council and Parliament.

Hide scientific facts

Voices from academia outside the committee are warning against a downsizing of the staff. First, the task force owes nothing to Parliament, as it operates on a voluntary basis, Dina Pomeranz, an economist at the University of Zurich, wrote on Twitter. Second, the worst response to any pandemic is to turn a blind eye to scientific facts.

The independent “think tank” Reach is also concerned. Scientific knowledge is essential to get out of the Corona crisis. A press release stated that “masks and restrictions imposed on scientific freedom not only undermine effective solutions, but also contradict the principles of a democratic constitutional state.”

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