Marc Van Ranst absent from revamped coronavirus expert group
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    Marc Van Ranst absent from revamped coronavirus expert group

    Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst © Belga

    A revamp of the CELEVAL expert group advising the government on the coronavirus pandemic has notably seen top virologist Marc Van Ranst step aside

    Van Ranst, an outspoken virologist who has been part of the core team of experts advising the National Security Council (NSC) on the pandemic, is set to stay on as a replacement for virologist Erika Vlieghe.

    Vlieghe had previously chaired the Group of Experts for an Exit Strategy (GEES), which advised the government as it eased the country of the coronavirus lockdown.

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    His departure from the core team comes amid a revamp of the expert group announced by the government as it seeks to swap out restrictive social and economic rules for measures who can “teach us how to live with the virus.”

    “This will be the group that will teach us how to live with the virus,” CELEVAL chairman and director of the federal public health service (FPS Health) told De Standaard, echoing previous remarks by Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès.

    Amid the new members of the CELEVAL figure Lieven Annemans, a university professor of health economics in Ghent and Brussels who has been critical of the restrictive character of the latest coronavirus measures.

    Annemans is notably one of several signatories of an open letter calling for measures which have been “scientifically proven as efficient and proportionate” and which have no “negative collateral effects and which respect democracy.”

    The new CELEVAL team also include Vinciane Morel, a representative of the culture and events sector, in a nod to an industry which has been heavily hit by the wave of even cancellations and job losses throughout the lockdown.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times