Tim Büthe, lead-PI of the TUM-PERISCOPE-Project team, represented HfP/TUM at the "High Level Forum on Pandemics – No Time for Neglect" in Berlin. The Forum was jointly organized by the German Ministry of Health (BMG) and the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation & Development (BMZ) with the World Health Organization WHO and other international partners. Prof. Büthe provided an overview of the behavioral research conducted jointly with Janina Steinert, HfP-TUM Prof. of Global Health, and Henrike Sternberg, Doctoral Candidate at HfP/TUM School of Social Sciences & Technology and TUM School of Management. He also called attention to the PERISCOPE Data Atlas and CoronaNet, the largest database of public policies adopted in response to COVID-19, led at HfP/TUM by Dr. Cindy Cheng and Doctoral Candidate Luca Messerschmidt at the Chair for International Relations (Prof. Büthe). He also served as the rapporteur for the working group on Health Information Systems for the Panel on "Health System Strengthening: A Prerequisite for Pandemic Prevention."
Focusing on lessons that can be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to enhance preparedness for future pandemics, Tim Büthe underscored the importance of trust in science and trust in government for citizens. TUM-led behavioral studies, e.g., on vaccine hesitancy across 8 European countries and on compliance with COVID rules and recommendations during the 2nd wave of the pandemic, have shown these factors to substantially affect citizens' willingness to follow health authorities' guidance for epidemiologically responsible and pro-social behavior.
In a comment on epidemiologists' use of "surveillance" (which among epidemiologists simply means gathering, sharing, and analyzing disaggregated public health data for the early detection of outbreaks of infectious diseases) Tim Büthe also highlighted the importance of choosing language carefully when engaging in science communication related to the pandemic, being sensitive to divergent and conflicting connotations that standing terms from scientific expert discourses may have among the general public.
Research, led by the HfP/TUM-PERISCOPE team, on vaccine distribution between the Global North and South and ongoing work on data sharing by patients, was also noted.
As rapporteur of the working group on Health Information Systems for the afternoon panel on Health System Strengthening, Büthe provided an overview of the working group's discussion of key lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic for better preparedness for future pandemics, given the substantial but highly uneven advances in health data and the risk of erroneous inferences due to missing data, especially on marginalized and vulnerable groups.