Germany: an eminent virologist target of virulent attacks

Allemagne: un éminent virologue cible de virulentes attaques

The virologist berlin Christian Drosten, one of the world’s most eminent experts on the COVID-19, became the scapegoat mindset of the conspiracy theorist and critics of the restrictions in Germany, to the point of being threatened with death.

Pasted on a street lamp in the centre of Munich (southern Germany), a sticker draws attention. It recognizes Mr. Drosten, whose face is now familiar throughout Germany, and Josef Mengele, the doctor of the nazi Auschwitz nicknamed the “angel of death” for his experiments on the deportees. “Trust me, I’m a doctor “, indicates the caption of the sticker.

In a few weeks, the director of the Institute of virology of the great Charité university hospital in Berlin, became the target of the anger towards the restrictions related to the pandemic began in April with weekly events throughout the country.

Unknown to the general public a few months ago, his name appears alongside those of chancellor Angela Merkel or the minister of Health, Jens Spahn, of which the protesters are a heteroclite assembly of followers of conspiracy theories of right-wing extremists, but also of Germans are worried, call for the immediate resignation.

This forty-something woman with the tousled look and the dark circles dug found himself propelled into the spotlight after you have designed as soon as January, the first test of simple diagnosis of the COVID-19, he has made immediately available in the world.

Death threats

Very quickly, he becomes one of the voices of the most respected in the country on the subject. Chancellor Angela Merkel, herself a scientist, asked for his expertise at the time when it must decide of a possible containment.

It is also a podcast for regional public radio NDR that it becomes popular, explaining the new coronavirus and its risks in clear terms to the Germans anxious.

Yet by the end of April in the british newspaper, The Guardian, Christian Drosten reveals the subject of death threats. On Tuesday it announced that it had received a package with a sample of so-called positive COVID-19 and this message: “Drink this – You will be immune like that.”

Threats sufficiently serious for the minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer, ensures follow all this very closely with a strategy of zero tolerance “.

Since this week, it is the tabloid Bild, which is leading the charge against this doctor celebrated in the rest of the press as a “scout of the nation” or even ” a star “.

It all started when Christian Drosten was released Monday on Twitter an e-mail to the newspaper giving a time to react to criticism raised by scientists in a study that concludes that children infected by the new coronavirus ” could be as contagious as adults.

“Grossly false”

The doctor had said that he had “better things to do” than to answer in the journal.

Replica of Bild on its internet site the same evening: the study of Mr. Drosten is “grossly wrong,” says the journal, based on the criticism voiced by several scientists who have then claimed to have never been contacted by Bild.

Since then, its editor-in-chief, Julian Reichhelt, defended to lead a campaign against Mr. Drosten, such as the claim that some. It is “no matter what, and invented” to claim it, according to him.

This confrontation with one of the logs the most powerful ones in Germany, despite the recent decline of its readership, has sparked an avalanche of reactions.

For Der Spiegel, it is its role of counselor to the government which has drawn the ire of those who now sees him as ” a political adversary that must be attacked “.

And issue a warning. “All of this is highly dangerous, ( … ) The atmosphere in the country is toxic at a level of concern “.

Since the beginning of the health crisis, this scholar that we meet in the morning on his bike in a berlin district “bobo” insists however on the fact that ” science has no political mandate “.

In any case, he is not cowed by the threats and does not mince his words with regard to the so-called “experts” who are spreading “anything in the world” and thus give grist to the conspiracy.

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