Marc Van Ranst, a distinguished Belgian public health doctor and Professor of Virology, delivered an engaging seminar lecture titled "The Nation's Savior: The Story of a COVID-19 Virologist." The event, hosted by the Centre for Translational Medicine, provided valuable insights into Van Ranst's research journey, his work during the COVID-19 pandemic, combating fake news, the challenges posed by social media, and a stimulating Q&A session. A large number of our students participated in the event, and Szent-Györgyi Students from Szeged were also present.

Research Journey and COVID-19:

Professor Van Ranst commenced by sharing his personal research journey, highlighting his extensive experience in virology and computational genomics at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and the Rega Institute for Medical Research. As the appointed Interministerial Commissioner by the Belgian federal government in 2007, he played a crucial role in preparing Belgium for an influenza pandemic.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Van Ranst became a member of the Belgian 'Risk Assessment Group' (RAG) and the 'Scientific Committee Coronavirus.' These roles involved analyzing the risks of SARS-CoV-2 and providing advice to Belgian health authorities, including prognoses on the virus's evolution and spread in Belgium.

Fake News and COVID-19:

Van Ranst shed light on the detrimental impact of fake news and misinformation during the COVID-19 crisis. He emphasized the importance of accurate scientific information and how misinformation on social media platforms posed a significant challenge. He discussed efforts to counteract false narratives, promote evidence-based knowledge, and raise awareness about the risks associated with spreading misinformation.

Challenges of Social Media:

In his lecture, Van Ranst highlighted how social media became a battleground during the pandemic. He shared his experiences of being targeted by online trolls and facing hostility due to his public stance on COVID-19. Despite the challenges, he underscored the significance of engaging with social media platforms responsibly to ensure accurate information reaches the public.

Q&A Session:

The seminar lecture concluded with an interactive Q&A session, where attendees had the opportunity to seek Van Ranst's expert insights on various aspects of virology, COVID-19 research, and public health measures. The session allowed for a fruitful exchange of ideas and further deepened the understanding of the challenges faced in combating the pandemic.

Marc Van Ranst's seminar lecture, "The Nation's Savior: The Story of a COVID-19 Virologist," provided a comprehensive overview of his research journey, insights into the COVID-19 pandemic, combating fake news, and the impact of social media. As a highly respected figure in the field of virology, Van Ranst's expertise and experiences serve as an inspiration to the scientific community, policymakers, and the general public in the ongoing fight against infectious diseases and the dissemination of accurate information.