In the broadcast on 1 October by the political movement, Schippers, an outspoken opponent of the current strict coronavirus measures, admitted that she is ‘no virologist’, but that Covid-19 was preceded by ‘Covid-1 to 18’ and that there will be a Covid-20, and that the diseases will always take the same course, ‘regardless of the measures taken’.

However, the 19 in Covid-19 is not a number in a sequence but refers to 2019, the year in which the disease was discovered. There have been previous coronaviruses, but the diseases had different names like SARS and MERS. Furthermore, previous coronaviruses did not have the same impact as SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.

‘Wrongly interpreted’

On Twitter, Schippers responded that her claims had been ‘wrongly interpreted’ and she refers to a video on Café Weltschmerz by Emeritus Professor of Immunology Pierre Capel, in which he discusses earlier outbreaks of coronavirus. In contrary to common scientific literature, he calls those outbreaks ‘Covid-5, Covid-12, Covid-11 and Covid-19’.

On Wednesday afternoon, RSM and EUR both responded to the outcry on Twitter. “The claims made by Professor Schippers in the media about the Covid-19 measures are her personal opinions. EUR and RSM emphasise that her vision does not represent the position of the university and RSM and we explicitly distance ourselves from her claims on this subject,” the university writes on its Twitter account.

Total freedom

In response to questions by EM, however, the university says that ‘everyone at EUR and RSM has total freedom of opinion. That opinion certainly does not need to reflect the university’s position.’

When asked whether internal measures had also been taken against Schippers, a spokesperson from the faculty said: “The faculty had an open discussion with Schippers, shared positions, expressed criticism and discussed possible issues. This is how things should be done in a faculty and reflects a healthy scientific approach. We will not be commenting on any measures relating to staff.”

'100 million deaths'

The behavioural scientist from RSM had already criticised Dutch coronavirus policy. In an interview with EM, she claimed that the economic problems caused by the pandemic could lead to 100 million deaths worldwide.

During a symposium organised by coronavirus critics Sven Hulleman and Elke de Klerk on 11 September, Schippers called on people to ignore government measures to tackle coronavirus. “We must not follow the measures. How can they maintain a lockdown if 17 million people do not keep to them?” she asked from the podium.

Schippers has told EM that she does not want to answer questions about her performance on FvD or about the university’s reaction. “We are talking to the faculty and the Executive Board about it. I have no further comment.”

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