The Machiavelli Foundation, which presents the award annually, announced the winners of this year’s award on Tuesday afternoon. “They are able to distinguish between facts and fiction regarding the virus in readily understood language, and they do so enthusiastically and tirelessly,” according to the jury’s statement. During the coronavirus crisis, virologist Marion Koopmans and Chairman of the Dutch Association for Intensive Care Diederik Gommers came to be prominent voices in the public debate on the crisis.
Virologist Koopmans is a frequent guest on talk shows and has given many interviews over the last few months, as has intensive care doctor Gommers. Gommers received a great deal of praise for reaching out to vlogger, influencer and singer Famke Louise, who was one of several artists to say last September that she was no longer going to abide by the coronavirus restrictions and received a lot of flak for doing so. After a few conversations with Gommers, she recanted her earlier statements. This inspired Gommers to create an Instagram account, so as to be able to reach different people with information on the coronavirus pandemic.
This action, too, seems to have impressed the Machiavelli Foundation’s jury, judging from the following statement: “The conscious quest for dialogue with science sceptics and opponents of the [government’s] policy has resulted in a better understanding [of the virus], particularly among young people.”
Last year the Bellingcat investigation team was awarded the prize for the innovative way in which it conducts investigative journalism. Previous recipients included the late Mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, former manager of the Dutch men’s football team Bert van Marwijk and Queen Máxima. Gommers and Koopmans will be presented with the award on Monday, 15 February.