“We need to honestly reflect upon where we responded well in the current pandemic, where we were just lucky, and where we must be much better prepared next time,” says Christof von Kalle, head of the Clinical Study Center of the BIH and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin as well as Scientific Chair of this year’s Future Medicine Round Table. These questions will be the focus of the panel discussion on pandemic preparedness, in which Christof von Kalle will be joined by Professor Leif Erik Sander, vaccine researcher and infectiologist at Charité, and Professor Veronika von Messling, Director-General for Life Sciences at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Dr. Michael May, Vice President and Medical Director of Bristol Myers Squibb Germany, urges us not to forget the many “silent victims of the pandemic”: “The biopharmaceutical industry achieved great things during the pandemic. Yet at times the pandemic severely affected the care of patients, especially those with serious chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Operations, treatments, preventive examinations and much more were delayed or did not take place at all, which will have consequences that cannot yet be foreseen.” Here too there’s much to learn and improve on for future pandemic scenarios, he says.
Professor Christopher Baum, Scientific Director of the BIH and Chief Translational Research Officer of Charité, is also convinced that the research community has made outstanding contributions in the fight against the pandemic. “What particularly impressed me was the willingness to collaborate, which also has a positive impact on the quality of the results. Where researchers usually vie to publish their studies as fast as possible in the most prestigious journal, the aim was now to work together in the best possible way and quickly make the results publicly available. We should keep on in this spirit even after the pandemic.”
In the closing keynote, Dr. Oliver Morgan, Director of the Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessment Department in the WHO Health Emergencies Program, will provide a global perspective. Although WHO has amassed a wealth of experience in managing epidemics and pandemics, it is also clear that the world still has a lot to learn when it comes to distributing vaccines, providing auxiliary and protective equipment, or collecting data.
Due to the pandemic, the Future Medicine Round Table was held as a hybrid event again this year. The panelists convened at the studio of the public broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb), while the audience participated from home. The discussion was held in English.
Recap of the Future Medicine Round Table 2021
On 4 November 2021, the Future Medicine Round Table took place in Studio 14, the rbb roof lounge, and was broadcasted live. After opening remarks by Prof. Christopher Baum, Chair of the BIH Board of Directors and Chief Translational Research Officer of Charité, and Stephan Casdorff, Editor-in-Chief of the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel, the audience was given illuminating insights into the “new” daily routines of young scientists. In his following keynote speech, Dr. Michael May, Vice President and Medical Director of Bristol Myers Squibb Germany, presented three key arguments regarding the question “Are we prepared for the next pandemic?”. In the main part of the virtual event, Prof. Christof von Kalle, head of the BIH-Charité Clinical Study Center; Prof. Professor Veronika von Messling, Director-General for Life Sciences at the BMBF; and Prof. Leif Erik Sander, Professor of Immunology of Infectious Diseases & Vaccinology at Charité; explored this question in depth, especially in light of the fact that the next pandemic we encounter will be the currently approaching fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The panel discussion was preceded and followed by screenings of short films in which scientists from various fields presented their most recent findings and innovations in SARS-CoV-2 research. Dr. Oliver Morgan, Director of the Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessment Department in the WHO Health Emergencies Program, concluded the event with a keynote address that put the issue of pandemic preparedness in a global perspective. The Future Medicine Round Table 2021 was moderated by political correspondent Michaela Küfner. The recording of the event is now available for viewing on the event website.
In the run-up to the event, the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité and Der Tagesspiegel asked international scientists to send in short films about their most recent findings in SARS-CoV-2 research. These presentations of their innovative contributions to understanding and combating the pandemic can be viewed individually on the event website and as a 16 minute compilation on our YouTube channel.