Media Spotlight: CEU's Covid-19 Expert Commentary and Research, November 2020-March 2021

As we mark the one-year anniversary of the outbreak of the pandemic and our university’s move to online teaching, let’s take a look at how CEU faculty shared their knowledge through the media about the virus that has so drastically changed our way of lives.  

CEU Provost Liviu Matei gave expert commentary to The Times Higher Education (THE) regarding the pandemic and the widening gap between education systems, pointing out that higher education in Eastern Europe has improved but there is “still a big gap in terms of research activities and research outputs between the east and west,” which the pandemic only makes worse. Professor Matei was also interviewed by the Council of Europe about the challenges the pandemic brings to the higher education sector in the long-run 

Arguing for climate-neutral cities, Professor Diana Urge-Vorsatz from the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy was quoted in marketscreener.com in an article about Covid-19 and the future of cities. Alumni and sociologist Ondrej Cisar shared his views with eurozpravy.cz about the Czech virus situation and how the Czech government handled the challenge.  

Environmental questions being of key importance, Professor Diana Urge-Vorsatz from the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy was quite frequently featured in the Hungarian media as well. From how Covid-19 has changed the nuclear industry (napi.hu) to whistleblowing that the pandemic is a direct result of how humans exploit the planet (jogaszvilag.hutrendfm.huazuzlet.hu), she called attention to Covid-19 as unlikely to be the last virus that affects the whole world if we do not take action (portfolio.hu and mezohir.hu). 

Director of the Center for Ethics in Law and Biomedicine (CELAB) Judit Sandor also continued to share her expertise in a wide variety of media outlets in Hungary. She explained the ethics behind the waiting lists for vaccinations (valaszonline.hu) and vaccination passports (nepszava.hu), and how the pandemic effected almost each human right and thus formed part of everyone’s life in each age group  and segment of the population (evangelikus.hu). Interviews with Professor Sandor on jelen.media.hu and hvg.hu helped further understand the ethical questions connected to the pandemic. Regarding bioethics, Researcher Peter Kakukk was interviewed by klubradio.hu regarding what a good virus crisis management should take into account. 

Visiting faculty Julia Koltai and Associate Professor Marton Karsai, both from the Department of Network and Data Science were featured in several articles about modeling the pandemic (portfolio.humedicalonline.huprofitline.hu) Karsai also spoke about epidemic modeling at the Hungarian Academy of Science’s event as covered by blikk.hu, and Koltai provided a research overview of anti-vaccination sentiments in Hungary as covered in privatbankar.hu 

Researcher at CEU’s Democracy Institute Peter Rado drew a parallel between the importance of the quality of vaccines and school systems in an opinion piece written for portfolio.hu. Professor at the Department of Economics and Business Miklos Koren’s research was referenced by azonnali.hu in an article about the economic effects of lockdowns during the pandemic, and PhD student Reka Branyiczki was quoted in portfolio.hu about her research work on the willingness of people to keep to virus related restrictions.   

CEU also held events on the Covid-19 theme. On January 27, the leaders of four of the world's most prestigious higher education institutions came together for a forward-looking discussion about how the university sector will change once the pandemic is over at the “Universities in a Post-COVID World event. With welcome remarks and moderation by CEU Rector and President Michael Ignatieff, the panel included Professor and President of Bard College, Leon Botstein, Professor and Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, Carol T. Christ, Professor and Rector of the Wirtschafts Universitat Wien, Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger and Professor and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Louise Richardson, the event was covered by several international outlets (timeshighereducation.comTHEORF and researchprofessionalnews.com 

On February 15 in collaboration with the CIVICA network CEU spearheaded a panel discussion on "Democracy in the Time of Pandemic" as covered by infovilag.hu. The event featured presentations from CEU Rector and President Michael Ignatieff, Bocconi University Professor Catherine E. De Vries, Sciences Po Professor Martial Foucault and London School of Economics Professor and Dean of the School of Public Policy Andrés Velasco.  

Besides media mentions, it is important to highlight the research conducted by Professor Martin Kahanec, Acting Dean of the School of Publicy (“The Impact of Mass Antigen Testing for COVID-19 on the Prevalence of the Disease”), which was based on data from a uniquely designed testing that took place in Slovakia in autumn 2020, and finds that repeated mass antigen testing reduces infections by about 25-30%. In an interview given to dennikn.sk Professor Kahanec explained this research in detail. Research by Professor Janos Kertesz from the Department of Network and Data Science (“Attention dynamics on the Chinese social media Sina Weibo during the COVID-19 pandemic”) focus on how COVID-19 has influenced the attention dynamics on the biggest Chinese microblogging website Sina Weibo during the first four months of the pandemic.

The paper (“Mitigating the Covid-19 effect”) by Assistant Professor at the Department of International Relations Dora Piroska looked at the emergency economic policy-making in Central Europe. Director of CEU’s Institute for Advanced Study Nadia Al-Bagdadi looked at the results of the pandemic from a scientific view together with 31 renowned scientists from all fields of science in the paper “Beyond Corona.” Provost Liviu Matei contributed chapter 13 – Covid-19 and “the crises in higher education” to a book published by the Council of Europe on “Higher education's response to the Covid-19 pandemic - Building a more sustainable and democratic future.”   

You can see previous summaries of CEU expert commentary and Covid 19-related research here (March 2020), here (April-May 2020), here (June-July 2020) and here (July-October 2020).