Two for one! September 2 Webinars (1700 CET)

PANSOC’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) candidates will be presenting their proposals and preliminary insights. We hope you will join us to learn more about these exciting projects! This week only, we will have a delayed start at 1700 CET. Contact if you need a Zoom link.

Alexandra (Sasha) Blinkova, Herzen State Pedagogical University (St. Petersburg) 

Religion and COVID-19 in social media: a case of Russia and Belarus

COVID-19 is not the first pandemic the world has faced but it is the first pandemic that has changed religious practices and religious authorities’ structures worldwide due to the use of social media platforms in dissemination of religious views and services. Russia and Belarus, two Eastern European, predominantly Russian-speaking, former Soviet countries, are not unique in how religious sources of information influence the part of society that tends to rely on them in times of overwhelming stress and uncertainty like pandemic. Nevertheless, Russia and Belarus are an intriguing case for comparison because while they are both predominantly Orthodox Christian societies and belong to the same religious organization, i.e., the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), the level of societal trust in church authorities in Russia and Belarus varies greatly. In particular, due to dramatic changes in Belarus for political reasons, information coming from official religious sources is expected to be considered less trustworthy and valuable by the recipients. This project will explore whether this hypothesis also applies to unofficial religious voices on social media platforms, such as bloggers (both clergy and lay), journalists, and celebrities. Moreover, it will determine whether religious infodemic, an epidemic of religious information in this case related to coronavirus, has a detrimental effect on shaping attitudes towards vaccination and recognizing COVID as a real health risk for everyone.

Ana Vuin, Charles Darwin University 

Regional Health Professional’s experiences during the COVID-19 crisis: Is there a mismatch in between the theory and practice?

COVID-19 Pandemic affected communities worldwide and had a massive impact on the livelihoods of both urban and rural populations and their physical and mental well being. However, there is a limited understanding of challenges regional practitioners and allied health professionals go through during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The available literature is more focused on the ‘general’s public trust, confidence, mental health and challenges’ rather than exploring such matters on a healthcare (provider) level. Even before COVID-19 Pandemic, Regional communities were struggling with the limited numbers of health facilities, healthcare options, reduced staff, challenging process of recruitment and retention, mental health support (including building rapport in such circumstances), so the additional burden of Pandemic can only contribute to the already existing challenges healthcare professionals experience in these areas. My research aims to explore the initiatives and strategies that were developed to support the health professionals during these times, and compare them with the lived experiences of Norwegian (and potentially Swedish) regional health professionals amid COVID-19 Pandemic. The common knowledge is that the realities of ‘regional or rural’ living are different from urban, therefore the healthcare professionals practicing in such areas will have significantly different experiences too. For that matter, it is necessary to hear their voices and explore their perspectives, challenges, and coping mechanisms as they are the backbone of these communities- providing healthcare services to vulnerable populations. 

Carla Louise Hughes won the Student of the year award at OsloMet

Carla Luise Hughes sammen med Rolf Martin Aspenes og Nina Waaler foran en gul vegg på OsloMet

We are thrilled to share with you that PANSOC affiliated student Carla has won Student of the Year award at 2020/2021 at OsloMet.

Student of the year is a prestigious award given to a student who has excelled in their efforts for the study and learning environment, and has been a role model for other students. Carla was nominated for the following reasons:

Having moved to Norway during the pandemic from the UK, making connections with anybody at all was a challenge, but Carla has nevertheless built a great network wherever it has been possible. She made the very most of her time here. This included spending time with her new friends and other international students during special times of the year (Christmas, New Year, Easter etc.). After being affiliated with the Centre for Research on Pandemics & Society (PANSOC) in 2021, she also suggested other fellow students to contact and become part of PANSOC.

Carla’s affiliation with PANSOC and the extra-curricular Norwegian language classes that she takes at OsloMet are great examples of how she has excelled and strengthened her studies in a positive way. This is also alongside continuing to receive good grades in her mandatory studies and engaging in the Buddy-program which unfortunately was canceled due to Covid-19.

Carla contributes to OsloMet’ s reputation through social media both personally and through her student staff work with OsloMet social media. Part of her success in this role has been widening OsloMet’ s international audience by consistently sharing information in English. Carla’s community involvement and understanding of people’s lives and background can also be mostly demonstrated by a particular video where she discusses tips on how to live as an international student during corona, where she highlight the need to care for our mental and physical health during this time.

Carla Louise Hughes is a great ambassador for OsloMet.

You can read more about Carla and her price here:

Meet Christina Stylegar Torjussen, our new PANSOC-affiliated masters student

Cristina is a student at Southeastern Norway and has Professor Ole Georg Moseng as her advisor. She will, however, be affiliated with PANSOC for the academic year 2021-22. Please read more below about her exciting project on the terrible pandemic death toll on a Norwegian naval ship in 1918.

Tell us about your project:

My master´s thesis will address how the 1918 influenza pandemic influenced morbidity and mortality on the Norwegian naval ship “Kong Sverre” who received 500 new recruits in October 1918. This particular crew suffered a massive loss during the autumn 1918, despite it being an exercising military ship in a neutral country. I will use rich quantitative and qualitative source material to study why almost one in three of those who fell symptomatically ill died. 

You are starting a project about a historical pandemic in the middle of a current pandemic. How does that feel?

It is interesting to learn more about a historical pandemic, while at the same time live through an evolving pandemic. There are both differences and similarities between the 1918 influenza and COVID-19. While young adults were hardest affected in 1918, it is the elderly who have the highest risk of a severe disease in 2020. Just as in 1918, crowded conditions and lack of early interventions also resulted in massive spread disease in 2020. Examples are massive spread of COVID-19 among tourists in crowded after-ski bars in the Alps, on cruise ships in Japan and at meat packing plants in the USA.

Why are you doing a masters in Norway and with PANSOC?

I´m currently on the last year of my history teacher education at the University of Southeastern Norway. Because I wanted to write a thesis on the 1918 influenza, my Professor Ole Georg Moseng advised me to contact Svenn-Erik Mamelund at PANSOC. After coming up with the idea to study the catastrophic case of Kong Sverre, I was happy to accept an affiliation with PANSOC

What are your plans for a future dream-project in academia?

I would love to continue doing pandemic research. It would be exciting to analyze outbreaks of COVID-19 on naval ships to make a comparative study of the pandemic disease burden in the military in 1918 and the current pandemic.

It would also be thrilling to do a comparative study on other aspects of the two pandemics, such as how social inequality in health would affect the outcomes of lethality in both pandemics.

PANSOC-affilated student among three finalists for Student of the year at OsloMet

It is a great pleasure for us to announce that Carla Louise Hughes, a masters student in International Social Welfare and Health Policy and PANSOC-affiliated student is among the three finalists for Student of the year. Student of the year is awarded to a student who has excelled in their efforts for the study and learning environment, and has been a role model for other students. The winner will be chosen and the prize will be awarded by the end of August.

You can read more about the 3 candidates here News – Student – minside ( and also about Carla’s masters project here: Meet our new Masters Student: Carla Louise Hughes – Centre for Research on Pandemics & Society (PANSOC) (

How badly has COVID19 impacted excess deaths?

We at PANSOC have been co-authoring a preprint that might help answer that question using 100 years of data from three countries including Sweden, Switzerland and Spain. We looked at age adjusted monthly estimates of excess mortality to show that in 2020 these countries recorded highest monthly excess and all-cause mortality levels driven by an infectious disease since the 1918 pandemic.

The preprint can be downloaded here 37204759 (


Webinar August 19: Racial Disparities in Mortality During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in United States Cities

Our webinar series is returning for the fall semester! Please join us for the first talk on August 19 at 1600 CET. Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, University of Minnesota, and Martin Eiermann, University of Berkeley will present: “Racial Disparities in Mortality During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in United States Cities” 


The 1918 influenza pandemic stands out for its extreme virulence and unusual age pattern of mortality. A third feature merits the same level of scrutiny and scientific prominence: against a historical backdrop of extreme racial health inequality, the pandemic produced strikingly small ratios of nonwhite to white influenza and pneumonia mortality in the United States. We provide the most complete account of these racial disparities in U.S. cities in 1918 to date, showing that they were almost uniformly small across cities. We also advance and evaluate four potential explanations for this result, including racial differences in: (1) socio-demographic factors like segregation, (2) exposure to city-level implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), (3) exposure to the spring 1918 “herald wave,” and (4) early-life exposures to other influenza strains that could have resulted in differences in immunological vulnerability to the 1918 flu. While we find little evidence for explanations related to residential segregation, NPIs, or partial immunity induced by the herald wave, our results suggest that racial variation in early-life exposure to influenza—in particular the 1890-1892 pandemic—likely shrank racial disparities during the 1918 pandemic. We also find suggestive evidence consistent with a behavioral response to the herald wave. In providing new evidence of the patterns and potential drivers of racial inequality in mortality during the 1918 pandemic, our study underscores the importance of considering interactions between the natural history of a particular microbial agent and the social history of the populations it infects in the study of infectious disease patterns.