Next PANSOC Webinar

On 6 October at 1600 CET, Alexi Gugushvili, University of Oslo, will present “The COVID-19 Pandemic and War: The Case of Ukraine.”

The COVID-19 pandemic may change the dynamics of existing conflicts or may create conditions for violence through heightened nationalism, xenophobia, or economic hardship. Eastern Europe has been one of the hot spots of the pandemic, and it is currently a location of the most intense interstate armed conflict since the Second World War. In this talk, I will outline possible channels linking pandemics and heightened probability for armed conflict occurrence. I will also describe the COVID-related developments in Russia and Ukraine which preceded president Putin’s decision on the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. 

Contact for a link.

Two latest webinar videos

In case you missed the start of this semester’s PANSOC webinar series, catch up here:

Kirsty Short, The University of Queensland, “Obesity and viral disease: lessons for pandemic preparedness.”

Nele Brusselaers, Antwerp University & Karolinska Institutet & Ghent University, “How science affected Covid-19 policy in Sweden.”

And watch other past webinars here:

Next webinar 29 September (1600 CET)

Sushma Dahal, from Georgia State University, will present: “Investigating COVID-19 transmission and mortality differences between indigenous and non-indigenous populations in Mexico.” (Contact for a link.)

Globally, indigenous populations have suffered worse health consequences during the past pandemic, such as the 1918 influenza pandemic and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Not many studies have assessed the impact of COVID-19 among indigenous groups. Our team studied the mortality impact of COVID-19 among indigenous and non-indigenous populations in Mexico, the country with the highest indigenous populations in the Americas. The webinar presentation will focus on this study’s methods, results, and public health implications.

Study team: Sushma Dahal, Svenn-Erik Mamelund, Ruiyan Luo, Lisa Sattenspiel, Shannon Self-Brown, and Gerardo Chowell.

Bio: Sushma Dahal, MPH is a Second Century Initiative (2CI) Doctoral Fellow in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University (GSU), USA. She was a Fulbright scholar during her MPH studies at GSU. She has previously worked as an epidemiologist at Nepal Health Research Council. Her research interest focus on estimating excess mortality during pandemics, assessing the impact of health emergencies on vulnerable populations, and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases.

Next PANSOC Webinar on 22 September (1600 CET)

Nele Brusselaers, Antwerp University & Karolinska Institutet & Ghent University, will present “How science affected Covid-19 policy in Sweden.” (Contact for a link.)

The Swedish response to the Covid-19 pandemic has stood out from the start. Together with a group of scientists, medical doctors and a human rights journalist, we evaluated how science affected the Swedish Covid-19 policy during 2020. We tried to disentangle who was involved in the decision making and why certain decisions were made, putting everything in a socio-cultural and historical perspective. Our paper published in Humanities and Social Sciences Communications in March 2022 quickly went viral becoming one of the most-popular research outputs ever (nr 131 of 22 million articles ever on September 12, 2022, according to Altmetrics). This shows that the so-called Swedish approach is still a hot topic with very strong defenders and opponents in Sweden and abroad. In addition, I was also involved in another project comparing the health policy, epidemiology and economic consequences of the pandemic in the Nordic region (Irfan et al, Journal of Global Health 2022), the countries which are most similar to Sweden in almost all aspects… Sweden was clearly not the best of this class…

Nele Brusselaers is a Professor in Clinical Epidemiology at Antwerp University in Belgium (Global Health Institute), Associate Professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden (Centre for Translational Microbiome Researcher), and Guest Professor at Ghent University, Belgium. She completed her training as a medical doctor (2008), PhD (2010), master in infection control/hospital hygiene (2010) and first post-doc at Ghent University in Belgium (2012). Nele also obtained a master in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (by distance learning, 2015). Towards the end of 2020 she moved back to Belgium to combine her research in Sweden with a fulltime academic position in Belgium. Nele has extensive experience in clinical, cancer, microbiome and pharmaco-epidemiology by working with the Swedish nationwide health registries, several clinical (microbiome) cohorts and systematic reviews and meta-analyses, resulting in over 140 peer-reviewed articles. She has also been an active member of the Swedish Scientific Forum Covid-19, a group of independent researchers and medical doctors “that disseminates science-based knowledge about the major issues and challenges that the ongoing pandemic have posed to the world and our country”.

The PANSOC Webinar series returns September 15 at 1600 CET!

Kirsty Short, The University of Queensland, will present “Obesity and viral disease: lessons for pandemic preparedness.”

Obesity first emerged as a risk factor for severe viral infection in the 2009 influenza virus pandemic. This was then strongly echoed in the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Here, we discuss how obesity increases the severity of respiratory viral infections and how we can improve pandemic preparedness given the overwhelming number of people who are overweight or obese.

Bio: A/Prof Kirsty Short is head of the Respiratory Virus Pathogenesis Laboratory at the University of Queensland. She investigates the pathogenesis of human influenza virus, avian influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2. Her work covers a broad range of topics including viral evolution, the role of host comorbidities in viral disease and the effect of age on the innate immune response.

Contact for a Zoom link.

Fall 2022 Webinar Schedule

Centre for Research on Pandemics & Society (PANSOC)

We are pleased to announce the fall webinar series. All talks will be held Thursdays at 1600 CET (Oslo time) unless otherwise noted. Please contact if you need a link.

15 September: Kirsty Short, The University of Queensland, “Obesity and viral disease: lessons for pandemic preparedness.”

22 September: Nele Brusselaers, Antwerp University & Karolinska Institutet, “How science affected Covid-19 policy in Sweden.”

29 September: Sushma Dahal & Gerardo Chowell, Georgia State University, “COVID-19 mortality among Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in Mexico.”

6 October: Alexi Gugushvili, University of Oslo, “The COVID-19 Pandemic and War: The Case of Ukraine.”

20 October, 1500 CET: Masato Shizume, Waseda University, The Great Influenza Pandemic in Japan: Policy Responses and Socioeconomic Consequences.”

27 October: Ben Schneider, Oslo Metropolitan University, TBA

3 November: Heather Battles, The University of Auckland, “A historical syndemic? Measles and scarlet fever in the Victorian goldfields.”

17 November: Esyllt Jones, University of Manitoba, TBA

1 December: Tobias A. Jopp and Mark Spoerer, University of Regensburg, “Tracing the temporal and spatial course of the Spanish flu in Germany.”

Next webinar (12 May, 1600 CET)

Carolyn Orbann, University of Missouri, will present “Co-circulating respiratory diseases at the end of the 1918 influenza pandemic.”

The 2020-2021 flu season was among the lowest on record, largely due to the wide circulation of COVID-19 and the measures in place for pandemic control. In this talk, I will present evidence on a variety of respiratory diseases circulating in the US state of Missouri during the 1918 flu pandemic. We will discuss how mortality rates from diseases that typically cause predictable mortality were impacted by the influenza pandemic and how we might understand those changes using a syndemic framework.

Carolyn Orbann is Associate Teaching Professor of Health Sciences at the University of Missouri – Columbia. Her current research interests include infectious disease in historic human populations and the impact of culture on disease spread. She uses historic data, including primary and secondary sources, to understand epidemics in the past, primarily 1918 flu and diseases of colonization in 18th century California. She uses computer simulation models to test ideas about the impact of human culture on infectious disease dynamics. 

Contact for a Zoom link.

Next Webinar 5 May

On 5 May at 1600 CET, Vibeke Narverud Nyborg, University of South-Eastern Norway and PANSOC, will present Different approaches to Public Health Legislation as means in fighting the influenza pandemic 1918 to 1920.

In the decades prior to the outbreak of the influenza pandemic in 1918, Norway had a significant development and focus on public health, including national health legislation and organizing the administration of public health. These legislations were based on international development of medicine, understanding disease and infection, and preventive measures in addition to national uniqueness. Despite this, disagreement and different local solutions to the major health threat caused by the pandemic seem to characterize the use of national legislation as a driving force in fighting the influenza pandemic in Norway. In this presentation I focus on different approaches to explore and understand how national legislation was used, and within what framework local authorities based their decision in trying to fight the influenza pandemic between 1918 and 1920.

Vibeke Narverud Nyborg is Associate Professor in the History of Medicine and Health at University of South-Eastern Norway (USN). Since August 2021, she has been Associate Professor II at PANSOC, working with historical pandemics, focusing specifically on the 1918 flu and national legislation. She has a PhD from USN from 2020 where she focused on conceptual meaning making in historical education of doctors and nurses. For further information, please see her profile on LinkedIn:

Contact for a Zoom link.