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Corona Crisis: Once Upon a Pandemic
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Corona Crisis: Once Upon a Pandemic

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'Corona Crisis: Once Upon a Pandemic' is a podcast that explores the watershed event in world history from an array of perspectives. Together with expert guests that are engaged with managing and making sense of the global coronavirus outbreak, podcast hosts Eric Paglia and Marc van den Bossche discuss different dimensions of the pandemic, with a focus on crisis management at the national and international levels, and the long term societal and geopolitical implications of the COVID-19 contagion.
22 Episodes
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As the pandemic’s second wave washes over much of the world, it is worth considering if and how authorities, organizations and personnel engaged with combating the coronavirus manage to learn over the course of such crises, and adapt their operations accordingly. Prof. Daniel Nohrstedt of Uppsala University joins the podcast to explain the concept of adaptation as it relates to crisis management, particularly in the context of COVID-19 and Sweden, and how a major crisis like the 2020 pandemic can provide a window of opportunity for far-reaching transformation.  
Touted as a tool to forewarn policymakers of outbreaks at the local level, tracking COVID-19 through wastewater can complement traditional testing and provide unique and potentially actionable insights into the spread of the virus across the entire population of a given area. This episode of the podcast features an interview with Dr. David Nilsson, director of the Water Center at KTH Royal Institute of Technology which has been leading a project on tracing the coronavirus in the municipal wastewater system of Stockholm. Dr. Nilsson also reflects on the relationship between science and decision-making during times of crisis, when results of scientific studies are not yet fully certain but the need to take action is great.
Sweden’s highly decentralized system of government, efficient under normal circumstances, is an important factor that influenced the idiosyncratic Swedish strategy for managing the coronavirus crisis. Given the relatively constrained central political authority, with expert agencies and local administrations wielding a great deal of power in the Swedish system, could Sweden have possibly managed the crisis any differently, perhaps more effectively, or was the liberal approach the only option? Diverging from the strict coercive measures of most other European countries, Sweden’s far less stringent response amounted to a series of “nudges” to encourage Swedes to take the necessary precautions to contain the spread of COVID-19, according to Prof. Jon Pierre of Gothenburg University who joins the podcast to share the results of his analysis of Sweden’s strategy in comparison with other countries.  
The global coronavirus pandemic instigated a range of national strategies for managing the crisis, no two more divergent than those of Italy and Sweden. The former chose to fight the virus through a strict lockdown, while the latter took a much more permissive path largely based on personal responsibility. As Italy reopens after months of individual and societal isolation, Prof. Giuliano di Baldassare, director of the Center for Natural Hazards and Disaster Sciences at Uppsala University, discusses how despite the radically different responses, the outcomes in Italy and Sweden seem at this point remarkably similar.
Is COVID-19 a super-contagious killer akin to Ebola in deadliness, or something more similar to a severe seasonal flu? In the course of the current pandemic, the populations of Italy and Sweden, informed by the media and public officials, have come to conceive of COVID-19 in strikingly different ways. This has influenced behavior and the ability of government authorities to manage the crisis in the two countries. In the first of a two-part interview, Prof. Giuliano di Baldassare—an Italian living in Sweden—explains how divergent conceptions of the coronavirus alternately facilitates and complicates crisis management depending on where on the curve a country is.    
Despite being the coronavirus country of origin, China seized the opportunity presented by the pandemic to promote its geopolitical agenda across much of the world. To analyze the ways in which China has exploited the COVID-19 crisis, and discuss how receptive or resistant different countries and regions are to China’s advance and attempts to reorder the world in the wake of the pandemic, this episode of the podcast features Dr. Björn Jerdén, head of the Asia program at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs.
Sweden has attracted enormous international attention for its far less stringent coronavirus strategy, largely devised by scientists inside the state bureaucracy. What Swedish governance traditions and political philosophies led to the expert-driven response to COVID-19 that has been variously commended and condemned by commentators both inside and outside of Sweden, and politicized by activists on the left and the right? Prof. Sverker Sörlin, a leading historian and public intellectual, joins the podcast to discuss the historical roots of Sweden’s coronavirus response, and explain how it is being misunderstood and misrepresented by many observers in the midst of the global pandemic.
The proportion of populations that have contracted COVID-19 and developed antibodies against the coronavirus is one of the critical questions at this stage of the crisis. Some recent test results suggest that in many countries, including Sweden, far fewer people than expected have been exposed to the virus, and that hopes of reaching herd immunity are perhaps premature. One of the world’s leading modelers of epidemics, Prof. Tom Britton from Stockholm University, joins the podcast to discuss his latest research on herd immunity in the context of COVID-19 and other data-related dimensions of the pandemic.  
The growth of cities and the expansion of industrial agriculture have greatly increased the density of human and animal populations, heightening the risk of pathogens being exchanged within and between species, and creating new pathways for pandemic outbreaks. On this episode, Prof. Kate Brown from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology provides an ecological and food production perspective on infectious diseases, and shares insights from her research on the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that, like the coronavirus crisis, unleashed an invisible contamination upon human bodies and unprepared societies.
The less than unified response to the coronavirus crisis has greatly exacerbated existing tensions in the European Union, once again raising questions about the legitimacy, solidarity and continued utility of the EU. Crisis management and EU expert Mark Rhinard, professor of international relations at Stockholm University and the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, analyzes the EU response to COVID-19 and considers some of the longer term and wider geopolitical implications of the pandemic for European unity and the role of the EU in an increasingly uncertain world.
Medical experts and government science advisors have become the rock stars of the COVID-19 crisis, often eclipsing political leaders in prominence as countries struggle to devise strategies to contain the coronavirus. But to what extent can and should expert advice inform decision making when factual evidence in a fluid situation is scarce, and scientific understanding of a novel virus is far from comprehensive? Prof. Arjen Boin, a leading crisis management and public administration scholar, joins the podcast to discuss the dynamics of decision making in the particularly complex case of COVID-19, as well as how policymakers are attempting to learn from the more or less effective efforts of other countries in combating the pandemic.  
Without implementing draconian restrictions, Iceland’s proactive response—entailing collaboration between government authorities, medical professionals and a Reykjavik-based biopharmaceutical company, as well as a high level of public engagement—has proven remarkably effective in containing the coronavirus outbreak, arguably the best of any western country. There is also hope that research and data at the population level in Iceland will over time bring important epidemiological insights on the virus. One of the country’s top medical experts, Prof. Magnús Gottfreðsson, explains on this episode how Iceland has so far managed to contain COVID-19 while working to generate data and knowledge for the global effort against the coronavirus.
As New York became the epicenter of the COVID-19 onslaught, Governor Andrew Cuomo emerged as the embodiment of America’s efforts to manage a crisis that has far eclipsed 9/11 in terms of its fatal impact on the city and the country. Prof. Eric Stern, a crisis management expert from the University at Albany, joins the podcast to provide analysis of the pandemic’s impact on New York, the official response by city, state and federal authorities, and Cuomo’s high-profile crisis leadership.
Italy was the initial ground zero of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe, while Sweden has emerged as an international outlier in terms of its far less restrictive handling of the coronavirus crisis. Prof. Giuliano Di Baldassarre, director of the Centre for Natural Hazard and Disaster Science, is an Italian living in Sweden who on this episode draws on his extensive research on natural hazards and data modeling, as well as his lived experience from the two countries, to assess the situation and analyze the respective responses to the crisis.
India implemented on four hours notice the largest lockdown in human history, leading to confusion and dislocation on a colossal scale. On this episode, Ashok Swain, professor of peace and conflict research, explains the Indian response to the pandemic and its potential consequences, as well as how the coronavirus crisis could affect the international peacebuilding agenda and the geopolitics of Asia.
Viktor Galaz, deputy director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, joins the podcast to discuss how infectious disease outbreaks that cascade across national boundaries can, in a complex and interconnected world, emerge from degraded environments at local levels. He also explains how thinking in terms of resilience can improve pandemic preparedness, and how IT and AI can provide early warning against emerging outbreaks and enable better government response, as seen in some cases during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.  
Why were countries such as the United States caught off guard and slow to forcefully respond to COVID-19 at an earlier stage of the outbreak? On this episode, political scientist Charles Parker draws on lessons from previous mega disasters to explain some of the most significant failures in the coronavirus crisis response so far, and how decision makers can learn and adapt to better manage the pandemic.  
Taiwan’s early and aggressive intervention against COVID-19 stands as one of only a few effective responses so far. Dave Trouba, an expert on hygiene and sanitation who currently resides in Taiwan, joins the podcast to explain the key factors that have kept the coronavirus largely at bay there. He also shares insights from his many years working within the UN system and on the ground in developing countries on the serious challenges the pandemic will present to vulnerable populations.
Tracking the data on deaths caused by COVID-19 is a primary and powerful tool for projecting the path of the pandemic. On this episode, data analyst Jonas Sundqvist provides insights from his efforts to collect data and model the spread of the coronavirus, creating a series of curves that project the trajectory of the outbreak in different countries and indicate the effectiveness of differing national approaches to combat COVID-19.
Where on the curve is Sweden, and are current efforts sufficient to contain the coronavirus? One of Sweden’s leading epidemiological experts, Dr. Björn Olsen, professor of infectious medicine at Uppsala University, provides insights into the knowns and unknowns of COVID-19, critiques the Swedish strategy so far, and explains how Sweden can take back control over the outbreak (Note on names of Swedish government authorities mentioned: “Folkhälsomyndigheten” = Public Health Agency of Sweden; “Socialstyrelsen” = National Board of Health and Welfare; “MSB” = Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.)
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Comments (2)

Hardik Solanki

Pure Farm grade Fertiliser from a Fakesperts who are purely agenda driven. Please use 10ppm bleach solution to rinse your ears in order to eliminate feacel matter smell post listening!

Apr 13th
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Hardik Solanki

Listen to Fakesperts winging and pulling things from a place where sun can never shine! I would recommend listening to Friday, Baby and Cake on a loop rather than these guys moan!

Apr 13th
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