Published: 06-09-2023 13:42 | Updated: 06-02-2024 13:27

Professor Jan Albert appointed pandemic Inquiry Chair

Photo of Jan Albert.
Jan Albert. Photo: Margareta Bloom Sandebäck

The government has appointed Jan Albert, professor of infectious disease control at Karolinska Institutet and senior consultant at Karolinska University Hospital, to lead a government inquiry looking into strengthening the country’s preparedness for future pandemics. The directive concerns a national strategy for how pandemics are to be managed and a possible revision of the Communicable Diseases Act. The investigation should be delivered in February 2025.

What is at the heart of the assignment?

“We need legislation better adapted to manage large-scale spread of infections,” says Jan Albert, professor at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology, Karolinska Institutet. “The current law focuses mainly on handling single infected individuals. This was revealed during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Sweden had to create temporary laws, such as the one on social distancing. The directive also includes a review of the placement of the regional infection control units.”

What lessons have your learnt from the pandemic?

“There are many experiences of COVID-19 and of how different countries have tackled the pandemic, but I think it’s important not to get restricted by the behaviour of this particular pandemic. There were comparably few serious cases and many milder cases. If, say, we had a mortality of ten per cent, different measures would have been called for.”

Who will you involve in your investigation?

“I will have a small staff, primarily comprising experts on governmental investigation, law and infectious disease control as well as, to a certain extent, epidemiology.”