Fighting the virus with the power of knowledge

At the moment, the whole world is united by one cause – finding solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, such solutions cannot be found without science.

Researchers are developing vaccines against the virus and improved means of responding to pandemics in the future. The University of Helsinki is supporting the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa by providing its facilities and equipment for COVID-19 testing.

Citizens value the work carried out by scientists, as evidenced by the donations made to the University of Helsinki for research related to the coronavirus – more than €170,000 in a little over a week. The group of donors, so far a total of 433, is extremely diverse, with most of them now making their first donation to the University. A heartfelt thanks to the donors for their notable and significant support in the fight against the coronavirus!

Universities are tackling the crisis by working to promote human health and by offering research-based knowledge to decision-makers and citizens. Knowledge that is societally useful is also multidisciplinary, as demonstrated by a number of examples.

We need mathematicians to produce mathematical models that illustrate the spread of infectious diseases. We need experts who help us understand the anatomy of economic crises. We need social psychologists who are able to tell us how people behave in crises.

The coronavirus outbreak is a serious societal challenge that can, however, also fill us with courage in the long run. Because of the crisis, we have quickly adapted to new ways of working, consuming and interacting with one another. In just a moment, society has been transformed into something unfamiliar because we made the decision to transform it for the sake of citizens’ health.

In future, we will be better prepared to rebuild our everyday life, enabling us to solve other global crises, such as climate change. To realise this, we need research anchored in what we learn from the coronavirus crisis: how different cultures fought against the virus, and how human–nature interaction affects the spread of zoonotic diseases.

The society of the future is built with the power of knowledge.