'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 COVID-19 outbreak, podcast hosts Eric Paglia and Marc van den Bossche discuss different aspects of the pandemic, with a focus on crisis management at the national and international levels, and the long term societal and geopolitical implications of this extraordinary event.
Panoptic perspective on the pandemic at a local level: Tracking the coronavirus in municipal wastewater systems
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.
Nudging a nation through a pandemic: Assessing Sweden’s divergent coronavirus strategy
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.
Coping with COVID-19, Italian and Swedish style: Opposite strategies, similar outcomes
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.
To fear or not to fear: Conceptions of COVID-19 in Italy and Sweden
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.
Pandemic geopolitics: China and the coronavirus crisis
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.
Expertise and Power: Historical roots of Sweden’s coronavirus response
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.