On 24 June 2020, the European Commission’s independent Group of Chief Scientific Advisors (GCSA), the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) and Peter Piot, special advisor to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, published a joint statement on scientific advice to European policy makers concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement provides guidance for the provision of scientific advice in pandemic situations that are characterised by complexity and uncertainty. To ensure efficient and effective policies, advice should be multi-disciplinary, and provided through early and frequent exchange with policy-makers. Transparency and openness are crucial. Clarity on what is known, what is not known, and what cannot be known is very important as illustrated by debate around the use of facemasks, the ability of children to spread the disease, or the maximum level of protection offered by a possible vaccine. Also critical is that there is a clear distinction between advice, decision making and implementation roles.