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Joan Elias: "Our future will be saved by sciences and humanities, which are taught at the universities"

The opening lecture, titled "Epidemics, pandemics and lessons", was given by the professor of Public Health and dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Antoni Trilla.

The opening lecture, titled "Epidemics, pandemics and lessons", was given by the professor of Public Health and dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Antoni Trilla.

The secretary-general, Maite Vilalta, presented the report on the academic year 2019/2020.

The secretary-general, Maite Vilalta, presented the report on the academic year 2019/2020.

Presidential board.

Presidential board.

The Board of Trustees awards to teaching quality 2020 were given during the ceremony.

The Board of Trustees awards to teaching quality 2020 were given during the ceremony.

The ceremony took place at the Paranimph of the Historical Building with limited room capacity due to the health restrictions.

The ceremony took place at the Paranimph of the Historical Building with limited room capacity due to the health restrictions.

13/10/2020

Institucional

"Our future will be saved by sciences and humanities, which are taught at the universities", stated the rector of the UB, Joan Elias, during the inauguration of the academic year 2020/2021, which was held today in the Paranimph of the Historical Building, with limited room capacity due to the health restrictions. The opening lecture, titled “Epidemics, pandemics and lessons”, was given by the professor of Public Health and dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Antoni Trilla. The ceremony started with the words of the secretary-general, Maite Vilalta, who presented the report on the academic year 2019/2020. The minister for Business and Knowledge of the Catalan Government, Ramon Tremosa, and the president of the Board of Trustees of the UB, Joan Corominas, took part in the ceremony as well.

 

Vulnerability and uncertainty as a lesson
The rector Joan Elias started his speech by thanking Doctor Trilla for the opening lecture and “mainly, for having shown how the university and university members can help society”.

The rector also thanked the university community for their effort during the pandemic and remembered “those who left and their families too”. Elias commented on the effort made at the University, both from an organizational and economic perspective, to adopt a bimodal teaching model, with face-to-face and online lectures.

“We have to live in the middle of this uncertainty and vulnerability, and we know working under these circumstances is not easy. However, I would like to say that everything that happens can be seen as a lesson to learn”, noted the rector. “All the experts that studied the history of the University from Medieval times until current times, and great philosophers who tried to see which are the aims of the university, say we are in an institution that, in order to reach its goals, has to consider uncertainty and vulnerability”, he continued. Elias concluded: “I think we will not reach our goals if we do not assume that unexpected things can happen, and that we are exposed to complex situations”.

“We were late and now we know. A mistake we can never repeat”
Antoni Trilla dedicated the lesson to his topic of expertise: epidemiology, following the analysis of the pandemic of the Spanish flu and the current one. He mentioned that epidemics are part of our life as human beings. In particular, the pandemic of the Spanish flu in 1918 and 1919 “is the reference of the worst scenario regarding planning and control of epidemics”, noted the expert who remembered that this pandemic was a warning and that we “had been told about it”.

Regarding the COVID-19, Antoni Trilla said they made a mistake: the seriousness of the situation in the north of Italy was not properly assessed. “We were late and now we know. It is a mistake we can never repeat”, he said. “For an epidemiologist, the 80% of the work is about data, good data”, said the dean of Medicine and Health Sciences. “We have lived many months without a guideline, and we do not have a perfect one yet”, he warned. According to the professor, the number of real cases of COVID-19 in the first round should be multiplied by a factor between 9 and 10. “We may reach three million cases”, he noted.

Regarding the future evolution of the pandemic, Trilla believes that biomedical research “will be the key to help us control this pandemic in a more efficient and quick manner” and he also said that having properly validated vaccines in 2021 or 2022 would be a success. He also highlighted the task carried out by health professionals, as well as the massive response from the students of Medicine and Nursing.

Trilla ended his lecture with an analysis of some of the relevant lessons taken from pandemics. To do so, he reproduced some paragraphs from an article published in the journal Science, “The lessons of the pandemics”. This article was published on May 30, 2019 and it mentioned to the Spanish flu.

After the awards to teaching quality by the Board of Trustees 2020, the president of the Board of Trustees of the UB, Joan Corominas, started his speech praising Antoni Trilla, who was awarded the Prize to best practises on scientific dissemination given by the Doctors’ Senate and Board of Trustees of the UB. He said Dr. Trilla “made the value and importance of communication visible, since the beginning of the pandemic, to share the participation of science in a key problem of our society”. The central part of Corominas’ speech was on the role of the universities in the economic and social reconstruction after the pandemic. “We have to rebuild the country, we have to build a solid and united model, a new economy based on knowledge and talent, and universities have to play an important role”, he said. In particular, Corominas referred to the European Fund Recovery plan and the need for “a great part of resources to be earmarked to long-term investments, in a set of projects that allow the construction of a knowledge society more resilient to crises, more prepared for the future and more united”. “Our university gave an immediate response to the crisis, and we have to be on the front line when working on proposals for this plan on reconstruction, transformation and resilience, creating specific projects to build a more solid society based on knowledge”, he concluded.

Ramon Tremosa highlighted the great efforts to adapt and the investment of the universities to fight this pandemic. In these lines, the minister said that the Catalan Government will earmark twenty million euros to these expenses and admitted that the economic situation and political context are complicated. “The Catalan Government does not have a president, and this has an impact on the self-government", he noted. He said that, for instance, the law of science, which was expected to be approved, will not be approved.

However, he ensured that the Government will work to make the university activity easier and highlighted as a positive aspect of the current situation the context of the European Union. The European resources and tools are “a true blessing”, he said, and he qualified the action of the European institutions as “an umbrella of macroeconomic stability for Southern Europe”.

During the ceremony, the video Compromís UB. Curs 2020-2021 was presented:

  

 

 

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