Address of Professor JŪRAS BANYS, President of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences

02 04 2020

Honourable Members of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, Scientists, and Partners,

Due to the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic is posing to the state, the nature of the activities of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences has changed. All the meetings, discussions, book presentations and other events pre-planned at the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences have now moved online. The academy carries out its activities in the virtual space via email and video conferencing. The news continues to be published in the Academy’s website. Although we are restricted by the quarantine, activities of both the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences as an organisation and of its members become critical during the period that is hard on our state and on the whole world. In their attempts to stop the spread of the virus and to reduce the detrimental impact of the pandemic on the public, top-level scientists must be in the frontline indicating the direction in which science, economy, higher education, and culture should proceed.

We must take a broad look in facing the new and dangerous virus and trying to grasp and conquer it, and therefore I want to single out four spheres that have already been noticeably affected by the pandemic or will be affected in the future. First of all, it is medicine that expends huge efforts in the attempt to stop the spread of the virus and its negative impact on human health. The second to take the consequences of the quarantine is economy: the resulting recession will have to be overcome and the economic activity will have to undergo fundamental renewal. The social sphere is yet another affected field: it is believed that our social life will never return to the pre-pandemic state or if it will, the return will be hard and prolonged. And the fourth affected area is education: lectures, lessons, and various activities must be adapted to the existing situation. Teachers and lecturers will have to change their ways of teaching and communication in order to overcome the challenges posed by the virus.

Once again, I would like to emphasize the greatly increased role of the academicians as experts in the fields of sciences during this period. In the age of information when news is published in real time, when the amount of unconfirmed and/or biased information that can sometimes be attributed to pseudoscience or rumours increases, it is essential to discover objective, science-based content. Therefore I invite all members of the Academy to actively express their opinions, knowledge, and experience through various media, on the Internet, and in the website of the Academy of Sciences. I would also like to remind you that the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, which brings together the scientists of the highest qualification, has set up a commission for qualified assessment, commenting, and dissemination of the latest knowledge on COVID-19 infection, which is led by Prof. Dr habil. Vytautas Usonis. In, the commission publishes the latest science-based information on the biology, epidemiology, diagnostics, and immunology of COVID-19, on the clinical aspects and treatment of the disease. The information has been accumulated by the members of the commission and collected from the sources of scientific information worldwide. We encourage all members of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences and all scientists to read, take interest, and share the objective content of, to make their own contribution to the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus, and to spread the useful information in the public.

I believe that together we can handle the new challenges: we can conduct relevant top-level research, effectively develop the process of studies, be active in dissemination of science-based news, in provision of expertise that is necessary for the country’s authorities and society, and in contributing to the country’s culture. After the crisis, we will be stronger than we have ever been. I wish all the members of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, all researchers and Academy partners to comply with the quarantine conditions and to stay healthy. We look forward to the normal work at the Academy after the virus has left.

Prof. Jūras Banys

Photo: Virginija Valuckienė