Michael Bang Petersen appointed to assist the Epidemics Committee

The Ministry of Health wishes to involve a broader range of social science competencies in the future work of the Epidemics Committee. Universities Denmark has been tasked to appoint three experts within the social sciences to assist the committee. Professor Michael Bang Petersen from Aarhus University has been chosen as one of these three experts.

Professor Michael Bang Petersen Photo: AU Photo

The reason for the appointment of three new experts is that the Danish Minister for Health has issued new rules of procedure for the Epidemics Committee as of 1 October 2022. Among other things, the new rules of procedure are to prompt the committee to involve a broader range of competencies within health and social science in its work.

“Experience from the COVID-19 pandemic – during which Michael was very active – shows that insight into how people respond to requirements and offers in their surroundings is crucial to the development of epidemics. It is possible that this is just as significant as medical knowledge,” says professor Peter Munk Christiansen, head of the Department of Political Science.

Michael Bang Petersen was a member of the Danish government’s external academic advisory group during the COVID-19 pandemic and has provided expert assistance to the Epidemics Committee since 2021. He thus has extensive knowledge of the committee’s procedures and responsibilities. He has also advised the Danish Health Authority as well as a number of international organisations, including WHO Europe and the European Commission, on topics within behaviour and communication during the pandemic.

In addition to Michael Bang Petersen, two more experts have been appointed to assist the committee: associate professor, PhD Signe Smith Jervelund (University of Copenhagen) and professor Jes Søgaard (University of Southern Denmark).

Advising the committee

The Epidemics Committee has the right to invite academic experts within either health or social science to attend meetings, and this is how Michael Bang Petersen will occasionally join the committee.

 The Epidemics Committee may also invite other people, including representatives from government agencies and institutions, other experts and special interest organisations.

The Epidemics Committee is an independent government authority that advises the Danish Minister for Health as well as other ministers on handling diseases that are universally dangerous or critical to society. The committee was established by the Danish Minister for Health, Magnus Heunicke.

The Epidemics Committee has 11 members, including the chair. The chair and one other member are appointed by the Minister for Health, while the remaining nine members are appointed by the Minister for Health on recommendation from one of the following respectively: the Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Justice, the Danish Patient Safety Authority, the Danish Health Authority, Statens Serum Institut (SSI), the National Commissioner of Police, the Local Government Denmark (LGDK) and the Danish Regions.