Now, oh! Studied virology
As of June 3, 2020 | Reading time: 3 minutes
Every time has its Faustian figure: Christian Drosten is the most famous German scholar of the Corona era. We have to imagine the virologist in his study at night like Goethe’s greatest hero.
“Well, oh! Philosophy, / Jurisprudence and Medicine / And unfortunately also theology / Thoroughly studying with great effort, “sighs Faust in the first part of his tragedy, in the night scene. “In a vaulted, narrow Gothic room,” Johann Wolfgang Goethe sees him, his doctor Heinrich Faust.
Today you can see Christian Drosten in his mind in his study at the Charité, in an old Berlin brick building. The virologist talks to the listeners of his podcast as Faust talks to a dark force, his sleepy laboratory assistant and invisible singing women and angels. Well, oh! Chemical technology, biology and medicine and also virology studied with great effort.
Unfortunately not statistics. Therefore, nobody knows exactly whether children infected with coronaviruses, as Drosten’s current preliminary study suggests, could be as contagious as adults and whether they should go back to school or not. Statistically, the study shows some weaknesses, which Drosten also admits.
Every time has its Faustian figure. Science doesn’t just want to know what holds the world together. Humans also want to understand what is threatening them, how, in what way. In his doctoral thesis at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Drosten examined how blood donors can be reliably tested for viruses. Twenty years later, he is the scholar of the Corona era. As much as he enjoys the bondage of laypeople who follow his expertise, he suffers from the doubts of his enemies and from the anger of those who disdain science. For some he is Faust, for others the mephisto of government policy. Or the poodle.
“I am smarter than all the laffes, / doctors, masters, scribes and priests; / I am not plagued by scruples or doubts, / I am neither afraid of hell nor of the devil – / All joy is snatched from me for this, / Do not imagine what to know right, ”says Faust as Goethe’s medium. The Privy Council swore by magic tinctures against his ailments, he studied alchemical tracts, but would have preferred to be a real natural scientist and taken seriously by biologists, chemists, mineralogists, physicists and doctors.
But neither his original plant nor his color theory withstood rigorous scientific testing. Only his intermaxillary bone can still be found in the textbooks on human anatomy. Science has badly offended Goethe: “Here I am, poor fool, / And I’m as smart as before!”
So scientists are always there. It is their destiny that their knowledge is valid in order to be challenged and refuted, even in virology – be it by statisticians. Goethe and his Faust already knew that world knowledge is fleeting. Unlike a masterpiece of poetry and drama, a two hundred year old classic. “What a spectacle! But oh! a spectacle only! / Where can I take you, infinite nature? “Faust will still call when his revenants bend over viruses, of which nobody knows anything yet.
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