Health, Economic and Political Responses to the Covid-19 Pandemic

A Gulbenkian Future Forum Online Conference

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The Covid-19 Pandemic raises fundamental health, economics and political challenges for our immediate and long term future. The purpose of this conference is to address these challenges.

The first panel will address the once in a lifetime health emergency with which Covid-19 is facing the world. Its purpose will be to understand better this health emergency and how best to address it. But this health emergency and what is required to address it also raises the prospect of a grave economic crisis.

The second panel will discuss the possible nature and extent of this crisis as well as what is necessary to address it both at the national and EU level.

The third panel will discuss the political and democratic consequences of the crisis. Some have argued that the use of extraordinary powers and the appeal to a stronger authority to address it might constitute a challenge to liberal democracy. Others argue, instead, that the enhanced role of experts and science and the focus on transparency might lead to a reinforcement of liberal democracy. This impact on democracy, as well as the geopolitical consequences of the crisis in terms of world balance of power, will be the focus this last panel.

The conference brings together a remarkable group of academic and policy experts from health, economics and politics. 

During the first panel the audience posed many questions that our guest speakers didn’t have time to cover. We selected some of these questions and gathered the answers from the experts, which you can read in this article.

Find out more



14:00   Opening and introduction

Isabel Mota, President of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Miguel Poiares Maduro, President of the Gulbenkian Future Forum Scientific Committee


14:15 – 15:30   Panel 1 – A Health Crisis

Mónica Bettencourt-Dias, Director of the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (Moderator)
Akiko Iwasaki, Principal Investigator at Yale School of Medicine
Filipe Froes, Head of Intensive Care Unit of Hospital Pulido Valente
Gabriela Gomes, Reader in Biomathematics at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Miguel Soares, Principal Investigator at Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência
Stewart Cole, Director of the Pasteur Institute


15:35 – 16:50   Panel 2 – An Economic Crisis

António Vicente, Member of the Scientific Committee of the Gulbenkian Future Forum (Moderator)
Alexander Stubb, Former Prime Minister of Finland
David Levine, Joint-Chair of the Department of Economics at European University Institute
Fernando Alexandre, Associate Professor of the Department of Economics at Universidade do Minho
Ricardo Reis, A. W. Phillips Professor of Economics at London School of Economics
Susana Peralta, Associate Professor, NOVA School of Business and Economics


16:55 – 18:10   Panel 3 – A Political Crisis

Raquel Vaz Pinto, Member of the Scientific Committee of the Gulbenkian Future Forum (Moderator)
Daniel Innerarity, Director of the Globernance Centre – Instituto de Gobernanza Democrática
Kim Lane Scheppele, Laurance Professor of the University Centre for Human Values at Princeton University
Marina Costa Lobo, Political Scientist of the Institute of Social Sciences at University of Lisbon
Paul Kahn, W. Winner Director of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School


18:10   Closing Remarks

José Manuel Durão Barroso, Chairman of Goldman Sachs International, Former Prime Minister of Portugal and Former President of the European Comission 


Isabel Mota has been Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation since May 2017. She is also Chairman of the Board of Directors of Maison du Portugal – André de Gouveia, the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris and a non-executive Member of the Board of Directors of Banco Santander-Totta. With a degree in Finance from the University of Lisbon (1973), she was Assistant Professor at the Higher Institute of Economics, Deputy Director of the Foreign Economic Cooperation Office of the Ministry of Finance and Counsellor at the Permanent Representation of Portugal in Brussels. As Secretary of State for Planning and Regional Development (1987-1995), she headed the negotiations with the European Union on the Structural and Cohesion Funds for Portugal.

Miguel Poiares Maduro is the Director of the School of Transnational Governance - European University Institute. Former Minister for Regional Development of the Portuguese Government (2013-2015), he holds a Law degree from the University of Lisbon and a Doctorate from the European University Institute in Florence, where he was awarded best doctoral thesis and best researcher from the Law Department. He was Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Communities, Member of the European Union High Level Group on Freedom of the Media and Pluralism, Professor at the Nova University of Lisbon, with which he continues to collaborate, Visiting Lecturer at the Yale Law School, the Centre for Constitutional Studies in Madrid, the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics. He is also President of the Scientific Committee of the Gulbenkian Future Forum.

Mónica Bettencourt-Dias is a biochemist and cellular biologist, head of the Cell Cycle Regulation Research Group at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência. Her research involves cell cycle regulation, for which she has been recognized with the Pfizer Award for Basic Research, the Keith Porter Prize from the American Society for Cell Biology and the Eppendorf Young European Investigator Award. She was also selected, in 2009, as a European Molecular Biology Organization Young Investigator Fellow and inducted as a member of the EMBO in 2015. Scientific Director of the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência since February 2018, she was named, in January 2020, co-President of EU-life, an alliance of leading research centers in life sciences.

Akiko Iwasaki received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto (1998) and had her postdoctoral training from the National Institutes of Health, USA (1998-2000). She joined Yale University in 2000 and is currently Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology, Professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, Professor of dermatology, and an Investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Iwasaki’s research focuses on the mechanisms of immune defense against viruses at the mucosal surfaces. Her laboratory is interested in how innate recognition of viral infections lead to the generation of adaptive immunity and how adaptive immunity mediates protection against subsequent viral challenge.

Filipe Froes is the Head of Intensive Care Unit of Hospital Pulido Valente (Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Norte) and Advisor to the Portuguese Directorate-General for Health/Department of Health. His professional activity is centered on respiratory diseases and intensive care medicine with a focus on infections and respiratory failure. He is a Member of Portuguese Technical Committee on Immunization, Directorate-General for Health.

Gabriela Gomes is Reader in Biomathematics. She graduated in Applied Mathematics from the University of Porto (1987) and completed her MSc and PhD in Mathematics from the University of Warwick (1990 and 1993). In 2002, established her independent group at the Gulbenkian Science Institute, initially supported by a Marie Curie Excellence Grant, with projects ranging from fundamental mathematical concepts to management of population and ecosystem health, public engagement in science and development of research infrastructures. She has a joint appointment between the Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, University of Porto, and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. She held visiting positions at several universities - Minnesota, Ohio and São Paulo.

Miguel Soares is a Principal Investigator at Instituto Gulbenkian Ciência and an invited professor at Lisbon Medical School, University of Lisboa. He obtained his BS in biology (1990), MS in cellular biology (1994) and Ph.D. in Science (1995) from the University of Louvain (Belgium). He became a research fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Fritz H. Bach at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston (1995-1998), then instructor in surgery (1998-2004) and lecturer (2003-2004). In 2004, he moved to the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência where he leads the Inflammation Laboratory, with the aim of understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating inflammation and how these can be used therapeutically to overcome the pathological outcome of immune mediated inflammatory diseases. In 2016, his research group was selected by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help finding a vaccine against malaria.

Stewart Cole is the Director of the Pasteur Institute. He is an internationally renowned scientist and Professor of Microbial Pathogenesis. Since 2007 he has also served as Professor and Director of the Global Health Institute at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, a world-leading education and research center. In 2009, he was awarded the World Health Organization’s prestigious Stop-TB Partnership Kochon Prize for his leadership and groundbreaking accomplishments in genetic research on M. tuberculosis and his contribution to novel therapeutic strategies for tackling TB. During his career, he has been involved in the work of several foundations and scientific committees, and was notably Chair of the Board of the Innovative Medicine for Tuberculosis Foundation and President of the Commission Médicale for the Fondation Raoul Follereau.

António Vicente works for the European Commission. From 2014 to 2019, Head of Cabinet of the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, overseeing Horizon 2020. Chief of staff of the Secretary of State to the Prime Minister of Portugal coordinating the implementation of the EU/IMF Portuguese Adjustment Programme. Started his career at the Luso-American Foundation and was, from 2006 to 2011, a regular contributor to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

David K. Levine is Department of Economics and Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Study Joint Chair at the European University Institute, a Fellow of the Econometric Society, an Economic Theory Fellow, a Research Associate of the NBER and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. His current research interests include the study of intellectual property and endogenous growth in dynamic general equilibrium models, models of self-control, of the endogenous formation of preferences, institutions and social norms, learning in games, evolutionary game theory, virtual economies and the application of game theory to experimental economics. David K. Levine received his undergraduate degree in Mathematics from UCLA (1977), the Daus Prize, a Master's degree in Economics; his graduate training was completed with a Ph.D. in Economics at MIT in 1981.

Ricardo Reis is the A.W. Phillips Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics. He is an Academic Consultant at the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve System, he directs the ESRC Centre for Macroeconomics in the UK, is a recipient of an ERC grant from the EU and serves on the council or as an Advisor of multiple organizations. His main areas of research are inflation expectations, unconventional monetary policies and the central bank’s balance sheet, disagreement and inattention, business cycle models with inequality, automatic stabilizers, sovereign-bond backed securities and the role of capital misallocation in the European slump and crisis. Ricardo Reis received his PhD from Harvard University after studying at Columbia University and Princeton University.

Susana Peralta holds a PhD in Economics from the Université Catholique de Louvain. Her research focus on the economics of multi-layered governments, including tax competition and political economy issues. She joined the Nova School of Business and Economics in 2004. She is a Research Associate of CEPR and CORE-UCL.

Her work is published in several academic journals. She teaches or has taught several courses at Nova SBE, including Public Economics, Game Theory, Microeconomics, and Poverty: concepts and challenges. She is currently the academic director of the MSc in Economics, the Research Master and the PhD in Economics.

Alexander Stubb has served as Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Foreign Minister, Trade and Europe Minister of Finland (2008-2016). He was a Member of the European Parliament (2004-2008) and National Parliament (2011-2017), the Chairman of the National Coalition Party (Kokoomus) (2014-2016) and Vice President of the European Investment Bank (2017-2020). He holds a Ph.D. in international relations from the London School of Economics, a Master’s degree in EU administration from the College of Europe in Bruges and a B.A. in political science from Furman University in South Carolina. He worked as Adviser at the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki and in Brussels and in President Romano Prodi’s team at the European Commission. He was a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges.

Fernando Alexandre holds a PhD in Economics from the University of London - Birkbech College and a Master in Economics from the University of Coimbra. Formerly, he was Pro-Rector for the Valorization of Knowledge, Head of the School of Management and Economics, President of the Pedagogical Council and Director of the Department of Economics (University of Minho). Between 2013 and 2015, he was Deputy Secretary of State to the Minister for Internal Administration. His current research interests include Macroeconomics, Monetary and Financial Economics, Portuguese Economy, Social Security.

Raquel Vaz-Pinto is a Researcher of the Portuguese Institute of International Relations at Nova University of Lisbon, where she teaches Asian Studies. She was President of the Portuguese Political Science Association (2012-2016). Her research interests are Chinese foreign policy and strategy; US Grand Strategy and the Asia-Pacific; Religion in International Relations; the Portuguese and the World; and Football and International Relations. She is a Member of the Board of IDL – Instituto Amaro da Costa and Clube de Lisboa, and a Member of the Scientific Committee of the Gulbenkian Future Forum.

Daniel Innerarity is a Professor of political and social philosophy, Ikerbasque Researcher at the University of the Basque Country and Director of the Instituto de Gobernanza Democrática. Former Fellow of the Fundación Alexander von Humboldt at the University of Munich, Visiting Professor at the University of Paris 1 – Sorbonne, Visiting Professor at the Robert Schuman in the European University Institute of Florence; Visiting Fellow in the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is currently Directeur d'Études Associé de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (Paris). He has been Professor in the Department of Philosophy of the University of Zaragoza (Spain). Innerarity is also internationally recognized as an expert in theory of democracy and government of complex societies.

Paul W. Kahn is Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities and Director of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School. He teaches in the areas of constitutional law and theory, international law, cultural theory and philosophy. Before coming to Yale, in 1985, he clerked for Justice White in the United States Supreme Court and practiced law in Washington, D.C., during which time he was on the legal team representing Nicaragua before the International Court of Justice. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in Philosophy and J.D. from Yale.

Kim Lane Scheppele is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the University Centre for Human Values at Princeton University. Scheppele's work focuses on the intersection of constitutional and international law, particularly in constitutional systems under stress. She held tenure in the Political Science Department at the University of Michigan, taught full-time in the Law School at the University of Pennsylvania, was the founding Director of the gender program at Central European University Budapest, directed the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton and has held visiting faculty positions in the Law Schools at Michigan, Yale, Harvard, Erasmus/Rotterdam and Humboldt/Berlin. She is a Member of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Constitutional Law, elected as a “global jurist.” From 2017-2019, she was the elected President of the Law and Society Association.

Marina Costa Lobo is a Political Scientist of the Institute of Social Sciences at University of Lisbon, specialized in Comparative Political Institutions and Behaviour. She obtained her Doctorate from Oxford University with a thesis about Prime Ministerial power in Portugal. She is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences and co-Editor of the Journal South European Society and Politics. Her interests are focused on electoral behavior and political institutions in Portugal in a comparative perspective. She is one of the Executive Directors of the Portuguese Election Study, through which she was involved in several international projects, as Comparative Studies of Election Systems, European Election Studies, Comparative National Election Project and Integrated and United.

José Manuel Durão Barroso is currently serving as Chairman of Goldman Sachs International. He previously served as President of the European Commission (2004-2014) and Prime Minister of Portugal (2002-2004). He graduated in Law from the University of Lisbon, subsequently obtained a Diploma in European Studies from the European University Institute and received a MA degree with honors in both Political Science and Social Sciences from the University of Geneva. His academic career continued as an Assistant Professor of the Faculty of Law at University of Lisbon and Director of the Department for International Relations at Lusíada University.

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