OMT members felt pressured by politicians and were ready to leave
Several members of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) have considered resigning in the past year. The scientists in charge of advising the cabinet in the fight against the coronavirus felt pressured by politicians and that they could not work independently. This was reported by de Volkskrant.
The political influence with which they struggled would mainly take place at informal cabinet meetings at the Catshuis, the Prime Minister’s official residence. OMT scientists and members of the cabinet would meet there to discuss the trajectory of the crisis. Measure discussed there, however, would often be leaked to the press in advance.
According to some team members, the OMT often failed to implement stricter restrictions or were only able to push them through in hindsight. Microbiologist Jan Kluytmans and Alex Friedrich, as well as intensive care director Diederik Gommers, among others, considered leaving their positions due to these kinds of dilemmas.
In the end, they did not because the chairman of the National Health Institute, Jaap van Dissel intervened. For example, he moved the OMT meetings from Mondays after the Catshuis consultations to the Fridays before. This would prevent politicians from giving “instructions.” According to the OMT members, this “removed the tension out of the air.”