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Top Belgian virologist under police protection over far-right threats

Marc Van Ranst, Belgium’s top virologist | Nicolas Maeterlink/AFP via Getty Images

Marc Van Ranst says his ‘faith in mankind is stronger than ever’ since the pandemic struck.

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7/16/20, 3:38 PM CET

Updated 7/16/20, 3:38 PM CET

Belgium’s top virologist Marc Van Ranst said he has been under police protection following “tangible” threats from members of the far-right.

The police informed him three weeks ago about “tangible plans to cause harm,” Van Ranst said in an interview with Techmag. Since then, a police car has been driving past his house every hour, he said, adding that he had rejected a proposal to have a police car parked in front of his home.

The virologist said he believes that the threats come from the extreme right. “I’ve been following the extreme right for 30 years,” he said. Van Ranst regularly uses social media to criticize politicians from the right-wing N-VA and far-right Vlaams Belang.

The police confirmed to local media that there were threats made. An investigation is underway into who made the threats.

Despite the threats, the virologist said he is not planning on disappearing from public life. “Fear is a bad counselor, but fortunately I have grown thick skin in recent years. What’s more, since the pandemic outbreak, my faith in mankind is stronger than ever,” Van Ranst said.

“Over the past few months, I have seen so many wonderful initiatives from different corners of the country that bear witness to solidarity. That is the best response to the polarization in our society,” he added.

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