Fernando Simón was not entirely innocent of his catastrophic reputation. However, the public is now looking more mildly at the disease manager.
The Spaniard’s favorite
He has been the face of the crisis on Spanish television for many weeks. As long as he was the bearer of bad and getting worse news, he was hated by many because it always hits the messenger, even if he can’t help it. But Fernando Simón was not entirely innocent of his initially catastrophic reputation as a crisis manager. As director of the coordination center for medical emergencies at the Ministry of Health in Madrid, Simón was initially one of the Corona weighers. Legendary is his total misjudgment of the threat in February when he said that the level of contagion in Spain was low and, according to the current status, one shouldn’t be too upset.
This statement fell on his feet, as Spain is now the country with the most corona cases in Europe. However, Fernando Simón found nothing to later adapt his attitude to reality in view of the escalation, completely in accordance with the motto that science is a process of constantly growing knowledge and contains the possibility of error. One can also say: He is not afraid to admit mistakes; Simón recently admitted that the virus may have been circulating in Europe since autumn.
Maybe that was also due to the Boris Johnson moment Simón had to experience. At the end of March he tested positive for Covid-19 and survived the disease with relatively mild symptoms. Now he’s back as a kind of Spanish Dr. He reports to Drosten almost every day, and since the slender 57-year-old has had to announce more positive news, the public’s dealings with the disease manager have become milder, indeed more loving.
In the first few weeks his resignation was wildly demanded, but the left-left government under Pedro Sánchez held on to the renowned epidemiologist, who had made great contributions to the fight against Zika and Ebola. Simón previously worked at the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control and spent nine years as a doctor in Africa, including in Burundi and Mozambique, then in Ecuador and Guatemala. At the beginning of the nineties he returned to Spain with his wife María, with whom he has three children, for a very Spanish reason: “so that the children can see their grandparents more often”. And now it was Simón of all people who had to forbid his compatriots from this close family contact, which characterizes Spanish society and, unfortunately, may have been one of the reasons for the rapid spread of the disease. He obviously suffered from this.
Simón is considered buena gente, as a nice guy, and that’s how he comes across on TV. Always casual, with cooler temperatures in the sweater, now that it is getting warmer, in the short-sleeved linen shirt, which inspired Twitterers to comment on the fact that when Fernando Simón was wearing short sleeves, the wardrobe had to be rearranged. An ironic allusion to the epidemic’s absolute authority over everyday life in Corona times.
A hairdresser chain advertised with pictures of his untamed gray mane and showed how much telegener Simón could look like if you only let the hairdressers work. There’s a pop song in which Twitter star Christian Flores sings that he’d love to “snuggle up between your bushy eyebrows and kiss you, but of course I won’t really do that because I take your advice seriously.” That is what most Spaniards do who have suffered the draconian curfew that Simón stands for in a disciplined manner. Now that things are slowly getting better, the country still has “every reason to be sad”, Simón said in his quiet thoughtfulness, but the numbers may “make us happy again”.