Ab Osterhaus

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Person.png Ab Osterhaus  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Albert Osterhaus (2016).jpg
Born2 June 1948
Alma materUniversity of Utrecht
Interests • vaccines
• coronavirus
• swine flu
Former head of the Laboratory of Immunology of the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, was a vital, panic-spreading proponent of a "national hard-enforced lockdown" from the start of Covid-19 in the Netherlands.

Albertus Dominicus Marcellinus Erasmus "Ab" Osterhaus is a leading Dutch virologist and influenza expert. An Emeritus Professor of Virology at Erasmus University Rotterdam since 1993, Osterhaus is known throughout the world for his work on SARS and H5N1, the pathogen that causes avian influenza. He also was prominent in predicting the most dire consequences from the 2009 swine flu (which turned out to be very mild) and the 2020 COVID-19 wave.

Corona crisis

In 2020, Osterhaus appeared frequently in the media as an expert in infectious disease control in response to the corona crisis. He criticized the measures taken by the Rutte cabinet to prevent the virus from spreading as far too insufficient.[1]

2009 Swine flu

Osterhaus was criticized for creating a 'fear campaign' by exaggerating the consequences of the 2009 swine flu pandemic and pushing for extensive measures, even though the pandemic influenza (H1N1) is now treated as if it were a common flu.

During the first two weeks of the declared pandemic, Osterhaus (an already well-known expert to the Dutch audience), dominated the coverage with a share of 29% of all statements in the newspapers and even 45% of all statements on the three TV news programs, mainly with alarming predictions. During the first period, hardly any media attention was directed at other experts expressing a critical view on the pandemic.[2]

Physician and microbiologist Miquel Ekkelenkamp called Osterhaus a 'scaremonger' in an opinion piece: "'Expert' Osterhaus should be banned indefinitely from television. Everything he claimed turned out to be untrue: we're not all going to die like we did in 1918, not everyone needs a vaccination, we should not give Tamiflu to everyone and the virus has not mutated into something much more dangerous."[3] Osterhaus covered himself by saying he had named a wide spectrum of possibilities and the minister he advised, Ab Klink decided to go for the worst-case scenario" .

In September 2009, a controversy arose when it became known Osterhaus has a 9.8% share in ViroClinics B.V, a pharmaceutical company that benefited from the 34 million vaccines Health minister Ab Klink bought based on Osterhaus's advice as a government consultant.


Osterhaus worked for 16 years at the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in Utrecht, where he held various positions. His last position was head of the Laboratory of Immunobiology. During that period he was also appointed part-time professor of environmental virology at the Institute of Virology at Utrecht University. In 1993 he was appointed professor of virology at the Medical Faculty of Erasmus University Rotterdam. In that capacity, he was also head of the Virology Department of Erasmus MC until 2013. He then became the founder of a new institute at the Tierärztliche Hochschule (TiHo) in Hanover, Germany.

He headed two reference centers for the World Health Organization: the National Influenza Center and the World Measles Reference Center. He is also a member of a number of national and international standing groups and committees that deal with the prevention of infectious diseases in humans and animals. Osterhaus also played an important role in identifying the SARS virus, which causes the lung disease SARS.