Ljubljana – Mario Fafangel, the head of the Centre for Communicable Diseases at the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), was declared the Person of the Year 2020 by the newspaper publisher Delo at an online event on Thursday evening. He was labelled the leading epidemiologist “showing us the way in the restless sea of the epidemic”.
Fafangel is also the one “we listened to in 2020, whom we trusted and whom we believed”, Delo wrote in a press release.
Delo’s editor-in-chief Bojan Budja said Fafangel was speaking about the epidemic with passion yet in a realistic and calming way. “He says without beating around the bush that the situation is not good but also that there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
“He will repeat five, ten times, if necessary, that we must stop pointing fingers at people. That we must join forces. That everyone must help and do what they can to make the curve turn downwards as much as possible. He is explaining all the time what we know about the virus and what we don’t known, but foremost he will explain again and again why vaccination is what will enable revival of public life.”
Fafangel was one of the twelve candidates shortlisted for the title, the others being infectologist Bojana Beović, the head of the government Covid-19 advisory group, Darko Brlek, the director and artistic director of Ljubljana Festival, Andrej Šter, the head of the Foreign Ministry’s consular service, and Andrej Janež, the head of UKC Ljubljana’s endocrinology and diabetes department.
The list also included Jure Knez, the head of the Slovenian Business Club, Dušan Mramor, an economics professor and former finance minister, and Iztok Kramberger and Tomaž Rodič, who were in charge of the launch of Slovenia’s first satellites last year.
Other distinguished individuals shortlisted for the title are Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar, initiator and coordinator of the data tracker site Covid-19 Sledilnik Luka Renko, Michelin-starred chef Ana Roš and Tatjana Lejko Zupanc, the head of UKC Ljubljana’s Clinic of Infectious Diseases.
The 31st Delo Person of the Year ceremony was held at the Cankarjev Dom club in line with NIJZ recommendations and broadcast at www.delo.si/delova-osebnost.
Last year the Person of the Year was Jadran Lenarčič, the director of the Jožef Stefan Institute, the country’s top research institution.
In cooperation with the Fran Ramovš Institute for Slovenian Language, Delo also declared “vaccine” the word of the year.