MAS student Soley Kaldal works as an expert lead for Arctic safety and security cooperation at the Icelandic Coast Guard. She is also an adviser to Iceland’s National Security Council.


I had a conversation with my boss and agreed to step up as a full time (let’s face it, probably overtime) employee for the Icelandic government in the fight against COVID-19. I’m “on loan” from the Coast Guard in order to join a small central coordination Task Force for national risk assessment and response procedure adaptation. I went into the situation room today for hours of planning and I foresee intense weeks ahead.

We expect infection numbers to peak in about 3 weeks and if we manage this right, we might be able to reduce the number of cases so that they fall within the hospitals capacity. To be frank: there are two ways to win the fight against the virus, a vaccine or herd immunity. At the moment we have nothing else. A vaccine will probably take 18 months, so the other (faster?) option is that 60-70% of our population gets infected. That’s a scary prospect and our main objective is to stabilize the rate of infection so that it won’t overwhelm the system, but at the same time keep it high enough to have a timeline that’s shorter than a year-and-a-half. Hopefully there will be some medicine available to reduce suffering of those infected.

 I am one of the country’s leading crisis management experts and I am needed – right now. I have to step up. If anything, my time at Yale has taught me that; When we are called to duty, we accept responsibility and use our knowledge to make a difference. Jackson aims to create global leaders and leadership requires sacrifices.