23 – 29 January

A snapshot of media coverage on the coronavirus outbreak

LSHTM has garnered over 1,500 pieces of online media coverage and 300 pieces of broadcast coverage since Monday 20th January.

Peter Piot speaks to…

(29/01) Financial Times (£) about the World Health Organization’s announcement that it is too early to declare the outbreak an international public health emergency. Peter said: “The fact that there are cases in so many countries is of international concern. I do not know what more they need.”

(28/01) CNBC about global preparedness to tackle the outbreak. Peter said: “We’ve come a long way compared with SARS in 2003. The biggest difference is that today there’s far more transparency and exchange of information.”

(28/01) CGTN about how lessons learned from the Sars outbreak can help in the development of a coronavirus vaccine. Peter said: “The good news is we don’t have to start from scratch, because we are lucky that there has been a lot of work done with other coronaviruses for vaccines.”

(27/01) BBC News about the importance of data sharing. Peter said: “[It’s] essential because you cannot deal with a potential pandemic in one country alone.”

(24/01) The New York Times about the need for international collaboration. Peter said: “The World Health Organization will need to continue to monitor developments very closely. There are still many missing pieces in the jigsaw puzzle to fully understanding this new virus. There cannot be any complacency as to the need for global action.” Peter’s comments were picked up by more than 800 outlets around the world, including  The Telegraph (£), The Japan Times and The Indian Express.

(24/01) Financial Times (£) about protective measures that need to be taken to minimise the spread of the virus. Peter said: “You isolate the patients and make sure that the people caring for them have maximum protection against infection, then you trace everyone who has been in contact with the patient within the incubation period and look for any symptoms in them.”

Roz Eggo talks to…

(29/01) Channel 4 News (from 22:52) about the likelihood of a surge in overseas cases. Roz said: “Some of the cases we’re seeing now that are being exported are from further back in transmission. Right now, we have to see whether these interventions that have been put in place in Wuhan and other places have had an impact on the transmission.”

(28/01) South China Morning Post about the effectiveness of a border shutdown as a quarantine measure, which is presented in a popular epidemic-simulating smartphone game. Roz said: “Even if you close the border, there are always different routes people make around it.”

(26/01) BBC Radio 5 Live (from 02:06:09) about China’s response to the outbreak. Roz said: “We got the genetic information about the virus as quickly as possible and indeed, the efforts being made to ramp up the response to decrease the transmission and share information is truly exemplary.”

(24/01) BBC News about the differences between epidemics and pandemics. Roz said: “A pandemic is an epidemic that happens all around the world at approximately the same time. In 2009, we had a pandemic of influenza that started in Mexico and then that epidemic reached around the world and caused a pandemic of flu.”

(24/01) BBC Newsnight (from 22:00) about international preparedness against the virus. Roz said: “Within a few weeks the virus was sequenced. There’s been remarkable progress in technological solutions.”

(24/01) The Guardian about how to gauge the extent of an outbreak. Roz said: “What we’re trying to understand is the reproduction number which is the average number of secondary cases that each infected person creates.”

David Heymann is quoted in…

(29/01) The Telegraph about the reliability of temperature screening at airports. David said: “Temperature screening picks up people with fevers – but people can take aspirin if they want to travel and don’t want to get picked up. The best thing to do is educate people – if you’re sick you should tell a doctor.”

(28/01) South China Morning Post about the reproductive rate of the coronavirus. David said: With a reproductive rate estimated as high as 2.6 in some studies, this means that every person infected could infect between two and three others – this is why Wuhan needs to be prepared, though the reproductive rate at present is only an estimate and will likely vary over time.”

(28/01) Yahoo! News about the transmissibility of the virus. David said: “It is known this virus can pass from one to another through close physical contact, and more and more evidence suggests it can be passed by droplets that spread face-to-face by a cough or sneeze directly on the face from one to another, as was SARS.”

(24/01) The Lancet about the importance of open science in the context of outbreaks. David said: “The epidemiology of both SARS & MERS viruses is mostly understood, and the same will be true for the current outbreak of #2019-nCoV if data continue to be freely shared and used to provide realtime guidance.”

(24/01) CNN about how contagious the virus is. David said: “We are now seeing second and third generation spread.”

Adam Kucharski features in…

(29/01) BBC Newsbeat (from 02:14) about the UK’s response to the outbreak. Adam said: “The government’s already doing a lot to track people coming in and if they show up with symptoms, making sure they can be treated really quickly.”

(28/01) Science Focus about the likelihood of an outbreak in the UK. Adam said: “It’s flu season in the UK and a lot of flu symptoms overlap with [2019-nCoV]. So I think a lot of cases will show those symptoms but won’t necessarily be this new virus.”

(26/01) LBC about precautionary measures being taken by the UK. Adam said: “At the moment we’re seeing a number of suspected cases being investigated which shows those measures are identifying potential people at risk and can enable them to be reported as soon as possible.”

(25/01) Sky News about the most at-risk groups. Adam said: “From the early data it seemed that a lot of the severe cases were in the elderly people with pre-existing health conditions but we have seen data now that suggests there are a wider range of potential symptoms and a wider range of age groups being affected.”

Jimmy Whitworth speaks to…

(29/01) BBC News (from 06:44) about the suspension of British Airways flights to and from China. Jimmy said: “This is a balanced response given the circumstances – protecting the British public and making sure we don’t bring back people and cause an outbreak of this coronavirus in the UK.”

(28/01) Voice of America about the need for immediate action to minimise the spread of the virus. Jimmy said: “It’s important not to get too much of a sense of panic… we’re at a early stage of this epidemic and now is the time to act so we can stop it from spreading further.”

Brendan Wren talks to…

(24/01)  The Guardian about lessons learned from the SARS outbreak in 2003 and how they can help the development of a coronavirus vaccine. Brendan said: “Certainly that information will give us a head start.”

(24/01) Sky News about the likelihood of the virus fading before a vaccine is developed. Brendan said: “It’s difficult to tell at the moment. This is what happened in the SARS outbreak in 2004, but it’s important to do this kind of research so that we can learn our lessons and so that we’re more prepared next time an epidemic occurs.”

Other LSHTM experts…

(29/01) John Edmunds discusses transmission rates in South China Morning Post. John said: “No-one can predict with any accuracy how long it might take for this epidemic to peak. However, I would hazard a guess that the probability that the epidemic will peak in seven-to-10 days is extremely low. April or May would seem much more probable.”

(27/01) Heidi Larsson speaks to Al Jazeera about China’s response to the outbreak. Heidi said: “It’s much more transparent than in the early day of SARS.”

Further LSHTM coverage

LSHTM’s inaugural Planetary Health Conference, co-hosted with the MRC Unit in the Gambia, features in the Daily Mail. The conference explored the latest evidence on the impacts of environmental change in West Africa.

Grace Ryan explores the relationship between mental health and poverty in BBC World Service’s ‘People Fixing the World’ podcast (from 19:28). Grace said: “Addressing the mental health bit – making sure people have access to care and treatment – is really only part of the picture. You could just be returning people to situations that could make them sick again.” 

Rosemary Green discusses ethical eating as part of the planetary health diet in Women’s Health ‘Going for Goal’ podcast. Rosemary said: “It’s good to be aware of all the different impacts food can have.”

Val Curtis is quoted in the Daily Mail about the effectiveness of hand washing with soap. Val said: “Bar soaps are a very hostile environment for bacteria. The bacterial cells get exploded by the strong chemical concentrations. Bar soap is not the place you’re going to pick up people’s bugs.”

An LSHTM study that looked at the ways in which alcohol-funded bodies present information about alcohol consumption during pregnancy features in The Independent

Research by LSHTM that is looking into brain function in football features in The Telegraph.

On social media:

This week’s social media highlight comes from Twitter, where we marked World Leprosy Day by sharing Alice Ball’s story:

On social media:

Comments are closed.