28 May – 4 June

A snapshot of media coverage on COVID-19

Peter Piot

(28/05) Peter explains on Channel 4 News that focusing on the human experience is imperative during COVID-19. Peter said: “Communication has been too much about figures and concepts … COVID-19 is about people.”

(28/05) In Boston Globe, Peter highlights the need for a coordinated global response in the fight against COVID-19. Peter said: “We must engage now to respond to the humanitarian need, to limit the spread and genetic drift of the coronavirus, and to protect the incredible gains — and lives saved — that the world has achieved through broader global health investments.”

Heidi Larson

(03/06) Heidi discusses the importance of rebuilding public confidence in vaccines, in WIRED. Heidi said: “We need to recognise that there is a general public who have very valid questions and concerns, and we need to engage them because we’re losing.”

(03/06) Heidi explains the reasons behind vaccine hesitancy on Euronews. Heidi said: “Usually it’s related to a history of issues or breakdowns in trust with government, and it doesn’t have to necessarily be about a vaccine if there’s been another health issue that hasn’t been handled well, or that the public thinks they haven’t been fully informed.”

David Heymann

(02/06) David comments on President Trump’s decision to terminate the U.S. relationship with WHO, in Bloomberg. David said: “I’m very disappointed that the U.S. would even be thinking of leaving such a vital multinational organization without anything to replace it. It would cause a hole in the polio eradication that would have to be filled and affect many other programs.”

(30/05) David explains that a “phased-in unlocking” is crucial to avoiding a second wave of COVID-19 infections in Singapore, in The Straits Times. David said: “Each country has to do its own risk assessment of different sectors and see where transmission has occurred in the past and where it might be safe to open up first.”

(30/05) David cautions that there is no guarantee a COVID-19 vaccine can be developed in The Straits Times. David said: “We don’t exactly understand the immune response for this coronavirus at present. Hopefully, we will learn that as vaccine research goes on. But we shouldn’t put all our eggs in one basket.”

(29/05) David praises South East Asian countries’ efforts in curbing COVID-19 transmission, in The Straits Times. David said: “The best examples are what is going on in Singapore, in Hong Kong, in Taiwan and South Korea, and in Vietnam. You have been able to keep the reproductive number low, you have been using these unique ‘circuit breakers’ instead of just locking down everything at once.

Adam Kucharski

(02/06) Adam highlights the importance of timing when it comes to the new test and trace strategy, in the Daily Mail. Adam said: “By the time someone shows symptoms, they have probably been infectious for a day or two already. So that means by the time someone has symptoms, reports as a case, their contacts have potentially already been infected … So I think that what that shows is that for these test and trace, these targeted measures to work, speed is really of the essence.”

(02/06) In BBC News, Adam comments on the current UK rate of daily COVID-19 infections, following estimates of around 8,000. Adam said: “It’s somewhere in the range of 10-fold fewer, but that’s still considerable.”

(01/06) Adam explains what the K number is in The Guardian. Adam said: “Some people might generate a lot of secondary cases because of the event they attend, for example, and other people may not generate many secondary cases at all. K is the statistical value that tells us how much variation there is in that distribution.”

(01/06) Adam discusses the UK’s current reproduction number on BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight (from 25:24). Adam said: “We’ve got an increasingly good sense of what R is throughout the stages of the outbreak. When a lot of countries had it early on we were looking at something probably in the range of 2 to 3, and now a lot of countries have it under control so it’s going to be below one.”

Sally Bloomfield

(02/06) Sally outlines whether gloves are an effective defense against COVID-19 in Huffington Post. Sally said: “Whilst you’re walking around the supermarket, you could easily touch your nose, mouth and eyes with gloved hands. The only reason it might help is if you remember you have gloves on and think: ‘Oh no, I shouldn’t touch my face.’”

(31/05) Sally comments on the UK’s easing of lockdown measures in The Guardian. Sally said: “Our desire to socialise means that the critical nature of our situation is being forgotten. Why introduce all of these measures at the same time – which means that if the situation deteriorates it will be impossible to know which measures need to be reimposed.”

(30/05) Sally discusses the UK government’s guidance around mass gatherings on BBC News. Sally said: “My fear is that ‘gathering’ is going to be taken as we can have a party in the garden now.”

(30/05) Sally talks about the variation in the UK’s lockdown easing guidance on BBC Radio 5 Live (from 1:10:00). Sally said: “The basic principles are the same, it’s just the size of the gatherings. Things have not changed that much in that we are still saying it is safe enough for people to meet outdoors providing they keep that social distance.”

Stephen Evans

(01/06) Stephen discusses the efficacy of remdesivir in CNN, following further results that suggest the antiviral may speed up COVID-19 recovery. Stephen said: “These improvements are not dramatic – they are not a ‘game changer’ in the terrible jargon, but at least there is some genuine evidence of improvement … Remdesivir is one of the only drugs to show some promise, but … we need to have more transparent data before we can form a good judgment.”

(30/06) In The Independent, Stephen comments on the results of Moderna’s early human trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Stephen said: “It is very difficult to be sure of the results from a press release. It must be noted that this is a Phase 1 study which has an object of showing the vaccine is able to induce an antibody response and that the dose range is appropriate.”

John Edmunds

(01/06) In the Daily Mail, John cautions against “relaxing our guard”, amidst the UK easing some of its lockdown measures. John said: “The basic reproduction number for this virus is perhaps three, maybe even more, so we cannot relax our guard by very much at all.”

(30/05) John discusses the UK government’s decision to ease lockdown measures on Sky News. John said: “What the government have to do is they have to take scientific advice alongside other advice … They have to balance that with other things like the economy. The lockdown also has a big impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing.”

Other LSHTM experts

(02/06) Martin Hibberd comments on assertions that COVID-19 is losing potency, in Reuters. Martin said: “With data from more than 35,000 whole virus genomes, there is currently no evidence that there is any significant difference relating to severity.”

(31/05) Martin McKee warns that events and large gatherings could fuel COVID-19 transmission on LBC. Martin said: “The risk of transmission when people are outdoors – providing they do keep their distance – is probably very low. The real concern that is emerging is what we’re calling ‘super spreading’ events, where people are indoors and particularly when they’re speaking loudly or singing, which seems to be associated with an increasing number of clusters.”

(31/05) Beate Kampmann is quoted in Bloomberg about the rise of vaccine hesitancy during COVID-19. Beate said: “These are of course very personal decisions, but everybody needs to ask themselves: Would I want the vaccine for my child later on, when other people have contributed to making it safe?”

(30/05) Rein Houben explains how asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 could be accelerating the spread of the virus, in The Guardian. Rein said: “For any virus or bacteria, making people infectious but not ill is an excellent way to spread and persist in populations.”

(30/05) On Nine News Melbourne, James Logan explains dogs’ acute sense of smell, following new LSHTM research that is looking into whether dogs can detect COVID-19. James said: “Dogs have an incredibly good sense of smell in comparison to ours and even some of the machinery that we have in our labs.”

(29/05) Mishal Khan warns of the dangers of neocolonialism during COVID-19, in NPR. Mishal said: “The lessons and expertise of the East and of African countries, coupled with the resources and power of the West, could have allowed us all to fare better. And as COVID-19 spreads globally, we will be called upon to collaborate. We need to make sure we answer that call.”

(28/05) Pauline Paterson highlights the importance of public trust in the COVID-19 vaccine development process, on The World. Pauline said: “It’s important to be transparent because there’s a lot of hopes on this vaccine.”

(28/05) On BBC News, Jimmy Whitworth outlines the steps that are needed to ensure the success of the new track and trace system. Jimmy said: “I think for this to really work, we need to get the tests back very quickly – twenty-four hours is what we should be aiming for. And also, we need to make sure that the public has confidence in the system, and does actually follow the guidelines.”

Further LSHTM coverage

(03/06) Vikram Patel explains why we need to take emotional pain as seriously as physical pain on CBC. Vikram said: “It turns out that psychological pain, just like a physical pain, is a fundamental and universal human experience, and I think this is a very powerful piece of science because it suggests to us that knowledge around how you can help people with mental health problems recover that has been generated in one context, can have a great application in other contexts.” 

(01/06) In the Financial Times, Peter Piot emphasises the need for a primary prevention strategy against Ebola, following the latest outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo. Peter said: “Outbreaks of Ebola in central Africa are unavoidable and may be increasing in frequency as the population is growing and more in contact with nature. This is a strong case to deploy Ebola vaccines in the entire region.”

(29/05) Dixon Chibanda explains how the Friendship Bench initiative is helping to bridge the mental healthcare gap in Zimbabwe, on BBC World Service. Dixon said: “It’s a psychological talk therapy that is delivered by trained community grandmothers who spend a month of intensive training on the basics of cognitive behavioural therapy, with an emphasis on problem-solving therapy.”

(28/05) A report led by LSHTM, which found that more preparation is needed to reduce the risk of adverse health effects during periods in the summer when temperatures are below the current heat-health alert thresholds, is featured in the Daily Mail.

On social media

This week’s social media highlight comes from Twitter, where we launched a video with creative media agency, Brickwall, to highlight young people’s social distancing stories across the UK.

Comments are closed.