16 – 22 January 2020

A snapshot of media coverage on the coronavirus outbreak

Peter Piot speaks to…

(20/01/2020) Sky News about whether the outbreak is a cause for global concern. Peter said: “This epidemic is developing very rapidly. The reality is in today’s world, no outbreak remains necessarily local. We need to put in place all possible measures.”

(21/01/2020) BBC Radio 4 World at One (from 21:40) about the risk of widespread transmission. Peter said: “It is unclear how dangerous this is in terms of transmission but a big test will be the mass migration of millions of Chinese for Lunar New Year. We already have cases in Thailand, Japan and Korea but the good news is that at first sight, it doesn’t look as fatal as SARs.”

David Heymann talks to…

(20/01/2020) LBC about how the public can protect against coronavirus. David said: “People can protect against the virus by making sure that they are very careful if they are around wild animals or handling animals. But also they can also prevent transmission by staying away from people who have it.”

(21/01/2020) Bloomberg about China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. David said: “The initial response has been quite rapid and hopefully effective. They have made great progress.” David is also quoted in The Japan Times and Yahoo! News.

(22/01/2020) BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme (from 2:02:16) about the risk of “face-to-face” transmission. David said: “It’s not really known exactly how it is transmitted and that’s what is key to understanding whether it will spread as rapidly as SARS did.”

(22/01/2020) BBC News (from 03:01) about whether the novel coronavirus poses a serious enough threat for the World Health Organisation to call it a public health concern. David said: “They will assess the outbreak based on three conditions: Is it unusual? Is it spreading internationally? And does it risk causing disruption to travel and trade?”

(22/01/2020) BBC World Service (from 01:03) about how much is known about the novel virus. David said: “What’s important is not what’s known, it’s what’s not known. We don’t know its full potential. Is this a virus that could continue to circulate in the human population and become endemic? Or is it one that will cause an outbreak and disappear?”

(22/01/2020) NPR about how the disease is transmitted. David said: “Whenever a virus enters the human population from animals, we don’t know its full potential at that time.”

(23/01/2020) The Telegraph (£) about the implementation of screening at airports to prevent the spread of the virus. 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.”

Adam Kucharski speaks to…

(22/01/2020) ITV News about the likelihood of person-to-person transmission. Adam said: “It is not clear whether we are seeing sporadic human cases or if it is something capable of sustaining transmission, which would be much more concerning.”

(22/01/2020) BBC News (from 17:07) about the scale of the outbreak. Adam said: “There’s a number of factors that are certainly concerning, in particular evidence of human-to-human transmission, healthcare workers being affected and cases being exported to other areas. There’s still a lot we don’t know about how much human transmission is occurring.”

(22/01/2020) LBC about the likelihood of an outbreak in the UK. Adam said: “At the moment the risk is low but I think it’s good that we’re seeing this vigilance for cases to potentially arrive in London – a major transport hub. We’ve seen that cases have been exported to a number of different countries and most recently the U.S.”

(23/01/2020) Sky News about the variations in incubation period between the novel coronavirus and SARS. Adam said: “For SARS it was just over eight-days and if this is a similar virus, we’d be looking at potentially a week between exposure of the virus and symptoms, but whether that is the same as SARS will become clearer in the coming weeks.”

(23/01/2020) The Times (£) on the impact of the coronavirus. Adam said: “We have a lot more global connectivity than we did 50 to 100 years ago. And there is a lot more global collaboration in terms of tackling health emergencies. Small outbreaks in one country can spread to others much faster than they might once have done. However, as we are seeing with this outbreak, information is emerging much faster.”

Roz Eggo speaks to…

(20/01/2020) Al Jazeera about how easily identifiable the virus is. Roz said: “At the moment it’s the middle of the influenza season in China and this seems to be a disease that causes a flu-like illness. It can be difficult to detect whether this is a normal flu-like infection or one caused by the new coronavirus.”

(22/01/2020) ITV News about how the virus spreads. Roz said: “There are a lot of unknowns at the moment. We know it can spread from person-to-person but we don’t know how efficient it is. We don’t know if it is very transmittable.”

(22/01/2020) 5 News about the extent to which the virus can be contained. Roz said: “Right now we haven’t had a confirmed case reach the UK and the Chinese authorities are doing as much as they possible to try and contain it, like isolating the cases once they are in hospital, tracing their contacts and prevent them from transmitting as soon as possible after they develop symptoms. These kind of things will help to control it.”

Jimmy Whitworth talks to…

(21/01/2020) BBC Radio 4 Today Programme (from 02:34) about the need for screening measures in airports. Jimmy said: “The most obvious thing to do would be to institute some thermal screening so that we identify people who have fever but that could be supplemented by questionnaires.”

(22/01/2020) The Telegraph (£) about new cases emerging overseas. Jimmy said: “The Thai patient sounds like somebody who has slipped through the net. If one person has, have others? This does raise the stakes slightly.”

Other LSHTM experts…

(20/01/2020) John Edmunds is quoted in the Mirror about the risk of transmission. John said: “Whilst there have been two cases that have traveled to Thailand from Wuhan, there is no evidence of any transmission of this virus in Thailand as yet.”

(22/01/2020) Beate Kampmann spoke to BBC Radio 2 (from 00:53) about China’s precautionary measures. Beate said: “Infection control means you have to try and stop people from infecting other people. Wuhan is a huge city… to stop people from travelling would be a hard call but hopefully they’ll oblige because it’s the right thing to do.”

(22/01/2020) Beate also appears on BBC News and talks about how to differentiate symptoms from the flu. Beate said: “The main thing to differentiate are people’s travel history and whether they have come from an area where the coronavirus emerged from. That really is the first question that people need to ask themselves if they have symptoms.”

Further LSHTM coverage

Peter Piot appears on PBS News Hour (from 0:53) from to discuss the scientific progress made against the Ebola outbreak in the DRC. Peter said: “The last five years, scientific developments get an A-plus, no doubt about that.”

Heidi Larson also appears on PBS News Hour (from 4:20) to discuss how online misinformation is complicating the DRC’s Ebola battle. Heidi said: “One of the biggest things we know from rumour spread is that they thrive in times of uncertainty, where people need an answer, are eager for an answer.”

The additions of Marie Sklodowska-Curie, Alice Ball and Florence Nightingale are the subject of an exclusive feature in The BMJ. Peter Piot said: “Attitudes were very different 90 years ago, but having only men on our frieze has always troubled me. Our frieze now better reflects the talented and diverse people who work at LSHTM and in global health around the world.”

Jimmy Whitworth provides expert comment for the Daily Mail’s story on a study that suggests a new method of developing vaccines could allow for vaccines to be stored at room temperature and have a longer shelf life. Jimmy said: “All in all, promising – and definitely worth following up to demonstrate its stability at relevant temperatures, that it works with a variety of vaccine constructs, and that it induces immune responses in humans.”

An LSHTM study that found heart rate and sleep data from wearable devices such as Fitbits can predict real-time outbreaks of flu was covered in the Daily Mail, Reuters and Yahoo! News. Roz Eggo said: “Further analysis is required to gauge how reliable these data are over time, how specific these measurements are for flu, and how representative Fitbit users are of the whole population.”

LSHTM analysis on the proliferation of counterfeit medicine in sub-Saharan African was featured in BBC News

Research by LSHTM into the long-term effects of concussion and ‘heading’ on brain health was featured in BBC News.

Comments are closed.