7 – 13 February

A snapshot of media coverage on the coronavirus outbreak

LSHTM has garnered over 3,400 pieces of online media coverage and 610 pieces of broadcast coverage on the coronavirus outbreak since 1 January.

Adam Kucharski speaks to…

(12/02) BBC Radio 4 (from 11:40) about the effectiveness of quarantine measures aboard the Diamond cruise ship in Japan. Adam said: We want to find measures that can reduce the potential for onward outbreaks but in doing that we also need to consider the people that are being placed under quarantine and whether we’re putting them in an environment where their transmission risk is greater than needs to be.”

(10/02) Sky News about when the virus could potentially peak. Adam said: “We are seeing in recent days evidence of slow down in the number of cases appearing. Whether that is a genuine change in transmission, we are working hard to untangle.”

(10/02) The Washington Post (£) about the containment of the
coronavirus in the UK, following a British national spreading the virus to 11
other Britons. Adam said: 
“It’s reassuring from a control point of view
that these cases are linked. We are not seeing five, 10 cases appearing that
we’ve got no idea where they have come from.

(09/02) Bloomberg about the potential transmission dynamics of the virus. Adam said: “Assuming current trends continue, we’re still projecting a mid-to-late-February peak. There’s a lot of uncertainty, so I’m cautious about picking out a single value for the peak, but it’s possible based on current data we might see a peak prevalence over 5%.”

(08/02) The Guardian about the dangers of misinformation on the virus. Adam said: “At best, misinformation can distract from important messages. At worst, it can lead to behaviour that amplifies disease transmission. The novelty of coronavirus makes the challenge even greater, because viral speculation can easily overwhelm the limited information we do have.”

David Heymann speaks to…

(11/02) NPR about the formal naming process for SARS, following the renaming of the coronavirus by WHO. David said: “There were no rules at that time about how to name it, so we just went ahead and did it. The first thing we decided was it would be good to have a name that had the same type of a ring as AIDS — easy to say and short.”

(11/02) NewScientist about the difficulty in predicting the virulence of the disease. David said: “You can’t really gauge what’s going on with this.”

(10/02) BBC Radio 4 (from 9:00) about containment strategies and how people can protect themselves. David said: “It’s always a difficult decision on whether you concentrate on individuals to protect the population, or vice versa.”

(10/02) The Financial Times (£) about the MERS outbreak in 2014, citing it as an indication of the effectiveness of the UK’s approach to protecting against outbreaks. David said: “They know how to do this in the UK. The UK has decided to protect its entire population so it doesn’t spread further.”

(10/02) The Guardian about whether the virus can be contained. David said: “SARS emerged in one or two people. This current outbreak it seems was quite explosive at the start – it was many different people infected at the start, and they each set off their own chain of transmission.”

(09/02) The Straits Times about Singapore moving its disease outbreak response up a level. David said: “You have to put precautionary measures in until you understand what the potential of this outbreak is. Every precautionary measure based on national assessment should be followed.”

John Edmunds is quoted in…

(11/02) South China Morning Post about the accuracy of official data from China. John said: “The data from China are so crude that it is impossible to get an accurate picture of what is going on.”

(10/02) BBC News about how people with worse personal hygiene such as children, are more likely to transmit infections than others. John said: “That’s why closing schools can be a good measure.”

(09/02) The Daily Mail about the effectiveness of travel restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus. John said: “Travel restrictions would buy us more valuable time.”

(08/02) The Daily Mail about the difficulty in predicting the true scale of the outbreak. John said: “It’s a mild disease that might be missed if somebody doesn’t seek healthcare. And none of the tests are going to be 100% sensitive so it is not unusual to only capture maybe 10% of the cases.”

Brendan Wren talks to…

(10/02) Channel 4 News (from 01:00) about why the term ‘super-spreader’ is flawed when it comes to describing people who inadvertently infect others with the coronavirus. Brendan said: “Some people may transmit the disease because they are in close proximity to a lot of people. It doesn’t make them a super-spreader. We have to think the opposite. There have been many who have been in contact with people who have the disease and it’s not spread to them.”

(10/02) Sky News about current prevention measures in the UK. Brendan said: “Public Health England are taking suitable measures. Quarantining people from the epicentre in China is a sensible step because we need to nip this in the bud before it gets into the general population.”

(10/02) LBC about the risk of transmission outside of the two-week incubation period. Brendan said: “We don’t know everything about this novel coronavirus but two weeks in quite a long time. From what we know so far, I think that should be a safe period.”

Other LSHTM experts

(12/02) Beate Kampmann tells BBC Radio London (from 19:30) why labelling individuals ‘super-spreaders’ is flawed. Beate said: “To stigmatise or victimise them is not justifiable.”

(12/02) Edward Parker discusses a new mapping tool that has been developed by LSHTM’s Vaccine Centre to track the history of the coronavirus in The Conversation. Edward said: “Our hope is that this tool will provide more context to the daily headlines and a fresh perspective on key turning points in the disease’s history.” 

(11/02) Preliminary research by LSHTM’s Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases on the transmission and control of the virus features in Business Insider and The Straits Times

(10/02) Martin Hibberd considers the coronavirus’ estimated case-fatality rate in Yahoo! News. Martin said: “This is reminiscent of the 2009-nH1N1 influenza strain [bird flu], where initial estimates were also much higher than the now more established less than 0.1% rate overall. It is worth noting though this pandemic caused serious additional problems to healthcare systems worldwide, showing why governments have placed such importance on this new coronavirus even as the case fatality rate drops.”

(09/02) Peter Piot discusses the potential for the outbreak to become a pandemic in The Sunday Times (£). Peter said: It’s a greater threat because of the mode of transmission. The potential for spread is much, much higher.”

Further LSHTM coverage

Sanjay Kinra appears on BBC Two’s ‘Trust Me, I’m a Doctor’ (from 03:00) to test whether gentle yoga can lower individuals’ blood pressure as much as a workout.

Research by LSHTM’s Ana Bonell which assesses the impact of hot weather on prematurity in Africa is featured in Reuters.

Clare Chandler discusses the social problems that underlie antibiotic resistance in SciDevNet. Clare said: “This is inherently a social problem as well as a biological problem, we cannot treat it only as something that is happening in the realm of biology, otherwise we can’t address it.

Rachel Lowe explains why the dengue outbreak in Latin America is so severe in CGTN. Rachel said: “Part of it could be to do with having suitable climate conditions that can help the mosquitoes breed and spread the disease further.”

Research by LSHTM that is looking into brain function in former professional footballers is featured in The Telegraph (£).

Brendan Wren comments on a new antibiotic with a “unique approach” to killing bacteria in the Daily Mail. Brendan said: “The study is a promising approach to discovering new antibiotics against MRSA and possibly other bacteria. However, as this new group of antibiotics have only been tested in mice, there is still a long way to go before this could be a product as there will be considerations of costs and testing for toxicity and efficacy in humans.”

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