23 – 29 April

A snapshot of media coverage on COVID-19

Beate Kampmann

(25/04) Beate explains the vaccine development process on LBC. Beate said: “We need a vaccine that’s safe and effective. We need to be sure that the trials that are done are robust. This takes time.”

(24/04) Beate urges the importance of both safety and efficacy in the vaccine development process on BBC Radio Scotland (from 16:10). Beate said: “You want to know that the vaccine you’ve given makes the immune system produce the kind of response that we think is associated with not getting the virus … there’s no point in having a vaccine that’s as safe as a glass of water but it doesn’t actually do anything. Both of those parameters are very important.”

(23/04) Beate outlines the approximate timeline of the Oxford vaccine trial on BBC Wales (from 1:15:00). Beate said: “In the next few weeks, we will get an idea of the safety profile. But the people in the trial are in it for at least six months. The results of the trial only become available if you have that whole group of people vaccinated.”

Stefan Flasche

(27/04) Stefan explains in BBC News that ‘social bubbles’ may be an important coping mechanism for people while the search for a COVID-19 vaccine continues. Stefan said: “It’s not designed to solve the pandemic, but it will help the social component. We will have the risk of Covid for a long time, so anything to keep society functioning would help.”

(27/04) Stefan discusses how contact clustering could potentially be managed on BBC News. Stefan said: “It would be impossible to police but it’s the responsibility of all of us to adhere to the guidelines.”

Francesco Checchi

(25/04) Francesco discusses potential lockdown exit strategies on BBC News. Francesco said: “You have to be very, very sure that the moment that the lockdown ends, the exit strategy is firmly in place. If we are to go down the route that South Korea took, which is essentially to rely extensively on testing, then you have to reduce the number of infections left over to such an amount that it is manageable for a testing and contact tracing system.”

(25/04) Francesco explains that intervention strategies in resource-constrained countries could combine self-isolation, moderate physical distancing and shielding for the most effective COVID-19 response on Sky News. Francesco said: “These are economies that are unable to go much beyond two months in lockdown.”

David Leon

(28/04) David is quoted in the Evening Standard about London’s COVID-19 death toll. David said: “The data confirm that the fall in London has been particularly steep from the peak on April 8.”

(27/04) On Euronews, David proposes the need for real-time monitoring of excess deaths to predict the probable course of the pandemic. David said: “This notion of excess deaths is the only really comparable way of looking at whether or not countries did better or worse in terms of what happened to COVID-19.”

(26/04) David proposes in The Financial Times that monitoring excess deaths could be a way of tracking the true toll of COVID-19. David said: “If we want to understand the ways different countries have responded to the surging pandemic and how it has affected the health of the population, the best way is to count excess deaths.”

David Heymann

(28/04) David urges the importance of testing before easing lockdown measures on CNN. David said: “The best testing strategy includes a test to determine when somebody is acutely sick, but also testing to determine when people have been sick in the past, which is an antibody test.”

(28/04) David talks about the impact of COVID-19 on migrant communities in Bloomberg. David said: “The areas at risk are those that have migrant workers living in close quarters such as is happening in Asia. It happens in South Africa, it happens in the Middle East, so wherever you go I think you can find these situations, and what’s important is they be dealt with properly and they respect the rights of those who are sick.”

Martin McKee

(25/04) Martin comments in Bloomberg on the difficulty to determine how many virus-related deaths have occurred in UK care homes. Martin said: “Without good data, I can’t actually understand how you can even start thinking about opening up.”

(23/04) Martin discusses in The Guardian the possible options for easing lockdown measures in the UK. Martin said: “Throughout this process, it will be essential to follow what other countries are doing. The approaches taken by various European countries offer a natural laboratory in which to test our own ideas. We must avoid simplistic comparisons, but also accept that the different approaches offer many learning opportunities.”

(23/04) Martin cautions that the UK is not yet ready to completely ease lockdown restrictions on Sky News. Martin said: “We will have to maintain restrictions at least until the end of the year. I think that was a very good reality check that we are a long way from the end of this yet.”

(23/04) Brendan outlines the shift in dialogue around the potential effectiveness of wearing face masks on BBC Radio 4. Brendan said: “New research coming out of Hong Kong University shows that even a tea towel or any cloth covering can significantly reduce the spread of coronaviruses. One of the reasons for this is that unlike a number of other respiratory diseases that are spread by coughing from people already showing symptoms, coronaviruses are spread by ordinary talking, often before people develop symptoms.”

Brendan Wren

(27/04) Brendan outlines the potential reasons why a person infected with COVID-19 may not show any symptoms in Newsweek. Brendan said: “Their overall immune system keeps it in check, and the individual has a sub-clinical infection, rather like a vaccine. In addition, individuals are genetically different and some have a more efficient immune response to initially counteract the virus.”

(27/04) Brendan discusses Japan’s second wave of COVID-19 infections on BBC Radio 5 Live (from 17:25). Brendan said: “It is inevitable that there will be secondary flare-ups because we do have a immunological naive population, so most people in all countries will still be susceptible to infection.”

(23/04) Brendan discusses the progress of the University of Oxford’s vaccine trial on BBC News. Brendan said: “The vaccine technology used by the Oxford group is quite a simple plug and play system that they had been developing for many years, and they have already tested versions of this. After the Ebola outbreak five years ago in West Africa, we know how it trials a lot better and the way we develop vaccine technology has improved.”

Other LSHTM experts

(27/04) Roz Eggo and Chris Grundy explain to Nature that, untangling the effectiveness of #COVID19 control measures will be crucial to knowing which ones can be safely removed. Roz said: “If we don’t know what works, it’s going to be really difficult to decide what to do next.” Chris said: “Days make a difference right now.”

(27/04) Adam Kucharski speaks to ITV News about the effectiveness of different COVID-19 control measures. Adam said: “Testing alone can be very useful for monitoring the outbreak. But if you detect cases too late, when they have already transmitted, that is when contact tracing can be invaluable. But even contact tracing that’s extensive may require additional physical distancing.”

(27/04) Graham Medley is quoted in The Independent about a new children’s e-book that he has helped to develop with the illustrator of The Gruffalo to reassure children during the pandemic. Graham said: “This pandemic is changing children’s lives across the globe and will have a lasting impact on us all. Helping children understand what is going on is an important step in helping them cope and making them part of the story – this is something that we are all going through, not something being done to them.”

(27/04) Edward Parker highlights in The Guardian the importance of sustaining routine immunisation during COVID-19. Edward said: “As we marvel at the efforts of researchers racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine, we must match this with ingenuity in delivering the vaccines that are already available. We may be faced with a new foe, but old ones lie in wait. We must find ways to keep vaccinating.”

(25/04) John Edmunds cautions against lifting UK lockdown measures too early in the Daily Mail. John said: “If we lifted the lockdown now, the testing and tracing system would be overwhelmed. We will have to get case numbers down a lot lower than they are now before we can think of lifting current regulations.”

(25/04) Annelies Wilder-Smith urges the importance of global coordination to streamline COVID-19 vaccine efforts on Al Jazeera. Annelies said: “We need to combine forces, talents and resources, and work together to accelerate the development of a vaccine. It needs to be a coordinated approach.”

(24/04) Stephen Evans speaks to The Telegraph (£) about the preliminary results of a Remdesivir trial. Stephen said: “The leaked data suggest that those on remdesivir and on placebo had similar outcomes.  The mortality rate on remdesivir seems to be 13.9 per cent while on placebo was 12.8 per cent.”

(24/04) Nicholas Davies discusses whether is it safe for schools in the UK to reopen in the Financial Times. Nicholas said: “Anything that risks re-establishing bridges of transmission between households that are currently isolated from each other should be approached with caution. I would say it is still too early to safely reopen schools.”

Social Media

This week’s social media highlight comes from Twitter, where we we marked World Malaria Day by highlighting the continued, urgent need for research into malaria control.

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