5 – 10 June

A snapshot of media coverage on COVID-19

Liam Smeeth

(09/06) Liam warns that it is too “premature” to say that COVID-19 is in retreat in all regions of the UK, on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme (from 1:22:55). Liam said: “We don’t have community screening in all areas so we have to model & make assumptions. Some of these are best estimates.”

(09/06) Liam is quoted in Reuters commenting on the statement made by WHO that asymptomatic transmission is “very rare”. Liam said: “It goes against my impressions from the science so far that suggest asymptomatic people – who never get symptoms – and pre-symptomatic people are an important source of infection to others.”

(08/06) Liam discusses the need for public confidence in government actions in his opinion piece in The Guardian. Liam said: “Only with a clear strategy will we be able to unite the nation in a collective shared response to the epidemic, with everyone accepting that there will be hardship and discomfort, but that together we can beat this.”

(04/06) Liam outlines new rules on wearing face coverings on public transport in the UK, on Channel 4 News. Liam said: “It’s very much about protecting people around you. A face covering can lessen the distance that droplets spread from your nose and mouth.”

John Edmunds

(07/06) John discusses herd immunity as a way to end the spread of COVID-19 on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One. John said: “That’s how the epidemic eventually will end … that’s how every epidemic works. Via vaccination is how we want it to be achieved but we will be under these restrictions in some way until levels of immunity are such in the population that we don’t have to take extra precautions to stop chains of transmission.”

(06/06) John talks about community transmission on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme (from 1:13:25). John said: “We have to look at community transmission in particular because if that starts to go up, then that really is a problem.”

Stephen Evans

(05/06) Stephen writes in The Independent about the dangers of science misinformation during COVID-19. Stephen said: “For most of this year, science has been frontpage news and discussed in other media as never before. However, media interest does not necessarily promote good science. While it is important in a pandemic to respond rapidly, the scientific community may need to reflect on whether it has at times been pushed, perhaps by media interest, into doing things too quickly.”

(04/06) In CNN, Stephen comments on The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine retracting two coronavirus studies after concerns were raised about the data used. Stephen said: “Data providers should be able to confirm that they have provided data with at the very least, the approximate numbers of patients involved. It is correct to retract the paper in these circumstances.”

Other LSHTM experts

(09/06) Preliminary research co-led by LSHTM and UCL that found an effective test-trace-isolate strategy is likely to prevent a secondary COVID-19 wave in the UK, is featured in CNBC.

(09/06) Sebastian Funk explains why the R number only offers partial insight into COVID-19 transmission, on BBC Radio 5 Live. Sebastian said: “The reproduction number indicates the direction of travel but quite generally the level of infection is at least as important if not more important than the reproduction number.”

(08/06) Kristine Belesova is quoted in The Telegraph (£), calling on the government to deliver a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Kristine said: “The COVID-19 pandemic really illustrates how we have been ignoring the connections between nature and human health.”

(08/06) In The Guardian, Martin Hibberd discusses the UK COVID-19 death toll, amid figures falling to their lowest daily total since the lockdown was announced. Martin said: “While the numbers thankfully seem to be trending down for now, they are still relatively high compared with other countries such as Germany, and unfortunately do not indicate future consequences of today’s actions, as they have the longest lag period of any of the indicators used to track COVID-19.”

(08/06) Sally Bloomfield explains in the Daily Mail why thorough handwashing is crucial during COVID-19. Sally said: “Touching your eyes, nose and mouth while any part of the hand still possibly has virus particles on it risks affecting the tissues and cells, from which the virus can be passed to the lining of the lungs.”

(05/06) David Heymann is quoted in The Telegraph (£) about whether there is an ‘endgame’ for COVID-19 without treatments or vaccines. David said: “We don’t yet know the destiny of this virus. It could become endemic in humans. Or it could disappear.”

(04/06) On LBC, Martin McKee explains the change in government guidelines around wearing face coverings. Martin said: “We now know that the transmission of the virus is quite different in some important ways. In particular, the amount of transmission that takes place before people develop symptoms and obviously through coughing but also to a much greater extent by singing, shouting and speaking loudly.”

(04/06) Heidi Larson talks about the success of Gavi’s Global Vaccine Summit on Al Jazeera. Heidi said: “Because of the pandemic there’s been a tremendous interruption to other routine immunisations that will take an extraordinary effort to catch-up, so it’s been a fantastic amount of support recognising that.”

(04/06) Mark Jitt outlines some of the challenges in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine on CBC. Mark said: “What happens in the real world when we give them to people is something we can’t completely predict. We can’t always tell from the design of the vaccine or from what happens in animals.”

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