2 – 8 July

A snapshot of media coverage on COVID-19

Heidi Larson

(07/07) Heidi Larson tells The Telegraph (£) that governments and public health officials will need to reassure the public that any new COVID-19 vaccine is safe. Heidi said: “If there was one moment to feature the value of vaccines, now is that moment. But unfortunately, in this context of uncertainty, it has been fertile ground for these anti-groups to leap in.”

(04/07) In The Telegraph (£), Heidi highlights the importance of building public trust in vaccines, following polls in the US, Germany and the Czech Republic that found 50% of people were sceptical of getting any COVID-19 vaccine that is developed. Heidi said: “It’s going to be a challenge, particularly because in general, populations are more anxious about new vaccines and that’s understandable.”

David Heymann

(08/07) David discusses America’s departure from the World Health Organisation, on Voice of America. David said: “As much as it would be terrible if the U.S. leaves WHO and leaves with that expertise it has provided throughout the years, the WHO would continue to function.”

(08/07) David speaks to the Daily Mail about the animal studies that could help test for COVID-19 airborne transmission. David said: “One of these is to put an animal that can be infected with this virus into various places around rooms in hospitals or wherever, to see if those animals are being infected, and that’s being done with hamsters.”

(08/07) David tells South China Morning Post that, while pinpointing COVID-19’s exact route into humans may not be possible, scientists can build stronger hypotheses. David said: “Those hypotheses will serve future research by identifying what you want to look at more closely.”

(05/07) David reflects on the different COVID-19 strategies adopted by countries around the world, in The Telegraph (£). David said: “Why didn’t all countries take an Asain style epidemiological approach? I think many countries planned more for an influenza-type virus which – rightly or wrongly – is seen as more difficult to contain.”

Adam Kucharski

(07/07) Adam discusses the emotional dynamics behind misinformation spreading with CBS This Morning. Adam said: “Information that triggers fundamental emotions like anger and disgust can spread further than information that doesn’t stimulate those kind of responses.”

(04/07) Adam explains why timing is crucial in reducing the spread of COVID-19, in The Washington Post. Adam said: “Just the nature of this virus means you have a really small window to catch that next round of infection events before they, in turn, go on to infect other people.”

Jimmy Whitworth

(07/07) In CNN, Jimmy comments on a confirmed case of bubonic plague in Inner Mongolia. Jimmy said: “While plague causes severe illness, if it is recognized promptly then it can be easily treated with antibiotics and patients will make a full recovery. The press reports indicate that this is the case in Inner Mongolia now, suggesting that there is no risk to public health.”

(07/07) Jimmy discusses the COVID-19 vaccine development process with LBC. Jimmy said: “We need to make sure that not only is it effective but also that it is safe. We need to go through the same procedures as usual, but in a much more accelerated time frame.”

Martin McKee

(08/07) Martin tells The Guardian that controlling the spread of COVID-19 infection indoors needs to be a priority. Martin said: “The risks are far greater indoors so, where possible, I would encourage people to eat al fresco, taking advantage of the summer weather. Personally, I would be very cautious about mixing with people without face coverings indoors until the level of circulating virus is much lower.”

(06/07) Martin McKee warns that the possibility of airborne coronavirus transmission might mean stricter interventions are needed indoors, in NBC. Martin said: “We’re getting accumulating evidence about super-spreading events happening in indoor spaces where there are large numbers of people in confined spaces. Many of these are in exactly the circumstances that governments now want to open up.”

Other LSHTM experts

(02/07) Annelies Wilder-Smith discusses the socio-economic inequalities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic in Bloomberg. Annelies said: “The U.S. has a system that doesn’t allow the vulnerable or marginalized to fall into an insurance network.”

(02/07) LSHTM research that is looking into the development of a standardised UK-wide system for detecting coronavirus in wastewater, features in The Independent.

(03/07) Sebastian Funk outlines the issue with ‘nowcasting’ infections on the basis of trends in past COVID-19 cases, in Nature. Sebastian said: “You can try to do that, but for obvious reasons it always comes with uncertainty. There’s no way that you can know how many cases would still be observed that have already been infected.”

(03/07) John Edmunds discusses whether COVID-19 can spread via faeces, in The Independent. John said: “With modern, very highly sensitive detection mechanisms we can detect these viruses in faeces. Usually viruses detected in this way are not infectious to others, as they have been destroyed by the gut.”

(03/07) Sally tells BBC Radio 5 Live (from 11:09) that everyone has to take personal responsibility for their own behaviours, amid the reopening of pubs and restaurants. Sally said: “The pubs and the restauranteurs have facilitated it so that we can have a safe experience but it’s still more than 50% down to us. There is an increase in risk from going from two metres to one metre, but it’s really down to us. We’re entering another big scientific experiment by further relaxing.”

(04/07) A recent call to action by Lucy Platt et al. in The Lancet is highlighted in The New York Times. The authors said: “Sex workers are among the most marginalized groups. It is crucial that disruption to health services does not further reduce access to HIV treatment.”

(04/07) Peter Piot talks about the long-term health effects of COVID-19, in The Telegraph (£). Peter said: “The virus disappears, but its consequences linger for weeks. Now that I have felt the compelling presence of a virus in my body myself, I look at viruses differently. I realise this one will change my life, despite the confrontational experiences I’ve had with viruses before. I feel more vulnerable.”

(04/07) In The Independent, Martin Hibberd disputes claims that a coronavirus sample held for years in a Wuhan laboratory could have mutated via genetic experimentation. Martin said: “To do so would be exceptionally difficult. They are not the same virus and I don’t think you can easily manipulate one into the other.”

(07/07) David Mabey tells the Daily Mail that it is unlikely bubonic plague will become a global threat. David said: “The disease is transmitted from rodents to human by flea bites. There were a number of cases recently in Madagascar where it was suspected there might have been human to human transmission due to so called pneumonic plague, when the infection spreads via the blood stream to the lungs, but this was never proven.”

(07/07) James speaks to BBC Radio 5 Live (from 1:55:41) about dogs’ odour detection abilities and their potential to detect COVID-19. James said: “If we can detect a teaspoon of sugar in a cup of tea, a dog can detect a teaspoon of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and it’s that level of sophistication that dogs have in terms of their abilities to smell.”

On social media

This week’s social media highlight comes from Instagram, where we debuted our brand new ‘COVID-19 detection dogs’ filters.

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