9 – 15 July

A snapshot of media coverage on COVID-19

David Heymann

(14/07) David discusses the possibility of airborne transmission of COVID-19 in The Guardian. David said: “There is limited evidence that aerosols generated by talking, coughing or sneezing can spread more than 1 metre, thus becoming airborne, and there is limited evidence that airborne transmission plays a role in the community spread of COVID-19.”

(11/07) In the Evening Standard, David highlights the importance of face masks in situations where physical distancing is not possible. David said: “They should also be worn by all people in a situation where no one can physically distance to prevent infection of others – especially in closed spaces such as public transport.”

(10/09) David tells South China Morning Post that the WHO is working with China to allow for more transparency in the pandemic response. David said: “There’s been an insistence that there be transparency and a look back to see what has happened, but that doesn’t stop us from working on the current pandemic and it doesn’t stop future research to understand what the real risks are.”

Jimmy Whitworth

(14/07) Jimmy tells The Independent that wearing face masks is largely for the benefit of others. Jimmy said: “They’re more beneficial if you have a virus and don’t want to pass it on than to prevent catching anything.”

(14/07) Jimmy explains the shift in guidelines around wearing face masks on LBC. Jimmy said: “There’s been a recognition that there’s probably more aerosol transmission than we thought. Previously we thought it was largely due to touching things like door handles and droplets spread. Aerosol means that the virus stays in the air for a bit longer particularly in indoor crowded places.”

(09/07) On BBC Radio London (from 19:16), Jimmy comments on the Hillingdon Hospital COVID-19 outbreak. Jimmy said: “This is a wake-up call that this is a virus that has not gone away, that is highly transmissible, and what we are seeing around the world – including the UK – is that even after lockdown we’re going to be getting clusters of infection still occurring.”

Martin McKee

(14/07) Martin explains the importance of wearing face masks in The Mirror. Martin said: “We have learned it can spread by speaking or singing, not just a cough or sneeze. It is really important to stop the virus escaping from people’s noses and mouths.”

(13/07) Martin talks to LBC about the possibility of airborne transmission of COVID-19. Martin said: “We have evidence that the aerosols can linger in the air if you don’t have very good ventilation.”

(09/07) Martin outlines the role of face masks in reducing COVID-19 transmission, in The Guardian. Martin said: “It’s catching all the little droplets that are coming out of your mouth before they can get into the atmosphere, when they can dry out and become very small and float around as an aerosol.”

Other LSHTM experts

(14/07) Stephan Evans warns that there is no guarantee that a COVID-19 vaccine will provide long-lasting immunity in The Telegraph (£). Stephan said: “It’s possible immunity will be short-lived or even non-existent.”

(14/07) In WIRED, Martin Hibberd suggests that it may not be appropriate, at a global level, to think about COVID-19 in terms of waves. Martins said: “I think waves are a useful concept for individual countries, but it’s not a very useful concept about the world’s progress. If you think about influenza, we don’t call it waves when it comes back every year – we call that seasonal flu.”

(13/07) Katherine Atkins cautions that the pandemic could hamper HIV testing and treatment efforts in New Scientist. Katherine said: “At a global level, it’s unprecedented. This is going to make it worse.”

(13/07) Kathleen O’Reilly discusses the global resurgence of vaccine-derived polio amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in New Scientist. Kathleen said: “What we now have is no kids have been vaccinated in routine type 2 immunisation since 2015 so with all these new births, millions of people essentially have no immunity.”

(13/07) In the Daily Mail, Brendan Wren comments on the surge of COVID-19 cases in Leicester. Brendan said: “Why this outbreak occurred in the east part of Leicester is unclear and we may never know as the  number of cases may be too high to drill down to the fine detail of the original sources of the infection.”

(12/07) Oliver Brady tells The Independent that COVID-19 threatens to curtail dengue prevention efforts in Central America and the Caribbean.

(11/07) John Edmunds explains why local lockdowns may be more appropriate than blanket measures on LBC. John said: “If you had an outbreak in a care home with a lot of cases for instance, then overall the incidence in that population would look like it’s high, but actually in the general population it would be low. You wouldn’t want to lockdown the whole area just because of an outbreak in an enclosed setting.”

(10/07) Rosanna Peeling talks to The Lancet Voice about seroprevalence testing for COVID-19. Rosanna said: “What we need at this stage of the pandemic is a test that could tell us if we have neutralising antibodies that could offer immunity.”

(10/07) Pontiano Kaleebu highlights the importance of an equitable COVID-19 vaccine in Africa, in the New York Times. Pontiano said: “The big challenge is we are looking at requiring billions of doses of vaccine. It is really going to be how companies can scale up and make it affordable and accessible.”

(10/07) On BBC News, Adam Kucharski explains the underlying principles that drive viral misinformation. Adam said: “One of the big differences we have between biological viruses and online ones is how quickly spread can happen. For COVID-19, it might take a few days or weeks for transmission. Online that can be seconds or minutes.”

Further LSHTM coverage

(15/07) Lioba Hirsch and Mishal Khan discuss LSHTM’s colonial history and neocolonial structures within global health, in Times Higher Education. Lioba and Mishal said: “Those in the higher echelons of global health have recognised that more needs to change.”

(10/07) Jeanette Bailey discusses her new paper that shows a new simplified approach to treating acute malnutrition is as effective as current system, but cheaper, in The Telegraph (£). Jeanette said: “Many children are diagnosed only after they have deteriorated to the most severe and deadly forms of acute malnutrition. Simplified approaches could encourage earlier detection and treatment, and ultimately save lives.”

On social media

This week’s social media highlight comes from Twitter, where we celebrated ranking 3rd in the world for Public Health, in ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects.

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