30 August – 5 July

A snapshot of media coverage on COVID-19

Rashida Ferrand

(04/08) Rashida explains how the COVID-19 crisis in Zimbabwe is being aggravated by the strike of healthcare workers on Euronews. Rashida said: “We barely have any doctors or nurses providing any services for coronavirus or any other acute or chronic healthcare services.”

(03/08) Rashida tells BBC World Service (from 27:04) that Zimbabwe is facing a “disaster” from a shortage of staff and inadequate PPE, amid rising COVID-19 infections. Rashida said: “Many neighbouring countries may be facing challenges such as lack of beds, but where Zimbabwe stands out is that we do not have healthcare workers.”

Chris Bonell

(04/08) Chris is quoted in The Independent about a new modelling study that suggests effective contact tracing measures are essential for the safe opening of schools during COVID-19. Chris said: “Our study should not be used to keep schools shut because of a fear of a second wave but as a loud call to action to improve the infection control measures and test and trace system so we can get children back to school.”

(04/08) Chris highlights the importance of public trust for an effective test and trace system on Sky News. Chris said: “I think test and trace requires people to trust in the system and that’s something that needs to be worked at in order for people to report their contacts, but also for people then to isolate when they’re requested to do so.”

John Edmunds

(04/08) John expresses concern over the UK’s “clunky” test and trace system and tells BBC Newsnight (from 26:33) that it is failing to give epidemiologists the data that they need. John said: “I couldn’t care less whether it’s world beating or not. I just want it to be virus beating – and it’s not.”

(03/08) John is quoted in Bloomberg about the need for more research on the role of children in COVID-19 transmission. John said: “We urgently need large-scale research programs to carefully monitor the impact of schools reopening. Many questions remain, including whether there are age-related differences in susceptibility and the likelihood of transmission between children and adolescents.”

Martin McKee

(03/08) Martin discusses the possibility of achieving a ‘zero COVID’ strategy in the UK, in iNews. Martin said: “New Zealand has shown what is possible and, although not there yet, Scotland and Ireland are heading that way. We need much more ambition, but there are also a series of practical steps.”

(03/08) Martin talks to Euronews about the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Europe. Martin said: “I think we need to be careful about the language around second waves and second surges. I think what we’re seeing is a resurgence of a number of countries that perhaps opened up before they really got the levels of circulating virus down to a very low level.”

(30/08) Martin comments on whether monitoring excess deaths in the UK provides an accurate understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on Sky News. Martin said: “Across Europe, it’s clear that there are variations in the extent to which deaths are being coded due to COVID-19. So we should be looking at the overall adjusted excess mortality and now that we have those figures, I think they give us a very good picture.”

Other LSHTM experts

(05/08) James Logan tells The Telegraph that the risk to dogs is low in a trial to find out whether they could be used as a rapid testing measure for COVID-19. James said: “The dogs won’t have to come into contact with any infected person. They can detect them from a distance.”

(05/08) Annelies Wilder-Smith is quoted in The Metro about the number of infected arrivals in the UK in mid-March. Annelies said: “If you say there were about one million people arriving between March 13 and March 23, I think that there would have been at least 1,000 infected people — probably up to 10,000 — who brought it in.”

(04/08) Pauline Paterson explains how negative online information can impact vaccine confidence on BBC World Service (from 02:05). Pauline said: “On social media, anyone can be an ‘expert’ and concerns can spread quickly and far.”

(04/08) Heidi Larson outlines the need for better communication on how novel technologies and funding programmes have accelerated COVID-19 vaccine trials in the Financial Times. Heidi said: “There was this hope in the public health community that COVID-19 will finally wake up the anti-vaccine people. But it’s done almost the opposite.”

(04/08) Alex Bowmer outlines his experience of taking part in the Oxford vaccine trial on Channel 4 (from 33:07). Alex said: “I’m feeling excited, a sense of doing something which is good.”

(04/08) Peter Smith highlights the scientific standards required before a vaccine is approved for use in Quartz. Peter said: “I think it unlikely that regulatory authorities in the EU or the US would authorise widespread use of a COVID-19 vaccine without first having evidence of both efficacy and safety.”

(03/08) Kathleen O’Reilly emphasises the importance of safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19 elimination in iNews. Kathleen said: “As a country we are barely six months into experiencing Covid-19, vaccines are being trialled but the safety and efficacy of the vaccines still need to be assessed. It is still too early in this pandemic to know whether the UK could eliminate the virus.”

(03/08) Adam Kucharski is quoted in The Sun about the role of indoor gatherings in COVID-19 transmission. Adam said: “If you look at where these super-spreading events occur, it’s often at family gatherings, and meals and weddings and parties.”

(02/08) Anna Vassall tells The Wall Street Journal that it is difficult to measure how social behaviour has changed in Pakistan to reduce COVID-19 transmissibility. Anna said: “The decline in Pakistan is promising. But we are not yet certain as to the cause, nor how long it will last.”

(02/08) Mark Jit cautions that there is no guarantee that a potential COVID-19 vaccine will provide long-term immunity on BBC World Service (from from 38:28). Mark said: “The ideal vaccine will be one where you give it to somebody and they are guaranteed to be protected from infection for life but that might not be the case. We might have a vaccine that wanes so people only have short-term protection.”

(01/08) Graham Medley tells BBC Radio 4’s Today programme (from 1:15:35) that a “trade-off” may be needed in the UK, amid a rising number of COVID-19 cases. Graham said: “I think we’re in a situation whereby most people think that opening schools is a priority for the health and wellbeing of children and that when we do that we are going to reconnect lots of households. And so actually, closing some of the other networks may well be required to enable us to open schools.”

(31/07) Neil Pearce discusses the rise in COVID-19 cases across Europe and the implementation of local lockdown measures in the North West on BBC News. Neil said: “This week we have had two crises: the crisis of foreign travel and the crisis of what is happening in the North. What they both have in common is confusion … things keep changing all the time and nobody really knows the rules now. The government needs a plan, not about what it will do this week but about what it will do in the next two to three months.”

(30/07) David Heymann discusses whether COVID-19 cases are headed in a upward trajectory on BBC News. David said: “There is a resurgence of the virus, especially so where people are grouped together in a social situation and let down their guard. This causes a resurgence which can then spread out into the community if trace and track is not done.”

On social media

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