13 – 19 August

A snapshot of media coverage on COVID-19

Heidi Larson

(18/08) Heidi emphasises the importance of active listening to tackle vaccine hesitancy on BBC Radio 4 (from 18:41). Heidi said: “We cannot dismiss any questions because vaccines do have risks and we need to be honest about that … Every parent or individual who wants to ask a question should be respected … Over the years people have told me that they were never against vaccines but when they started asking questions, their questions were dismissed as being stupid. They lost trust.”

(16/08) Heidi cautions in Bloomberg that Russia’s accelerated COVID-19 vaccine could impact trust in a safer vaccine that comes later. Heidi said: “We have one chance to make a first impression. If Russia’s short-cuts in the rush for a vaccine lead to an unnecessary adverse event, it may erode already fragile confidence.”

John Edmunds

(18/09) John speaks to The Sun about claims that parts of London and New York could have ‘coronavirus herd immunity’. John said: “There is a much more direct and reliable way to estimate the levels of immunity in populations. That is by taking a representative sample of the population and testing for specific antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in their blood.”

(17/08) John explains that a seven-day testing regime could cut the number of infectious people re-entering the community by 94% in The Guardian. John said: “It is relatively safe to reduce quarantine periods if they are combined with a test before release. However, the period of quarantine still needs to be of the order of seven days or more and the test should be done at the end of this period. Testing at the airport is fairly ineffectual.”

(17/08) John tells the Huffington Post that social distancing restrictions will be in place until there’s high enough levels of immunity in the population for this to be unnecessary. John said: “We will remain with some social distance measures in place until a safe and effective vaccine is found, mass-produced and delivered to the population.”

(15/08) In the Daily Mirror, John comments on recent figures revealing the number of patients infected with COVID-19 in hospitals. John said: “The six per cent figure is almost certainly an underestimate.”

(13/08) John discusses the further easing of lockdown measures in England, on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme (from 1:21:32). John said: “Nothing has really changed over the last couple of weeks … but you have to balance the epidemiology with the economics.”

James Logan

(17/08) James highlights the importance of keeping fit during COVID-19, in The Telegraph (£). James said: “The world was much less prepared for a pandemic than we thought. Because COVID-19 seems to affect people who are unhealthy, now more than ever, we need to look after our everyday health.”

(17/08) James discusses a trial to see if dogs can detect COVID-19 on BBC World Service (from 18:41). James said: “It’s scientifically proven that diseases change our body odour. We do know from anecdotal evidence that there seems to be a ‘COVID smell’ … if it does, the dogs will be able to detect it with high accuracy.”

Other LSHTM experts

(19/08) Stephen Evans comments on the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine in South China Morning Post. Stephen said: “Risks because of quick development would be almost entirely related to the numbers included in a trial. What is required is sufficient numbers, both to show efficacy in preventing disease and in showing no serious harm.”

(19/08) Liam Smeeth highlights the need for a ‘swift, no-blame’ inquiry into COVID-19 mistakes in The Times. Liam said: “We need a rapid inquiry where people provide full, open, honest evidence, without fear of retribution. The only way to do this is to put issues of culpability temporarily to one side — and to act now.”

(19/08) Michael Marks speaks to NPR about COVID-19 complications. Michael said: “You could have permanent damage to the lungs from the infection, and that will cause you to be fatigued.”

(18/08) Beate Kampmann discusses the logistical hurdles around manufacturing and distributing potential COVID-19 vaccines in The Telegraph (£). Beate said: “They might have their phase three results but that’s all that can be said. I think, to use the word ‘ready’, is actually misleading.”

(13/08) Helena Legido-Quigley discusses the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Spain, in The AA. Helena said: “Spain needs to start preparing as if it already were in a second wave.”

Further LSHTM coverage

(19/08) Stephen Evans speaks to the Daily Mail about a new study that suggests that antibiotics may make the contraceptive pill less effective. Stephen said: “There are good reasons why antibiotics could reduce efficacy of some hormonal contraceptives. The problem is that these data neither provide good evidence that the disproportionate reporting is a causal effect, nor do they indicate the magnitude of the potential problem. With 46 unintended pregnancies reported over 55 years, even with under-reporting, it may not be a serious public-health problem.”

On social media

This week’s social media highlight comes from Twitter, where we published our latest Viral podcast episode with researchers from The MRC Unit The Gambia, Melisa Martinez-Alvarez and Lamin Leigh.


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