20 – 26 August

A snapshot of media coverage on COVID-19

Beate Kampmann

(24/08) Beate comments on President Trump’s decision to fast track the approval of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine on BBC News. Beate said: “What’s disconcerting is the political point-scoring in the development of vaccines … if we’re cutting corners, we are putting populations at risk instead of helping them.”

(24/08) Beate discusses the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients on BBC News. Beate said: “The data from the plasma trials are still somewhat preliminary and what needs to be made very clear is that this therapy has been applied to people in the extremes of COVID-19. So it’s not a treatment that has been given to an awful lot of people who might have just come down with milder symptoms.”

Heidi Larson

(24/08) In the The Sydney Morning Herald, Heidi says it’s vital to highlight that quick and safe COVD-19 vaccine development is possible through tech improvement and research, and that a ‘no jab, no play’ policyis one of the quickest ways to lose the confidence of the public.”

(20/08) Heidi discusses rising vaccine hesitancy during COVID-19, in the LA Times. Heidi said: “My researchers have found Facebook groups which have nothing to do with vaccinations suddenly widely sharing misinformation about them. There is a lot of anger and emotion in the world right now, and the debate around vaccines has been an opportunity for that to bubble up.”

Martin McKee

(24/08) Martin talks to Euronews about the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the South of France. Martin said: “This is a very dangerous virus and it’s still circulating at levels that are far too high. It is very unfortunate that we seem to be forgetting the lessons that we learned when the restrictions came in which have been remarkably successful in getting the rates down.”

(23/08) Martin tells BBC News that reopening schools in England must be a top priority. Martin said: “We need a system where no child is left behind. This is about educating children and helping their social development, not just putting them somewhere to allow people to get back to work.”

(23/08) Martin highlights the importance of lowering infection rates before the reopening of schools on LBC. Martin said: “If there’s very little virus circulating in the population then the chances of somebody [with COVID-19] coming into the classroom is also very low, and that’s what it is crucially important.”

Graham Medley

(24/08) Graham warns of a potential spike in cases as more of the UK opens up, in CNN. Graham said: “If we go back to the same level of contact that we had in March then we will go back to the same level of epidemic growth.”

(21/08) Graham tells The Guardian that definition revisions are common practice during a novel outbreak. Graham said: “When you start a new epidemic and you don’t know what the disease is, you have a very inclusive and encompassing definition which gets refined as time goes on.”

(21/08) On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme (from 2:08:30), Graham highlights that the early definition of a hospital admission for COVID-19 was important to prevent undercounting, and that the need for a change in definition only became relevant as the months went on. Graham said: “Early in the epidemic, most of the people who were infected will by necessity have been infected recently. By the time you get to June, then there are people coming back in with a twisted knee who tested positive in March, and that clearly is unrelated to COVID-19.”

Stephen Evans

(24/08) Stephen comments on the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients in the Daily Mail. Stephen said: “This study from the Mayo Clinic is indicative of efficacy of convalescent plasma, but as the authors make clear, it is only a suggestion. It does seem to suggest that there are no major issues of safety.”

(24/08) Stephen discusses whether blood pressure drugs could improve COVID-19 prognosis in inews. Stephen said: “We do not yet understand how the SARS COV-2 virus is affected by these drugs, so caution should definitely be exercised before recommending their use for prevention of bad outcomes in Covid-19.”

James Logan

(20/08) James highlights the potential for dogs to detect COVID-19 in a new trial, on ITV News. James said: “The great thing about dogs is that they’re able to not only smell much better than we can, but learn smells as well.”

(20/09) James discusses the latest recruitment efforts for the bio-detection dog trial on BBC News. James said: “What we’re doing at the moment is we’re collecting samples from members of the public and NHS staff as well, and we’re asking them to wear socks, a s-shirt and a facemask. At the moment, we’re actually recruiting and looking for people with symptoms of COVID-19 to get in touch with us and volunteer for our study.”

Other LSHTM experts

(25/08) Peter Piot tells SciDev why the UK’s research and innovation expertise have never been so important. Peter said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the need for mutual learning and international partnerships on a larger scale. As a global community, no country is safe until every country is safe. We have to take a long-term view to sustain the hard-won gains in global health and development.”

(25/08) Pauline Paterson outlines the results of a recent COVID-19 vaccine confidence survey on BBC Radio 5 Live (from 12:53). Pauline said: “Of the 10% who weren’t willing to take a vaccine, there were concerns about safety, concerns about it being a new vaccine, being rushed, and not having enough evidence.”

(25/08) Brendan Wren comments on the first reported case of COVID-19 reinfection, in The Guardian. Brendan said: “With over 3m cases of Covid-19 worldwide, the first reported case of a potential re-infection with Covid-19 needs to be taken into context … This is a very rare example of reinfection, and it should not negate the global drive to develop COVID-19 vaccines.”

(25/08) Adam Kucharski tells Channel 4 Dispatches that an effective track and trace system is essential to preventing a second COVID-19 wave. Adam said: “One thing that stands out is the speed and effectiveness you need for track and trace. As soon as someone shows up with symptoms, the clock is really ticking because they have already potentially infected others. Every little delay in that system has a really big impact on its effectiveness.”

(25/08) Sunil Bhopal comments on the role of children in COVID-19 transmission for NBC. Sunil said: “At this stage of the pandemic, COVID appears to be less dangerous for children than influenza. We don’t need to wait for a whole season because, even at its peak in most countries, COVID killed a smaller number of children than estimated influenza deaths averaged from across a year,”

(24/08) Quentin Leclerc tells Huffington Post that rather than focusing on the type of venue where COVID-19 spreads, we should focus on the environmental conditions that fuel transmission. Quentin said: “What’s interesting is to say this is where we see super-spreading events, these are the characteristics of the settings, so these are the factors that facilitate super-spreading events, not the settings.”

(24/08) Jimmy Whitworth outlines the risks of schools reopening on Bloomberg. Jimmy said: “It’s important to get children back to school. It seems pretty clear that for primary school children at least, the risks of them getting the virus and passing it on to others is very low. Where the worries are, are the adults associated with the schools – the teachers, administrative staff and parents. This congregation of people from different households poses a risk.”

(21/08) Mishal Khan talks to BBC News about how lockdown measures have been received in Pakistan, amid declining numbers of cases. Mishal said: “There are signs of greater awareness in Pakistani society but that isn’t likely to be the whole picture.”

Further LSHTM coverage

(25/08) On BBC News (from 21:33), Beate Kampmann outlines the progress made against vaccine-preventable diseases, amid the WHO declaring Africa free of wild polio. Beate said: “Vaccines have saved more lives in public health in the last 25 years than any other intervention apart from clean water.”

(24/08) Rebecca French discusses the myths, benefits and side effects of the contraceptive pill on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour (from 01:29). Rebecca said: “We know if the pill is taken correctly and consistently, less than 1% of women will get pregnant within a year’s use. But with typical use – and that’s with people maybe forgetting to take pills – this can increase to 8-9% of women, and some studies have shown that young people find it harder to remember when to take the pill.”

On social media

This week’s social media highlight comes from Twitter, where we celebrated World Mosquito Day by announcing major funding for a new study into whether malaria is a risk factor for COVID-19.


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