COVID-19: academics mobilise to provide critical advice and expert comment – UCL

As coronavirus spreads around the world, UCL experts are taking a prominent role in advancing public knowledge about the virus by advising world leaders, providing expert comment in the media and urgently researching new ways of tackling COVID-19.

A key strength of the UCL community is its ability to work across disciplines and with colleagues, partners and industry to help address the biggest challenges facing the world today.

UCL researchers are working in the vanguard of helping find cure, improving diagnosis and are advising Government here in the UK and globally. In addition, they are helping to inform public knowledge by providing expert comment on issues as varied as predictions on virus spread, panic buying and stockpiling, broadband provision, and the economic and political impact of the pandemic.

Professor Judith Breuer (UCL Division of Infection & Immunity) is advising the Government on the use of viral genomics to help control the outbreak, and Professor Susan Michie (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences) is advising the UK government-convened advisory group, the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behavioural Science (SPI-B): 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID19).

Professor Rachel McKendry (London Centre for Nanotechnology at UCL and i-sense) and Professor Ingemar Cox (UCL Computer Science) are leading a team developing rapid tests and tracking systems for COVID-19 in collaboration with the World Health Organization, Public Health England and Africa CDC, while Professor Martina Micheletti (UCL Biochemical Engineering) is working with Oxford colleagues to develop a potential vaccine.

Others at UCL are working on monitoring people who have been tested, predicting the outbreak’s future, and developing digital platforms for community-based care.

Here in UCL in the Media, we feature the work of UCL colleagues who are providing critical advice and expert comment to world leaders and the public on COVID-19 and its impact through numerous appearances on TV, radio, print and online news sources:

  • Overproduction of ventilators due to government preparing for the worst Professor Mervyn Singer (UCL Medicine) explains that whilst it’s easy to see the UK overestimated the amount of ventilators needed to tackle Covid-19, “Governments had to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” (27 April 2020)
  • Vaccination uptake may decline during Covid-19 lockdown There are concerns that routine immunisations for infections such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough are being missed due to the Covid-19 lockdown, explains Professor Helen Bedford (UCL GOS Institute of Child Health). (27 April 2020)
  • Extended lockdown could severely damage economy Visiting Professor Paul Johnson (UCL Economics) says that an extended lockdown due to Covid-19 could seriously impact the economy and that increased unemployment would have knock-on effects for people’s health and wellbeing. (27 April 2020)
  • What did Germany do differently to the UK on Covid-19? Professor Dame Anne Johnson (UCL Infection & Immunity) explains that as Germany is testing more people for Covid-19 they are identifying milder cases than in the UK, and as such their fatality rate per case of the virus looks lower. (27 April 2020)
  • How is Putin handling the Covid-19 pandemic? Putin has deputised much of the response to Covid-19 within Russia as “He doesn’t want to be in leadership when he thinks it can backfire on him.” Explains Dr Ben Noble (UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies). (27 April 2020)
  • How do we ease the Covid-19 lockdown? Professor Susan Michie (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences) discusses the reasoning behind the current lockdown, as well as how we might safely transition out of it once cases of Covid-19 subside. (27 April 2020)
  • Promoting good hygiene in schools is an important post-lockdown strategy Professor Susan Michie (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences) comments that the UK government must do more to promote good hygiene in schools. (27 April 2020)
  • Public not to blame for ministers’ mixed messages on Covid-19 Professor Susan Michie (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences) explains the confusion that can happen if UK government ministers give mixed messages to the public about staying at home. (27 April 2020)
  • Government assistance needs to be goal oriented Professor Mariana Marcuzzo (UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose) comments on government assistance following the pandemic and calls for a ‘reset’ in how economies work, detailing how the government can help businesses and households. (27 April 2020)
  • Overproduction of ventilators due to government preparing for the worst Professor Mervyn Singer (UCL Medicine) explains that whilst it’s easy to see the UK overestimated the amount of ventilators needed to tackle Covid-19, “Governments had to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” (27 April 2020)
  • Vaccination uptake may decline during Covid-19 lockdown There are concerns that routine immunisations for infections such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough are being missed due to the Covid-19 lockdown, explains Professor Helen Bedford (UCL GOS Institute of Child Health). (27 April 2020)
  • Extended lockdown could severely damage economy Visiting Professor Paul Johnson (UCL Economics) says that an extended lockdown due to Covid-19 could seriously impact the economy and that increased unemployment would have knock-on effects for people’s health and wellbeing. (27 April 2020)
  • What did Germany do differently to the UK on Covid-19? Professor Dame Anne Johnson (UCL Infection & Immunity) explains that as Germany is testing more people for Covid-19 they are identifying milder cases than in the UK, and as such their fatality rate per case of the virus looks lower. (27 April 2020)
  • How is Putin handling the Covid-19 pandemic? Putin has deputised much of the response to Covid-19 within Russia as “He doesn’t want to be in leadership when he thinks it can backfire on him.” Explains Dr Ben Noble (UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies). (27 April 2020)
  • How do we ease the Covid-19 lockdown? Professor Susan Michie (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences) discusses the reasoning behind the current lockdown, as well as how we might safely transition out of it once cases of Covid-19 subside. (27 April 2020)
  • Promoting good hygiene in schools is an important post-lockdown strategy Professor Susan Michie (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences) comments that the UK government must do more to promote good hygiene in schools. (27 April 2020)
  • Public not to blame for ministers’ mixed messages on Covid-19 Professor Susan Michie (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences) explains the confusion that can happen if UK government ministers give mixed messages to the public about staying at home. (27 April 2020)
  • Government assistance needs to be goal oriented Professor Mariana Marcuzzo (UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose) comments on government assistance following the pandemic and calls for a ‘reset’ in how economies work, detailing how the government can help businesses and households. (27 April 2020)
  • The parallels between HIV and Covid-19 Professor Dame Anne Johnson (UCL Global Health) discusses the parallels and differences between the response to HIV and Covid-19, before saying “we all have to work together to decide what are the best responses,” to the Covid-19 pandemic. (24 April 2020)

Content retrieved from: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2020/apr/covid-19-ucl-academics-mobilise-provide-critical-advice-and-expert-comment.

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