Usher Institute COVID-19 webinars
Join the Usher Institute for our weekly COVID-19 webinars, exploring the global response to the pandemic.
In these unprecedented times we need to rapidly learn about the emerging evidence on COVID-19. This evidence includes not only what is being gathered, analysed and reported by researchers but also evidence relating to the approaches different countries and inter-governmental organisations have taken to respond to the pandemic.
Webinars will be targeted to members of the academic community in the UK and beyond, the public health community in Scotland and further afield, and key decision-makers from a range of sectors.
These webinars are hosted via Zoom webinars, and live streamed to YouTube. Videos are available after the events. See links to register for future events (when available) and view recordings of previous events via YouTube below. Please contact Linda.Bauld@ed.ac.uk, cc Usher.Communications@ed.ac.uk with suggestions for future speakers and topics.
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Webinar 17: Impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minority communities in England and Scotland: What do we know and how can our COVID recovery strategies respond
Title: Impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minority communities in England and Scotland: What do we know and how can our COVID recovery strategies respond
Dr. S Vittal Katikireddi, Senior Clinical Research Fellow & Honorary Consultant in Public Health, MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow
Biography: Vittal Katikireddi is a Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow and an honorary Consultant in Public Health at Public Health Scotland. His research focuses on the social determinants of health and developing the evidence base to reduce health inequalities. He has expertise in social epidemiology (including the analysis of linked administrative datasets), natural experiment methods, evidence synthesis and policy analysis. He is co-chair of the Scottish Government’s Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and ethnicity.
Abstract: Minority ethnic groups are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. However, the mechanisms underpinning this excess risk are complex and not fully understood. This presentation will summarise the available global evidence on ethnic inequalities in COVID-19 risk, illustrating to what extent inequalities exist in relation to infection risk, prognosis and death. An initial framework for thinking about ethnic inequalities in health and an introduction to the Scottish policy response will be presented.
Allan Baker, Deputy Head of Population Health Analysis, Health Improvement Directorate, Public Health England
Emma Pawson, Health Improvement Leader, Public Health England
Abstract: Dispartities and impact of COVID -19
Wednesday 26 August 10:00-11:00 (UK)
Webinar 16: COVID-19 in India: State and national responses, economics considerations and next steps
Title: COVID-19 in India: State and national responses, economic considerations and next steps
Speaker: Dr Rijo John, Senior Fellow Health Economics, Centre for Public Policy Research, Kerala, India
Biography: Dr. John is an economist and public health policy analyst who independently consults for the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the World Health Organization (WHO), New Delhi and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), Washington, DC and few other research institutions in the area of economics of non-communicable diseases. He also teaches at the Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode (IIM-K) as an adjunct faculty. Previously, he was a full-time faculty of economics at the Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur (IIT-J). He has a Masters in Economics from the University of Hyderabad and a PhD in Development Studies from the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), Mumbai. He holds a Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and has held full-time academic positions at the University of Illinois, Chicago and the American Cancer Society, Atlanta, USA.
India with a population of 1.4 billion people was one of the countries where COVID-19 pandemic came relatively late as it reported its very first case only on the 30th of January 2020. The country went into a complete nation-wide lockdown, one of the strictest in any country, on the 25th March, when it had only 700 known cases. However, after a prolonged and multi-phased lockdown that lasted for more than two months and partial relaxations thereafter, the country today stands at number 3 in the world with the total number of reported cases at 1.5 million and growing. The management of the pandemic and its impact varied widely and continues to evolve differently across different states in India. Even as the country is grappling with a surge in the spread of covid-19 in recent times, it is feared that the economic consequences of a prolonged shutdown could be far more devastating than the pandemic itself.
Tuesday 18 August 10:00-11:00 (UK)
Webinar 15: South Africa's response to COVID-19: trajectory of the pandemic and public health measures to address it, including a temporary ban on alcohol sales
Title: South Africa's response to COVID-19: trajectory of the pandemic and public health measures to address it, including a temporary ban on alcohol sales
Associate Professor Cheryl Cohen, in epidemiology at the University of the Witwatersrand
Cheryl Cohen is an Associate Professor in epidemiology at the University of the Witwatersrand and head of the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis. She qualified as a medical doctor at the University of the Witwatersrand and is a Fellow of the College of Pathologists of South Africa in the discipline of Microbiology. She obtained an MSc in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom and a PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand. In her position at the NICD, she works closely with the South African Department of Health to generate evidence to guide policy with regard to the control and management of respiratory diseases. She led the establishment of a national surveillance programme for severe acute respiratory infections in South Africa in 2009 and is the epidemiology lead for national surveillance for pneumonia and invasive bacterial infections causing pneumonia. She heads up a team with an active research agenda in the field of respiratory diseases with a focus on the burden of disease and risk groups for severe illness, as well as assessment of the impact and effectiveness of interventions to reduce respiratory disease burden. She is a member of several national advisory committees as well as several international World Health Organization working groups, mainly related to influenza and other respiratory viruses.
South Africa has a high burden of underlying infectious diseases morbidity with >10% HIV prevalence in the general population and >500,000 new tuberculosis cases diagnosed each year. The first case of COVID-19 in South Africa was confirmed in early March 2020. President Cyril Ramaphosa subsequently declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national disaster on 28 March 2020 and immediately implemented travel restrictions from countries classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as high risk. A nationwide lockdown started on 26 March and was extended to 30 April 2020. On April 23 that the country implemented a risk-adjusted strategy to reopening the economy despite increasing case numbers, moving to level 4 from May 1, and to level 3 from June 1. On 23 June 2020, South Africa had performed >1 million PCR tests and recorded >100,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the number of new cases each day continues to increase. While the lockdown measures appear to have substantially reduced the effective reproductive number, this remains above one, indicating ongoing transmission. Many challenges have been experienced including shortages of laboratory reagents, difficulty implementing physical distancing in poor communities, and a number of institutional and other outbreaks. The lockdown has been suggested to have a negative effect on provision of care for patients with tuberculosis and HIV. In contrast, numbers of cases of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus have remained at unprecedented low levels during the Southern Hemisphere winter. Mathematical modelling has been used to guide the different stages of the public health response. Preliminary data suggest that individuals with underlying HIV and tuberculosis have an increased risk of COVID-19-associated mortality. Detailed cohort studies of COVID-19 burden and transmission and vaccine trials are being conducted.
Professor Charles Parry, Director: Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council
Professor Charles Parry is the director of the Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug Research Unit at the South African Medical Research Council. He is also an extraordinary professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Stellenbosch University. He a registered Clinical and Research Psychologist and was trained in South Africa and the USA in clinical and community psychology and mathematical statistics. He has published 270 indexed journal articles, and co-authored three books on alcohol policy. His current research centres on alcohol and drug epidemiology, burden of disease and policy; alcohol use and HIV/TB treatment; and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Since 2006 he has been a member of the WHO Expert Panel on Drug Dependence and Alcohol Problems and in 2010 was appointed to the board of the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance. Since 2015 he has been a member of the UN Office on Drugs & Crime’s World Drug Report Scientific Advisory Committee and in 2020 joined the International Advisory Board for SPECTRUM. He is a Member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa.
Professor Charles Parry will give an input on South Africa’s 66-day temporary ban on alcohol sales focusing particularly on the reasons for the ban; the effects of the ban and its subsequent lifting on trauma admissions, assaults and non-natural deaths; and responses from government, academics and civil society, before ending with some reflections on whether the ban is likely to be reinstated and its broader impact for future alcohol policy reform in South Africa.
Friday 03 July 10:00-11:00 (UK)
Webinar 14: Addressing COVID-19 in Latin America: How Brazil and Chile are responding to the pandemic
Dr María Elisa Quinteros Cáceres, University of Talca - Chile
Maria Elisa was born in Talca, Chile. She received her Doctorate of Dental Surgery degree from University of Talca, Chile and practiced general dentistry for eight years in a rural area of the region. She also worked as a professor of the Public Health Department for her Alma Mater. María Elisa belongs to the International Society Environmental Epidemiology and participates in the Student and New Researcher Committee and Latin America Committee. She is part of the Society of Chilean Epidemiology and Environmental Poverty Network.
Dr Expedito José de Albuquerque Luna, University of Sao Paulo - Brazil
Dr. Luna is a public health physician, adjunct professor of epidemiology at the Institute of Tropical Medicine of the University of Sao Paulo. He previously worked as the National Director of Communicable Diseases Surveillance in the MOH in Brazil (2003-2007). Professor Luna’s current research is on epidemiology and surveillance of communicable diseases and vaccine trials, including influenza, Zika and Dengue fever.
Title: Addressing COVID-19 in Latin America: How Brazil and Chile are responding to the pandemic
Friday 26 June 14:00-15:00 (UK)
Webinar 13: COVID-19 and obesity: risks, realities and research needs
Speaker: Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine/Honorary Consultant (Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences), University of Glasgow
Biography: Interests in Cardiometabolic Disease and obesity with wealth of clinical, epidemiological, biomarker and trial experience. Published over 900 papers, >100K citations google scholar, multiple awards. Associate Editor circulation. Tries to keep personal metabolic risks at bay with frequent dog walks, cycling and football.
Title: COVID-19 and obesity: risks, realities and research needs
Friday 19 June 10:00-11:00 (UK)
Webinar 12: New Zealand's elimination strategy for the COVID-19 pandemic: early success but uncertainties and risks remain
Speaker: Michael Baker, Professor of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
Biography: Michael has a wide range of public health research interests, with a particular focus on environmental health, infectious diseases, and housing. He has published more than 250 peer-reviewed papers on these topics. In 2013 Michael was awarded the HRC Liley Medal for his contribution to the health and medical sciences. In 2014 he was a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Science Prize as a member of He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme. In 2015 he was the NZ-UK Link Foundation Visiting Professor at the School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London.
Title: New Zealand's elimination strategy for the COVID-19 pandemic: early success but uncertainties and risks remain
Thursday 11 June 09:00-10:00 (UK)
Webinar 11: ISARIC and COVID-19: The International Severe Acute Respiratory and emerging Infection Consortium's work to accelerate outbreak research and response
Speaker: Calum Semple, Professor of Child Health and Outbreak Medicine, University of Liverpool
Biography: Professor Calum Semple came to University of Liverpool in 1999 after training in London and Oxford. His doctoral research was in clinical virology and funded by an MRC - Burroughs Wellcome Industrial Fellowship. He was converted to paediatrics by inspiring clinical teachers at Oxford and later persuaded to sub-specialise with the renowned respiratory team at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
An NIHR National Clinician Scientist Award in 2002 allowed Calum to develop his principal research interest in bronchiolitis and influenza, the two most important causes of Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) in children and adults. He was jointly appointed Senior Clinical Lecturer in Child Health at University of Liverpool with tenure and Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in 2006. His personal chair in Child Health and Outbreak Medicine was awarded in December 2017. He is Chief Investigator for BESS, FLU-CATs, WHO ISARIC Clinical Characterisation Protocol UK, and Convalescent Plasma for Ebola Virus Disease in Sierra Leone "Ebola_CP" and BESS. BESS - the Bronchiolitis Endotracheal Surfactant Study in a multinational randomised controlled trial of Endotracheal Surfactant administered to infants with life-threatening Bronchiolitis funded by the NIHR EME programme.
He is co-investigator on ARCHIE (2014-) and Emergency Evaluation of Convalescent Plasma for Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) in Guinea "Ebola-Tx" (2014-17). Calum was a co-investigator on the FLU-CIN and MOSAIC studies that characterized in near real-time the clinical and immunological response to Influenza A/H1N1pdm2009 infection during the pandemic. Calum is the Senior Clinical Editor of the journal Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses. He is a member of NERVTAG is an expert committee of the Department of Health (DH), that advises the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and, through the CMO, ministers, DH and other Government departments on New and Emerging Respiratory Viral Threats. Calum provides a tertiary paediatric respiratory outpatient clinic and runs the regional paediatric bronchoscopy service with Professor Kevin Southern and colleagues at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
Title: ISARIC and COVID-19: The International Severe Acute Respiratory and emerging Infection Consortium's work to accelerate outbreak research and response
Friday 5 June 10:00 - 11:00 (UK)
Webinar 10: Addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy: current approaches and next steps
Speaker: Stefania Boccia, Professor of Hygiene, Preventive Medicine and Public Health at UCSC in Rome
Stefania Boccia is Full professor of Hygiene, Preventive Medicine and Public Health at UCSC in Rome.
She obtained a Master of Science in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and a PhD in Genetic Epidemiology at the Erasmus MC, Rotterdam. She is the Director of the Section of Hygiene of the Department of Health Science and Public Health of UCSC and President of the Public Health Epidemiology Section of EuropeanPublic Health Associations (EUPHA).
From 2016 -to 2018 she was Adjunct Professor at the Mount Sinai Medical School, New York.
In 2018 she founded the spin-off “Vihtali srl” (Value In Health Technology and Academy for Leadership & Innovation) at UCSC.
She currently coordinates the project titled “European network staff eXchange for integrAting precision health in the health Care sysTems” (ExACT) funded by the European Commssion (EC) within the H2020 Marie-Slodowska Curie projects (MSCA-RISE).
Title: Addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy: current approaches and next steps
Abstract: In the coronavirusdisease2019(COVID-19) pandemic, Italy has been hit very hard,1 with 219.070 documented cases and 30560 documented deaths related to severe acute respiratory syndromecoronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection as of May 10, 2020. The number of cases and d
eaths cannot be explained simply because of the epidemic starting in Italy earlier compared with other countries besides China. It is important to understand why death rates were so high in Italy to learn how to best prepare and how to plan for optimal actions in other countries. While some contributing factors may be immutable (eg, age structure of the population), some other contributing factors are potentially modifiable.
Wednesday 27 May 10:00 - 11:00 (UK)
Webinar 9: COVID-19 and Tobacco: Integrating communicable and non-communicable disease responses
In collaboration with the following programmes: the SPECTRUM Consortium; the Tobacco Control Capacity Programme (TCCP); Addressing Smokeless Tobacco and building Research Capacity in South Asia (ASTRA); and Stopping Tobacco Organisations and Products (STOP).
- Dr Lion Shahab - University College London, UK
- Professor Kamran Siddiqi - University of York, UK
- Dr Monika Arora - Public Health Foundation of India
- Dr Tom Hird - University of Bath, UK
Chair: Professor Linda Bauld, Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh
- Introduction - Linda Bauld
- The association between Covid-19 and smoking - Lion Shahab
- Cessation and Covid-19 - Kamran Siddiqi
- Need to strengthen tobacco control policies in the time of Covid-19 and LMIC perspective - Monika Arora
- Tobacco industry influence extending via Covid19 - Tom Hird
Thursday 21 May 10:00 - 11:00 (UK)
Webinar 8: Addressing COVID-19 in Vietnam: Progress to date and future priorities
Dr Pham Quang Thai, Vice Head of Epidemiology Dept., National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE), Vietnam
Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading globally. Vietnam’s strict containment measures have, to date, significantly reduced the spread of the virus. This presentation will aim to summarise the activities to address COVID-19 in Vietnam including the use of emergency control measures such as surveillance, contact tracing and quarantine and others. In addition, the importance of integrating resources from multiple systems across the country, including health, mass media, transportation, education, public affairs, defense and others will be described. In order to better understand how Vietnam has managed to reduce the public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, this presentation will review in detail specific measures for the prevention and control of the COVID-19 that could be replicated in other countries.
Wednesday 13 May 09:00-10:00 (UK)
Webinar 7: Initial Response to COVID-19: How did Eastern Europe get it right?
Professor Igor Rudan, International Health and Molecular Medicine, The University of Edinburgh
Abstract: In late January I started writing a popular science series "The Quarantine of Wuhan" for about 30,000 followers on Facebook. I intended to address various aspects of the crisis as they were emerging. I tried to provide explanations in a way that would be easy to understand to very large crowds. I did this under the influence of the late professor Andrija Stampar, a 20th-century pioneer of international public health, who was also a Croatian. This giant of preventive medicine taught us that, in the fight against infectious diseases, “finding ways to inform population is more important than passing any laws” and that “a good epidemiologist and physician must be a teacher of the nation”. Croatia is also home to the world's first quarantine, introduced by the city of Dubrovnik in 1377. My series was soon commissioned by Croatia's leading newspaper, “Vecernji list”. The interest in the series became intense in six countries of the former Yugoslavia. As a result, my regular columns and short videos with key messages were spread through social networks. They gradually gained an audience of up to 3 million people. From early March I became the key government adviser for COVID-19 response for Croatia and remained heavily involved in the planning of the quarantine measures, hospital care, protection of retirement homes, and planning the exit.
Thursday 7 May 14:00-15:00 (UK)
Webinar 6: COVID-19 in Africa: A multidimensional crisis: Strategies & challenges in mitigation for LMICs
Dr Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, Former Chief Humanitarian Coordinator, Nigeria; Global Advisory Board Member, WomenLift Health
in conversation with Professor Liz Grant, Director of the Global Health Academy and Assistant Principal for Global Health, University of Edinburgh
Thursday 30 April 13:00-14:00 (UK)
Webinar 5: Test, track, isolate, and treat in South Korea: planning for the next round?
Professor Jerome Kim Director General, International Vaccine Institute, Seoul, South Korea
Abstract: On 18 February 2020, S. Korea uncovered a large outbreak of COVID-19 infection associated with a large church in the city of Daegu and the adjacent North Gyeongsang province. Implementing lessons learned during the MERS outbreak of 2020, the government established a Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures HQ, headed by the Prime Minister after the alert level was raised to its highest level. The head of the Korea Center for Disease Control is the deputy and coordinates with local governments. There was no lockdown. Decisions were driven by data and were made promptly and explained transparently. Messaging was consistent and clear. The government made use of special authority during such emergencies and counted on the voluntary cooperation of the Korean population. The key elements were training, testing, isolating, tracking and treating. Training, or pandemic preparation had been ongoing, and in December 2019 a tabletop exercise described the government’s response to an unknown pathogen from China brought back to Korea by a Korean couple. Testing was accomplished by the early and decisive availability of RT-PCR test kits and the deployment of drive through test centers (later also telephone booth test centers) that allowed Koreans to gain access to free testing for suspected COVID-19 illness. The government isolated infected persons and also kept track of persons who might have been exposed, requiring quarantine in those cases. A system to notify the public was available so that anonymized information regarding potential exposure locations was disclosed when available. Tracking teams used mobile and credit card information to further document the potential exposures, and treatment of infected patients was emphasized, with attention given to areas of the greatest disease burden. By the 29th of February infections had peaked and started to decrease steadily, dropping below 100 per day in mid March. By the middle of April these were consistently below 50 per day, and on 20 April the government issued guidelines for the partial lifting of restrictions, changing them from “strong advisory” to “restrain operations” for churches, after school study centers, bars and gyms. Hygiene is still emphasized. The outcome of this experience is still unknown.
Friday 24 April 09:00-10:00 (UK)
Webinar 4: Public health measures to slow the community spread of COVID-19 in Hong Kong
Professor Ben Cowling Head of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong
Abstract: Hong Kong shares a land border with mainland China and is well prepared to be on the frontline of emerging infectious diseases in the region. Since the emergence of COVID-19, Hong Kong has implemented a number of public health measures including border restrictions, quarantine and isolation, social distancing. These measures together with changes in population behaviour have successfully suppressed the community spread of COVID-19 to date. The social distancing measures and behavioural changes also led to a substantial reduction in influenza transmission in early February 2020. In this talk, Ben Cowling will provide an overview of the public health response to COVID-19 in Hong Kong and discuss the impact and sustainability of these measures.
Friday 17 April 10:00-11:00 (UK)
Webinar 3: Canada's approach to addressing COVID-19
Professor Steven Hoffman Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Population & Public Health, Canada
Abstract: Having learned harsh lessons from the 2003 SARS outbreak, Canada’s government was an early actor to the COVID-19 pandemic, funding peer-reviewed research less than a month after the declaration of COVID-19 as a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020, with much of the country committing to physical distancing measures with less than 1000 cases confirmed nationally. In this talk, Steven Hoffman will provide a timeline of COVID-19 in Canada, detail Canada’s response and discuss what’s next in our efforts to address COVID-19.
Thursday 9 April 14:00-15:00 (UK)
Webinar 2: Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19: Practical lessons and insights from experiences in China
Professor Tingbo Liang Chairman of the First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of medicine, China
Abstract: The COVID-19 epidemic has been well controlled in China since its outbreak, but there is a need for all medical workers in the world to share information to address it. As a provincial treatment center for COVID-19, we developed hospital adaptive coping strategies for the virus based on different stages of the epidemic. To document our experience and rapidly share best practice, we wrote a handbook which has now been translated into multiple languages and can be downloaded from http://www.zy91.com/ywsy.jhtml and covid-19.alibabacloud.com.
Thursday 2 April 09:00-10:00 (UK)
Webinar 1: A systems-level approach to COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore
Professor Yik Ying Teo Dean, Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, Singapore
Abstract: Singapore has been amongst the first few countries to see the importation and subsequent local transmission of COVID-19. The outbreak is ongoing since the first case arrived on 23 January. I will share the multi-prong measures Singapore has put in place that goes beyond simply a health-sector response, and also discuss some of the challenges ahead.
Friday 27 March 09:00-10:00 (UK)
Edinburgh Infectious Diseases webinars
Edinburgh Infectious Diseases have begun a series of webinars focussing on the response to Covid-19 by academics and clinicians in Edinburgh.
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