Usher Institute

Usher Institute COVID-19 webinars

Watch again - links to videos of our full COVID-19 webinar series through 2020, exploring the global response to the pandemic.

Usher institute coronavirus webinar

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.

We were delighted to run a series of webinars though 2020, 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.

Webinar series organisers: Professor Linda Bauld, Bruce and John Usher Chair of Public Health, Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh, and Professor Aziz Sheikh, Director of the Usher Institute.

Videos of the webinars are available on YouTube.

Our sincere thanks to all presenters and those who have contributed to this important series of webinars which have helped share key information from around the globe on the pandemic response.

Our COVID-19 webinars

Webinar 24: Addressing COVID-19 in Pakistan and Bangladesh: Public health interventions, policy response and new research findings

Title: Addressing COVID-19 in Pakistan and Bangladesh: Public health interventions, policy response and new research findings


Mr Raaj Kishore Biswas, Transport and Road Safety (TARS) Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney 

Raaj Kishore Biswas, statistician by training, is a PhD scholar at the Transport and Road Safety (TARS) Research Centre in University of New South Wales, Sydney. His areas of expertise includes biostatistics and public health policies, as well as environmental statistics, behavioural analysis, and spatial techniques. His current research focuses on the risk associated with everyday driving in Australia and big data analytics in road safety. He regularly collaborates with colleagues worldwide to conduct research on health care systems and service accessibility in developing countries, including recently co-authoring an article assessing Covid-19 preparedness in Bangladesh. His details can be found here:

Dr. Naeem Shahzad, Head of the department of Disater Management, National University of Sciences and Technology

Dr. Naeem Shahzad is Head of the Department of Disaster Management at National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) in Pakistan. He is an expert in disaster management, climate change, the environment, and sustainable development.  His current focus of research is on climate change and disaster risk reduction. Dr Shahzad has a PhD in Environmental Engineering and a Post Graduate Certification in Disaster Management. Presently he is serving as . He has been involved with the Department of Disaster Management since its inception and launch in 2012, and his University is pioneer in establishing such as program in Pakistan. He has authored numerous articles in peer reviewed journals including most recently on Covid-19 in Pakistan and the effects of regional climatic conditions on the spread of Covid-19 globally.  He has presented his research at international conferences in Pakistan and a range of other countries as well as working with inter-governmental organisations such as the United Nations. 

Wednesday 16 December 09:00-10:00 (UK)

Webinar 23: Taiwan's experience in the response to COVID-19

Title: Taiwan's experience in the response to COVID-19


Dr Sheng-Fang Su, Assistant Professor in the Graduate Institute of Oncology, College of Medicine, National University of Taiwan ​​​​​​

Dr. Su received her M.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology from Georgetown University and her Ph.D. in genetic, molecular and cellular biology from the University of Southern California. She joined the research team in the Institute of Statistical Science at Academia Sinica, Taiwan in 2013 as a postdoctoral fellow and established the epigenomics laboratory for the studies from epigenome-wide to specific methylated DNA identification; from bench work to clinical relevance. She is currently an assistant professor of the Graduate Institute of Oncology in the National Taiwan University College of Medicine and serves as YongLin Scholar in the Institute of Health, National Taiwan University. Her research interests focus on the cancer epigenomics- the studies of tumor microenvironment and liquid biopsy application for cancer diagnosis and prognosis with an extension to genome, epigenome, transcriptome, and proteome analysis. ​​​​

Dr Yueh-Ying Han, Research Associate Professor of Pediatrics at University of Pittsburgh ​​​

Dr. Han is a Research Associate Professor of the Department of Pediatrics at University of Pittsburgh assigned to the Division of Pulmonology. Dr. Han is funded as a Co-Investigator and serves as an epidemiologist on NIH-funded grants. Her training in epidemiology and advanced analytical skills have contributed to several asthma studies.

Dr Han’s research interest is to understand pathogenesis of asthma due to interaction between host and environment, with a particular focus on diet, obesity, and psychosocial stress. As an epidemiologist, Dr. Han collaborates with physician-scientists on several research projects, and leads a series of studies using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the U.S.  Her exceptional knowledge of national health survey data and skills in epidemiologic methods has led to high-quality publications on asthma research and provided pilot data for grant proposals.

Dr. Han is enthusiastic to build on her strong analytical expertise to enhance collaborative epidemiologic studies that aim to improve awareness and reduce the burden of asthma.

Wednesday 02 December 13:00-14:00 (UK)

Webinar 22: COVID-19 in Uruguay: Addressing the challenges of the pandemic through a coordinated public health response

Title: COVID-19 in Uruguay: Addressing the challenges of the pandemic through a coordinated public health response

Speaker: Dr Henry Albornoz da Silva, Department of Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, University of the Republic, Montevideo, Uruguay 

Tuesday 17 November  14:00-15:00

Watch this webinar again (You Tube recording) 

Thanks to Dr Thomas Bak for live interpretation and Cecilia Prieto Bravo for help with translation of closed captions for the pre-recorded video (in Spanish audio).

Dr Albornoz da Silva's pre-recorded presentation that was shown during this webinar can be viewed directly here: Pre-recorded presentation from Dr Albornoz da Silva as shown during webinar, available directly on YouTube

There is also a longer version of the presentation, including some very interesting background to the health system and some relevant pre-COVID initiatives in Uruguay which is well worth watching available here: Longer version of Dr Albornoz da Silva's presentation with additional background also available on YouTube

Webinar 21: ISARIC-4C Lessons from 82,000 in-hospital patients with COVID-19

Title: ISARIC-4C: Lessons from 82,000 in-hospital patients with COVID-19


Professor Ewen Harrison, Professor of Surgery and Data Science, Director of Centre for Medical Informatics, University of Edinburgh and Consultant HPB Surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

Ewen is Director of the Centre for Medical Informatics within the Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh and a Consultant Surgeon. His data-driven research focuses on improving patient outcomes after surgery. Interests include machine learning, crowd-sourcing patient-level data, surgical trials, mobile data collection platforms and “wearables”, decision modelling and patient-reported outcomes.

Dr Annemarie Docherty, Wellcome Clinical Research Career Development Fellowship, Usher Institute, The University of Edinburgh 

Annemarie is a Wellcome fellow and Consultant in Critical Care. She is interested in identifying differential risk in heterogeneous populations, and since the arrival of covid-19 in the UK she has been leading the data analysis along with Professor Ewen Harrison for ISARIC-4C CCP-UK. This observational study has recruited approximately two thirds of patients of all ages admitted to hospital in the UK with covid-19, and has been used to understand the epidemiology of covid-19, and inform government bodies in near-real time.

Webinar 20: Spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the Icelandic population and the public health response

Title: Spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the Icelandic population and the public health response

Speaker:  Dr. StefanssonFounder and CEO of deCODE genetics, Iceland


Kári Stefánsson, M.D., Dr. Med. is founder and CEO of Reykjavik-based deCODE genetics. In Iceland he has pioneered the use of population-scale genetics to understand variation in the sequence of the human genome. His work, published in more than 600 scientific papers, has focused on how genomic diversity is generated and on the discovery of sequence variants impacting susceptibility to common diseases. The population approach he has advanced in Iceland has served as the model for national genome projects around the world and contributed to the realization of several aspects of precision medicine, including to the discovery and development of therapeutic targets and compounds for Amgen. Prior to founding deCODE in 1996 he was professor of neurology, neuropathology and neuroscience at Harvard and had previously held faculty positions in neurology, neuropathology and neurosciences at the University of Chicago, from 1983-1993.

Dr. Stefansson has received some of the highest honors in biomedical research and genetics, including the including the Sackler Lecture at MIT, the European Society of Human Genetics Award, the Anders Jahre Award, the American Alzheimer’s Association’s Inge Grundke-Iqbal Award, the Federation of European Biomedical Societies’ Sir Hans Krebs Medal, and the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) William Allan Award. His work has been recognized by major international publications and bodies including Time, Newsweek, Forbes, BusinessWeek and the World Economic Forum. He holds Iceland's highest honor, the Order of the Falcon, and in 2019 was elected the first president of the Nordic Society of Human Genetics and Precision Medicine.

Webinar 19: The role of physical activity in prevention and recovery from COVID-19 and the measures introduced to address the pandemic

Title: The role of physical activity in prevention and recovery from COVID-19 and the measures introduced to address the pandemic


Professor Nanette MutrieMBE CPsychol FBASES FHEPA-Europe, Director of Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, University of Edinburgh ​​​​​

Dr Paul Kelly, Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, University of Edinburgh

Professor Sebastien Chastin, Senior Research Fellow, Physiotherapy, Department of Physiotherapy and Paramedicine, Glasgow Caledonian University and Ghent University

​​​Dr Claire Fitzsimons, Lecturer in Physical Activity for Health, Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, University of Edinburgh

This webinar will introduce new findings about the role of physical activity and the prevention of infectious disease, re-inforce the benefits of physical activity and discuss the barriers that may have been presented during COVID -19 restrictions, and highlight the potential disbenefits of increased sedentary time from working at home or shielding. There will also be opportunity for questions.

Thursday 24 September  10:00-11:00 (UK)

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Webinar 18: Australia's experience and the role of modelling in its responses to COVID-19

Title: Australia’s experience and the role of modelling in its responses to COVID-19


Dr James Wood, Associate Professor and Postgraduate Coordinator, School of Public Health & Community Medicine, Australia

Professor James Wood is an infectious disease modeller with a PhD background in mathematical physics who works on analysis of interventions for pandemic responses, vaccine preventable diseases  and sexually transmitted infections. After a postdoc at the National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance, he joined UNSW Sydney in 2008. He contributed to Australian pandemic planning from 2005-10, including modelling vaccine roll-out in response to pH1N12009. He is currently involved in modelling coronavirus responses as part of national team, providing forecasting reports for the NSW MoH and is supporting responses in the Philippines and Malaysia via WHO WPRO.

Dr Michael Lydeamore, Department of Health and Human Services Victoria and Monash University, Australia 

Dr Michael Lydeamore is an infectious diseases modeller who completed his PhD in the control of skin infections in the northern Territory, Australia. He joined Monash University in 2019, and joined the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services as part of the COVID-19 response in February 2020. He is currently the modelling and forecasting lead at the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services in the Intelligence Branch, COVID-19 division, which is responsible for the dynamic modelling and advanced analytics of the Department’s data related to COVID-19.

Abstract:  Australia has thus far experienced a relatively low overall health impact from COVID-19. This has been the result of control of international borders as well as adoption of initially moderate social distancing measures supplemented by test-trace and isolate strategies. However, challenges have emerged more recently in terms of a significant epidemic in Victoria, which has required more stringent social restrictions to bring under control. Here we will discuss how modelling and advanced data analytics has interacted with national policy before talking through the post 1st wave Victorian experience in more detail.

Friday 11 September 09:00-10:00 (UK)  


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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


Allan Baker, Deputy Head of Population Health Analysis, Health Improvement Directorate, Public Health England

Emma Pawson,  Health Improvement Leader,  Public Health England

Abstract: Insights from recent PHE research -understanding the disproportionate impacts of COVID -19 - and action at a local , regional and national level to tackle health inequalities

with  Dr. S Vittal KatikireddiSenior Clinical Research Fellow & Honorary Consultant in Public Health,  MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow

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. ​​​    

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)    

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)  

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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 and

Thursday 2 April 09:00-10:00 (UK)

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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)

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