Following the government’s publication of their action plan to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak, Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said:
“I am pleased to see the government provide such open and accessible advice, and that this guidance contains a strong emphasis on how all decisions will be informed by the best possible scientific evidence. The action plan also recognises the essential role research will play to find out more about this virus to help stop it spreading and to treat patients in the best way.
“Clearly there is a significant public health threat if the outbreak continues to spread widely, but in laying out this action plan the government have shown that they are prepared to respond appropriately to this novel coronavirus. I think this advice strikes a good balance by proposing action but not over reacting - thereby preventing us doing more harm to ourselves and society as a whole.
“The clear message the government is sending out is particularly important in an age of multiple media sources and 24 hour news. Misinformation could threaten the way in which we work together to deal with this outbreak. Accessible advice will help empower the public to take sensible measures to protect themselves, such as handwashing, and avoiding putting trust in products that make false claims. It will also guide people to adapt their daily lives in a way that is proportionate to the extent of the outbreak at the time.
“Science plays a vital role in shaping how we prepare for outbreaks like this and the way we respond to emerging diseases. We have the benefit of many more biomedical tools to track the spread of infections than we have ever had before. However, for the best possible patient and public outcomes we need researchers of many different disciplines to work together across healthcare settings, academia, industry and alongside policy makers in the UK and globally.
“I would like to commend all of our Fellows and the researchers we support who are taking valuable time to share their expertise and latest research findings with health care staff, policy makers and the media. The Academy itself will continue to work with researchers, policy makers and health experts around the world to limit the impact of this global health threat.”
For more information about the work of the Academy of Medical Sciences, visit our homepage or visit our policy page and careers page. Recent Academy activities relevant to this topic include our recent GCRF report on Epidemic Preparedness, our commitment to rapid and open sharing of research findings relevant to the COVID-19 outbreak and a blog from our Vice President International on how prepared we are in the UK and internationally for the outbreak.
For trusted sources of information about COVID-19 in the UK, the UK government recommend visiting: www.nhs.uk/, www.nhsinform.scot, www.publichealth.hscni.net, https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19 and www.gov.uk/.