COVID-19: Where science meets the headlines

Science Media Centre (SMC) Malaysia is an independent information resource centre aimed at promoting accurate and evidence-based reporting especially on complex or controversial science issues in the media.

As COVID-19 takes centre stage, we help you to better understand the pandemic by bringing you the latest research and expert reactions on the novel coronavirus.

Our Latest

[MEDIA RELEASE] Free Hand Sanitizers for Malaysia: A collaborative initiative to fight COVID-19

In response to the fight against COVID-19, U.S. Department of State’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Initiative for activities in Malaysia in partnership with the Malaysia Biotechnology Students’ Association (MYBIOSA) and several other NGOs, has initiated “function of Science” to mobilize multiple free hand sanitizer production facilities in university laboratories across Malaysia.

[MEDIA RELEASE] Prioritise Childcare for Healthcare Workers – Academy of Medicine of Malaysia

Childcare for healthcare workers should be prioritised, as reflected in the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. The CDC states that if childcare centres cannot fulfil necessary physical distancing measures for all children, childcare centres should “consider serving only the children of healthcare workers and first responders”. This is in stark contrast with the SOP by KPWKM which states that the best arrangement for children of HCWs is at-home care.

[MEDIA RELEASE] COVID-19 Prevention Measures In Migrant Detention Depots – Prof Datuk Dr Lam Sai Kit

Malaysia must tackle this new crisis swiftly and ensure that measures taken to prevent spread within the depots are effective, and that there will be no spillage of cases into the community. To prevent over-crowding, Immigration should not detain more undocumented migrants at this stage of the crisis. Social distancing is challenging to practice but it is the cornerstone of reducing transmission of COVID-19.

[EXPERT REACTION] Obesity risk factor for COVID-19 infection?

While the relation between obesity and COVID-19 is not fully known, there are emerging studies pointing to obesity as one of the top underlying condition for people aged 60 years old and under who are hospitalised for the coronavirus. Severe obesity reportedly increases the risk of a major COVID-19 complication known as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). We asked experts to comment on obesity as a risk factor for becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.

[EXPERT REACTION] COVID-19 and the possible link with Kawasaki disease in children

While there are no Kawasaki cases detected among children infected by COVID-19 in the country, some children who tested positive for COVID-19 in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and the US have reported to display overlapping symptoms of severe COVID-19, toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease. We asked experts to comment about the links between COVID-19 and Kawasaki disease, a multi-system inflammatory syndrome which primarily affects children under the age of five.

[RESEARCH INSIDER] Preparing for the next microscopic threat

Research Insider this week gets up close with Low Wen Wen, a microbiologist-in-training who is pursuing her PhD at Imperial College London. She is investigating how antibiotic resistance genes are transmitted in a bacteria called Klebsiella pneumoniae. It is a major cause of hospital-acquired infections. Research Insider also identifies the areas of United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which the research covers and its impact.

[MEDIA RELEASE] Guide for COVID-19 Prevention in Schools

This guide (SOP) aims to help offer ideas and initiatives that could be taken when we reopen schools. Teachers need to work very closely with parents and students; parents and children can play an important role. Students should be involved and provided a clear understanding of the situation. Younger students and those with learning disabilities may require reinforced training with a focus on visual tools. Support between schools will also be critical.

[MEDIA RELEASE] Global Solutions for Global Access for COVID–19 Diagnostics, Treatments & Vaccines — MHC & DNDi

The signatories of this Joint Statement are a group of health professional societies, non-profit organizations, advocates, policymakers and citizens. We hold the strong position that the global fight against Covid–19 will be won only if all stakeholders play their part. Therefore, we urge all global diagnostics, pharmaceutical and vaccine companies, including Gilead, to meet the following recommendations to ensure that all of humanity will have people’s vaccines, people’s medicines and people’s diagnostics.

[OPINION] Impact of COVID-19 on Children’s Health

Children

Children form a small proportion of those who have tested positive in this COVID-19 pandemic. In Malaysia, children aged 0-12 years comprised of 317 out of 6,872 cases identified (4.6%). Although children get infected with COVID-19 and transmit the disease, the vast majority generally do very well or remain asymptomatic; severe illness and death are rare. Recently however there has been concern, as young children infected with COVID-19 have presented with a severe Kawasaki-like disease with some fatality.

[MEDIA RELEASE] Climate Change, COVID-19 and Future Pandemics

Like COVID-19, around 75% of new infectious diseases are zoonotic. Some experts believe climate change may be putting humans in closer contact with animals. While COVID-19 and climate change are real but different health emergencies, both are of environmental origin and they point to a common denominator – destructive environmental practices ultimately affect our health.

[EXPERT REACTION] COVID-19 Blood Plasma Transfusion Treatment

While scientists race to find a vaccine for the coronavirus, countries including Malaysia are resorting to convalescent blood plasma transfusion to treat patients severely ill with COVID-19. The treatment includes administering blood plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to patients critically ill with the novel respiratory illness. We asked experts to comment on the effectiveness of this method to treat newly-infected patients.

[MEDIA RELEASE] Social Media, Fake News and COVID-19

Each day, we are bombarded by misinformation on COVID-19, especially on social media. This situation makes it difficult for users to distinguish between fact and fake news. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called this an “infodemic” describing it as more dangerous than coronavirus pandemic. To address these issues, the Science Media Centre (SMC) Malaysia in collaboration with the Medical Mythbusters Malaysia hosted a webinar recently to discuss the impact of the fake news on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Testimonials

The need and importance of effective science communication is clearly highlighted in this COVID-19 pandemic. Communicating science between scientists and the general public, policy makers and other stakeholders is an essential element of outbreak management plan. The public and policy makers must be able to understand the basics of science before they can make informed decisions. But scientists need a platform to share their knowledge, research data and information to the public and policy makers. And the Science Media Centre Malaysia provides a great platform for scientists to reach out.

Dr Chai Lay Ching, Chairperson Young Scientists Network-Academy of Sciences Malaysia

Photo of Dr Chai Lay Ching, Chairperson Young Scientists Network-Academy of Sciences Malaysia

In a fast-paced newsroom, journalists are always busy and rushing to meet deadlines. With the COVID-19 coverage, we are constantly seeking out information and expert insights to accurately explain about the global pandemic particularly on the aspects of infection and treatment. COVID-19 requires a greater understanding of science and the Science Media Centre Malaysia is a good place for journalists to source for experts’ quotes and we also get story ideas by reading about the latest scientific research.

Thasha Jayamanogaran, Chief-Reporter, Malay Mail

Photo of Thasha Jayamanogaran, Chief-Reporter, Malay Mail