The COVID-19 pandemic has now reached almost every corner of the world, and that includes the Target Malaria network of partners, or family as I prefer to think of them. All of our partner sites are affected, and we – as a project – are feeling the impact of the disease in one form or another. The situation is changing on a daily basis, and as a project we need to be ready to adapt and work to ensure the safety of our team members, partners, and other stakeholders involved in project activities. Target Malaria is defined by its people, and our first and foremost concern is their health and safety, we are here to support in any way we can.
As individuals and as a project, we are experiencing firsthand the burden of transmittable diseases on our public health institutions. This pandemic is highlighting the need for robust health systems and continuing investments in science and research to address existing and new infectious diseases.
As the Target Malaria team, we are working together to ensure no one is unnecessarily put at risk of getting sick or of increasing the risk to others. To ensure that we are working in the most efficient and safe way, the project will regularly assess the situation, review safety measures, communicate changes, and adapt our plans, these are unprecedented times.
Some of the Target Malaria team members have been called on by their governments because of their expertise to support the fight against COVID-19. They are supporting in many and diverse ways, including helping to develop faster testing kits, supporting diagnostics in the laboratory, modelling the spread of the disease, and supporting the development of national policies and best practices. We are very proud to see them in the front line, fighting this deadly disease with the same passion they bring when working to eradicate malaria.
Prof Andrea Crisanti, Professor of Molecular Parasitology at Imperial College London, who is also part in the Vò project in Italy. This city was able to eradicate the disease by testing and imposing strict quarantine measures to all citizens, including those in good health or those that were asymptomatic.
Prof Azra Ghani, Chair in Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College London, is modelling the likely impact of public health measures on slowing and suppressing the spread of the disease.
Prof Neil Ferguson, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and School of Public Health, and Director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis is advising the British Government on public health measures to help slow the advance of COVID-19 in the UK.
In this critical time, it is vital that we stay well informed on how the situation is evolving in our country and in our communities, relying on trustworthy sources. Misinformation is a major cause of unnecessary panic and, most of all, can be counter-productive to helping prevent the spread of the disease. Unfortunately, inaccurate reports and information about the virus are circulating fast. Two such false claims are addressed below:
- COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites. It is a respiratory virus that spreads primarily through droplets generated when an affected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or nasal discharge (WHO).
- This new coronavirus is the result of natural evolution process. It is not a human-made disease, neither a genetically engineered virus (Nature).
We encourage individuals to refer to the World Health Organization (WHO) for daily updates on how this pandemic is evolving and how we can all contribute in the effort to contain and mitigate the effects of the virus.
The health and well-being of our team members, partners, stakeholders and all those involved in the project is and will continue to be our main concern. We urge you to follow the guidance given by the WHO and your government to protect yourself and others from infection or transmission of the disease.
The video below highlights some of the best practices that we all should be following.
Like malaria, let’s fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19 together.
Stay safe, stay well, take good care.
Karen Logan, PhD
Target Malaria Senior Project Manager & Network Coordinator
Imperial College London, Department of Life Sciences (Silwood Park), UK