Many of you have written to me with complex questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, including detailed enquiries on transmission, vaccines, possible treatment, lockdowns and other restrictions.

I am not qualified to answer many of these questions, but I am lucky to represent a constituency which is home to many internationally recognised experts in many different fields. That includes scientists at the forefront of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week I held an online event with some of the University of Bristol’s leading scientists – watch it below, or scroll down to find your question. The panel included researchers participating in the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and the World Health Organization. See their biographies here.

The debate was fascinating. I was struck by just how much more we know after less than a year of research into COVID-19. The experts challenged a few myths and misconceptions, including questions over vaccine safety, COVID treatments and the relative success of different countries.

Thank you to everyone involved in this illuminating event. Bristol may be a small city in global terms, but we hit big when it comes to scientific expertise.

Your questions answered

2:10 – Introduction from Hugh Brady, University of Bristol Vice Chancellor:

7:17 – Introduction from Thangam

10:14 – Dr Ellen Brooks Pollock, lecturer in infectious disease mathematical modelling, provides an overview of her work

14:29 – Prof Adam Finn, Professor of paediatrics, and leader of Bristol University’s COVID-19 Emergency Research Group provides an overview of recent research

19:21 – Prof Lucy Yardley, Professor of health psychology and member of SAGE talks about her work advising the government

23:34 – Prof Caroline Relton, Professor of Epigenetic Epidemiology talks about UOB’s study on managing the pandemic in schools

28:00 – Is the recent news announcing a working vaccine good news?

30:12 – Is the vaccine safe? Has it been rushed through?

31:47 – How many people have to be vaccinated for it to be effective?

33:13 – Are there issues with people who are high risk but can’t be vaccinated?

34:52 – Is it morally right to push vaccines on people? Can we use Hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 instead?

36:28 – How do we deal with misinformation?

38:49 – What will happen to schools?

39:46 – Can you tell us more about the different methods of testing?

41:50 – To what extent have the social distancing measures helped?

44:10 – Why have we chosen lockdown and not followed the Swedish model?

46:13 – What do we know about the increased risk to BAME communities?

48:31 – How has the pandemic highlighted educational inequality?

49:41 – How do we treat young people differently when their symptoms can be different? And what should schools be doing?

53:47 – What does herd immunity actually mean and why is it so important?

56:24 – What will we take with us to help with other crises and pandemics?

1:01:32 – Final thanks/end.


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