Intended for healthcare professionals


The BMJ Awards 2021: Special recognition award for science communication

BMJ 2021; 374 doi: (Published 30 September 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2326
  1. Helen Jones, freelance journalist
  1. London, UK

Covid-19 is complex and has often been confusing for the public, but during a period of extended uncertainty two voices have provided clarity, says Helen Jones: Devi Sridhar and Christina Pagel, who have received this special award for their courage in communicating evidence on policy during the pandemic

Devi Sridhar

Throughout the pandemic, Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, has advised Scottish and UK governmental covid-19 committees and made regular media appearances to explain the scientific issues to the public. She describes the experience as “surreal” and says, “In my normal academic life, if I did any media interviews it would be very niche. It wasn’t mass media. I do get very positive responses and have flowers delivered . . . and various proposals, which make me chuckle, but there is also the flip side. Social media is toxic for anyone in the public eye, particularly if you [are] talking about restrictions, masks and vaccines, which are very emotive topics.”

Sridhar has gained a reputation for straight talking, telling a House of Commons committee in November 2020, “The problem right now is that people emotionally want to hear reassuring messages. They wanted to hear over the summer that there would be no second wave, and they want to hear now that Christmas will be normal. I have to speak bluntly. The virus does not care if it …

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