Known unknowns webinar series

A series of webinars on specific topics related to aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, as it progresses in 2021. The series follows on from the BMJ editorial "Covid-19's known unknowns" by George Davey Smith, Michael Blastland and Marcus Munafo, and the successful full-day webinar of the same title from by the British Medical Journal and the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit on 20th November 2020.

Webinars will be recorded and will be available here and on the BMJ YouTube channel soon after the live event. Registered participants will receive a link to the recording when available.

If you would like to suggest a topic for a future webinar, please email us, using "known unknowns" as the subject. You can also email us if you would like to receive notice about future webinars.

Email: mrc-ieu@bristol.ac.uk

Origins of Covid #covidunknowns

7th October 16:00 to 18:00 GMT: Registration

As with so much of the science on covid, the origins of the disease have become a political football, polarising scientists and the public alike. The origins of covid are still unknown.  They  are nevertheless important if we are to prevent future pandemics and political conflicts. This webinar will examine:

  • the two key hypotheses regarding  the  origins of covid (natural spillover versus laboratory source),  and 
  • how the tools of science can be used to understand and mitigate risk of future pandemics Natural spillover from animal vectors to human, have strong historical precedent and more attention has to be paid to changing ecosystems. Laboratory research including   ‘gain of function’ research, and accidental laboratory  leak are also  potential sources with calls for stronger systems of global governance, transparency and public accountability for the  ‘global virome project’.

Vaccination in children #covidunknowns

Broadcast on 9th September.  We extend our thanks to Fiona Godlee (The BMJ), Phil Hammond (Phil Hammond), Katie Parsons, (University of Hull).

George Davey Smith (University of Bristol), Russell Viner (University College London) Shamez Ladhani (St George's University), Emma Duncan (Kings College London), Adam Finn (University of Bristol), Valtýr Stefánsson Thors, assistant (University of Iceland).

Allyson Pollock (Newcastle University), Christine Benn (University of Southern Denmark), Chadi Saad-Roy (Princeton University), Caroline Wagner (McGill University), Rustom Antia (Emory Vaccine Center)

Kamran Abbasi (The BMJ), Sridhar Venkatapuram (Kings College London), Peter Doshi (The BMJ).

Ageing and death in the time of Covid-19 #covidunknowns

Broadcast on 8th July We extend our thanks to Dr Kamran Abbasi (The BMJ), Kate Clanchy (writer and academic), Danny Dorling (University of Oxford), Carol Brayne (University of Cambridge). George Davey Smith (Unversity of Bristol), Seamus O’Mahony (retired gastroenterologist and author of “The Way We Die Now”). Allyson Pollock (Newcastle), Laura Tradii (University of Cambridge). Sheldon Solomon (author of “The Worm at the Core”), Bettina Husebø, (University of Bergen), Suresh Kumar (Institute of Palliative Medicine, Kerala). Felicia Marie Knaul, (University of Miami), Richard Smith

Covid Vaccine passports #covidunknowns

Broadcast on 10th June. We extend our thanks to Dr Kamran Abbasi (The BMJ), Imogen Parker (Ada Lovelace Institute), Allyson Pollock (Newcastle University), Robert Dingwall (Nottingham Trent University). George Davey Smith (Unversity of Bristol), Daniel Sleat and Kirsty Innes (Tony Blair Institute for Global Change), Michael Veale (UCL), Seda Gurses (Delft University of Technology) and Michael Veale (UCL), Rogier Creemers (Leiden University). Lilian Edwards (Newcastle University), Effy Vayena (ETH Zurich), Linnet Taylor (Tilburg University), Vidushi Marda (Article 19, Bangalore)

Mental health #covidunknowns

Broadcast on 13th May. We extend our thanks to MC Phil Hammond (Private Eye) and speakers and chairs Fiona Godlee (The BMJ), George Davey Smith (University of Bristol), Vikram Patel, Harvard University, Paul Harrison (University of Oxford), Hamish McAuley (University of Leicester), Becky Mars (University of Bristol), Praveetha Patalay (UCL), Tamsin Ford (University of Cambridge/ Cathy Creswell, University of Oxford), Duleeka Knipe (University of Bristol), Ezra Susser (Columbia), Matthias Pierce (Manchester), Lola Kola (University of Ibadan), Vishal Bhavsar (KCL), Kelly Doran (NYU)

Long covid #covidunknowns

Broadcast on 15th April 2021. We extend our thanks to MC Phil Hammond (Private Eye) and speakers and chairs Fiona Godlee (The BMJ), George Davey Smith (University of Bristol), Elaine Maxwell (National Institute of Health Research Dissemination Centre), Jo House (University of Bristol), Ben Humberstone (UK's Office of National Statistics), Simone Benatt (Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital Italy), Maxime Taquet (University of Oxford), Allyson Pollock (Newcastle University), Melissa Heightman (University College London Hospital), Margaret McCartney (General Practitioner) and Richard Byng (General Practitioner), Liz Whittaker (Imperial College London), Rob Barker-Davies (Defence Medical Rehabilitation Center). 

Variants #covidunknowns

Broadcast on 25th March 2021. We extend our thanks to MC Phil Hammond (Private Eye) and speakers and chairs Kamran Abbasi (The BMJ), George Davey Smith (University of Bristol), Aine O'Toole (University of Edinburgh), Ravindra Gupta (University of Cambridge), Wendy Barclay (Imperial College London), Muge Cevik (University of St Andrews), Richard Lessells (University of KwaZulu-Natal), Esther Sabino (University of Sao Paolo), Allyson Pollock (Newcastle University), Jeffrey Barret (Wellcome Sanger Institute), Alexandra Phelan (Georgetown University), Akiko Iwasaki (Yale School of Medicine).

COVID-19 testing in asymptomatic people #covidunknowns

A trusted and effective testing programme is essential for protecting health and livelihoods now and for future epidemics. Fiona Godlee of The BMJ, George Davey Smith of the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol and Allyson Pollock of Newcastle University, plus speakers from leading institutions discussed this topic on 11th February 2021. We extend our thanks to the MC Phil Hammond (Royal United Hospitals Bath, Private Eye) and the speakers: Angela Raffle (University of Bristol), Sian Taylor-Philips (University of Warwick), Brian McCloskey (Chatham House), Muge Cevik (University of St Andrews), Nicola Low (University of Bern), Jon Deeks (University of Birmingham), Tim Peto (University of Oxford), Patrick Bossuyt (University of Amsterdam), Theresa Marteau (University of Cambridge), Jackie Cassell (Brighton & Sussex Medical School), Pete Buckle (NIHR In Vitro Diagnostics C., London), Andrew Frazer (former DCMO Scotland), Stefan Baral (Johns Hopkins University).

Zero Covid #covidunknowns

Broadcast on 11th March 2021. Zero covid is a contested term. The COVID-Zero initiative aims to achieve zero deaths, zero new cases and zero lockdowns as soon as possible. In this webinar we explore what zero covid means, whether it is even possible and the different routes and paths countries are taking to manage the pandemic and possible futures. We extend our thanks to the MC Phil Hammond (Private Eye) and speakers and chairs Art Reingold (UC Berkeley), Helen Ward (Imperial College London), Deepti Gurdasani (Queen Mary University London), John Ioannidis (Stanford University), Michael Baker (University of Otago), Camilla Stoltenberg (Norwegian Institute of Public Health), Chang-yup Kim (Seoul National University), Stefan Beral (John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health), Jennie Lavine (Emory University), Christina Pagel (UCL), George Davey Smith (University of Bristol). 

COVID-19 Vaccines #covidunknowns

Broadcast on 25th February 2021. We extend our thanks to the MC Phil Hammond (Private Eye) and the speakers: Rajeka Lazarus (University Hospital of Bristol and Weston), Susanne Hodgson (University of Oxford), Ben Goldacre (Nuffield Department of Primary Care and Health Sciences), Peter Doshi (University of Maryland/The BMJ), Adam Finn (JCVI, University of Bristol), Richard Malley (Boston Children's Hospital), Carlos Correa (Intergovernmental South Centre), Priti Patnaik (Geneva Health Files), David Himmelstein (City University, New York), Chadi Saad-Roy & Caroline Wagner (Princeton University), Sheila Bird (University of Aberdeen).

COVID-19 and School #covidunknowns

 COVID-19 and schools #covidunknowns

Schools closures have been a controversial issue from the start of the COVID pandemic. Dr Fiona Godlee of The BMJ and Professor George Davey Smith of the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the Bristol University, plus their invited guests from leading institutions discussed this topic on 28th January 2021. We extend our thanks to the MC Phil Hammond and the speakers: Alasdair Munro (University of Southampton), Muge Cevik (University of St Andrews), Elizabeth Whittaker (Imperial College London), Rachael Wood (Public Health Scotland), David McAllister (University of Glasgow),Elisabeth Gilpin (St Mary Redcliffe School, Bristol), Sunil Bhopal (Newcastle University), Bruce Adamson (Children & Young People's Commisioner Scotland), Haroon Chowdry (Director of Evidence for Children's Commissioner England), Ibukun C. Akinboyo (Duke University Hospital), Margrethe Greve-Isdahl (Institute of Public Health, Norway), Arnaud Fontanet (Pasteur Institue), Jennifer Couzin-Frankel (Science Magazine).

Covid-19's known unknowns editorial

"The more certain someone is about covid-19, the less you should trust them"

writes George Davey Smith, Michael Blastland and Marcus Munafo in their BMJ editorial published in October 2019. 

Covid-19: Known unknowns webinar

Dr Fiona Godlee of The BMJ, Professor George Davey Smith of the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol and Allyson Pollock of Newcastle University, plus their invited guests discuss many aspescts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Find all the sessions from 20th November 2020 on The BMJ YouTube channel.

Known unknowns future events

All webinars are scheduled for Thursday afternoons, 16:00 to 18:00 GMT: 

7th October, 2021: Origins of Covid

Further information

Edit this page