New patron of Uni’s skin research institute clears up COVID myths

APPEARANCES on ITV’s Good Morning Britain and Jeremy Vine’s lunchtime radio show are just two of the many programmes where you will have heard Dr Sarah Jarvis delivering clear, honest advice to the public on a variety of medical issues.

Now, in her role as the new Patron of the University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Skin Integrity and Infection Prevention (ISIaIP) Dr Jarvis opened the University’s international conference Wounds Week, in conjunction with the Journal of Wound Care, with her session entitled COVID-19: State of the Nation.

The session commenced with the Director of the ISIaIP Professor Karen Ousey asking how Dr Jarvis felt the public and UK Government had handled the pandemic.

Dr Jarvis replied by commending the younger generation of the population for everything they have done during the pandemic, especially when the risks to them were relatively small and the sacrifices they made were huge.

“For example, to put this into perspective,” said Dr Jarvis. “Out of the 46,000 deaths there have been in the UK, fewer than 10 have been children under the age of 18. Those under the age of 40 are 70 times less likely to die than those over the age of 80.

What Dr Jarvis thought the population had done less well is to recognise and come to terms with the fact that this pandemic is not just going to go away.

In terms of the Government, Dr Jarvis applauded the furlough scheme and said it enabled us as a nation to be able to get the first wave under control relatively quickly. However, she criticised the Government’s handling of PPE and said in her opinion the biggest scandal happened in the beginning when the government was in an enormous rush to get to free up hospital beds and sent a large proportion of elderly people back into their care homes.

“Of course we now know this meant they were sending people home into care homes who were already infected with the coronavirus,” she said.

“From what has happened in our care homes in terms of the spread and the proportion of people in those care homes who have died,has in my opinion led to the biggest scandal.”

Dr Jarvis also explained about the transmissibility of COVID and revealed how the coronavirus is ten times less infectious than measles.

Professor Ousey asked Dr Jarvis about the possibilities of a vaccine before Christmas and whether she felt there was to be a second wave of infection as Winter approached.

“I fear we may well be,” said Dr Jarvis. “Research has shown lower amounts of UVC can have a negative effect and secondly the cooler temperatures may also make a difference but thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, when winter comes we don’t spend as much time outside and that is going to be the biggest issue I think.”

Professor Ousey concluded the session by thanking Dr Jarvis for her expertise into the coronavirus and said educating people about the real facts of the virus and in bite size chunks, so they can easily understand them, is extremely important and needs to be considered in the future.

Dr Sarah Jarvis regularly joins Jeremy Vine to discuss health matters and has been the resident doctor for the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 for the last 16 years. She has been doctor to the One Show on BBC One for the last 10 years, and also appears on Good Morning Britain on ITV, BBC World News, BBC Radio 4, Radio 5 live, Channel 5 news and LBC.

Ironically, she became involved in medical media completely by accident but loves the fact that it gives her the opportunity to let the facts get in the way of a good headline.

Dr Jarvis has over 30 years’ experience in the NHS, and over 26 years as a GP. She combines working as a GP with a role as Clinical Director of the patient information website, which provides free health information written by NHS doctors for patients all over the world. Dr Jarvis believes passionately in helping people to take control of their own health, and equally strongly in ensuring that everyone has reliable health information to allow them to make really informed decisions.

In the 2018 New Year’s Honours list, Sarah was awarded an MBE for services to general practice and the public understanding of health.

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