UCL Minds


Coronavirus: The Whole Story

The 'Coronavirus: The Whole Story' podcast highlights UCL's interdisciplinary expertise on Covid-19 - focusing on its management, mitigation, eventual halt, and preparing for a post-coronavirus world.

Welcome to this new weekly podcast series that explores the pandemic from the perspective of researchers across UCL.

Presented by writer, broadcaster and UCL alumna Vivienne Parry, each episode will look at the coronavirus outbreak through different lenses, covering history, psychology, social sciences, arts, engineering, economics, law, and politics.

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NEW! Episode 25: Could COVID-19 trump Trump?

With US election night looming, this week’s episode is all about the role that Coronavirus is playing in voter decisions in America.

In previous episodes, we’ve discussed the colossal impact that COVID-19 has had on the medical world, society and the economy. This week, we speak to experts from the UCL Institute of the Americas and the Centre on US Politics to explore the impact of the pandemic on the political landscape across the pond:

  • Dr Julie Norman, Teaching Fellow in Politics & International Relations, Department of Political Science
  • Dr Nick Witham, Associate Professor of United States History, UCL Institute of the Americas

Access the transcript for Episode 25

See previous episodes below...

Episode 1: What happens to you in intensive care?

Who will require a ventilator or a breathing machine?

This week we’re exploring what happens inside intensive care. With special guests Professor Hugh Montgomery, Director of the UCL Institute for Human Health and Performance and Mervyn Singer, Professor of Intensive Care Medicine.

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Episode 2: How can we track the virus?

Do we understand the spread of the virus?

Listen to Professor Andrew Hayward, Director of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care and Dr Eleni Nastouli, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Child Health and Clinical Lead of the Department of Clinical Virology at UCLH.


Access the transcript for Episode 2

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Episode 3: What are the exit strategies?

When can we go outside? How will the lockdown end?

This week we’re discussing how, and when, the lockdown in the UK might end. With special guests Paul Ormerod, Visiting Professor at the UCL Centre for Decision Making Uncertainty and Professor David Alexander, Professor of Risk and Disaster Reduction at the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction.

Access the transcript for Episode 3

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Episode 4: Are children learning under lockdown?

What are the limits to learning in lockdown?

With schools closed and parents and carers teaching their children at home, what will the long-term impact be on their learning? Hear from experts from the Institute of Education:

Access the transcript for Episode 4

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Episode 5: How is it affecting our mental health?

How do we cope and protect ourselves and our communities?

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and we’re exploring the impact of coronavirus on people’s emotional wellbeing and mental health. Hear from UCL experts as they talk about how it affects us in lockdown, front line staff, bereaved families, the vulnerable, and the many factors that impact various groups.

Access the transcript for Episode 5

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Episode 6: What can we learn from the history of pandemics?

What does the black death, HIV, and Covid-19 have in common?

This week we're looking into the past, teasing apart the surprising similarities and learnings from previous pandemics - HIV/ AIDS in the 1980s and the Black Death in the 14th century.

Access the transcript for Episode 6

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Episode 7: How close are we to finding a cure?

In this special edition, made for the Cheltenham Science Festival at home, we’re exploring how we tackle and track the virus.

Access the transcript for Episode 7

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Episode 8: How do we reimagine the future?

Future earth, future tech, future health

In this special edition, made for the Cheltenham Science Festival at Home, we’re exploring what the future will look like post-COVID-19.

Access the transcript for Episode 8

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Episode 9: How has the pandemic highlighted BAME inequalities?

Ethnicity, inequality, socio-economic issues

This week we are addressing the recent report on disparities in the risks and outcomes of Covid-19 and discussing other issues of inequality during the pandemic.

Access the transcript for Episode 9

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Episode 10: What does a physically distant COVID world look like?

What is lockdown doing to our bodies? What type of mask is best to wear?

This week, as lockdown continues to ease, we are talking about how to stay safe (and alert) both at home and out in the world. This episode talks all about the type of face mask to wear to enabling creativity in our own spaces.

Prof Nick Tyler (Chadwick Chair of Civil Engineering) Dr Gregory Thompson (Strategic Lead for Performance Creative & Applied Humanities) Prof Mark Miodownik (Director of the Institute of Making)

Access the transcript for Episode 10

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Episode 11: Proud to Help

How did UCL staff and students support the pandemic at its peak?

Our guests talk about the challenge to respond rapidly, the brilliant teamwork they found in the hospital, and how the experience was both humbling and unforgettable.

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Episode 12: How can behavioural science help us combat the virus? 

Why should we listen to behavioural scientists?

Now that lockdown is beginning to ease, we’re joined by behavioural scientists and SAGE - and Independent SAGE - advisors, to explore the role that behavioural science plays in controlling the spread of COVID-19. 

Access the transcript for Episode 12

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Episode 13: How will our children recover from lockdown? 

As the coronavirus pandemic in the UK approaches its sixth month, we’re taking a look at the long-term impact of lockdown and subsequent school closures on our nation’s children and young people.

  • Dr Amelia Roberts (Principal Teaching Fellow, UCL Institute of Education)
  • Dr Lee Hudson (Clinical Associate Professor at the GOSH UCL Institute of Child Health)
  • Shafina Vohra (UCL IOE alumna, psychology teacher and PhD student)

Access the transcript for Episode 13

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Episode 14: How has the pandemic changed arts and culture?

Will we ever go back to theatres and museums in the same way?

As one of the hardest hit sectors of all, this week we're looking at how museums and theatres are re-imagining the arts. Hear from this week's guests from UCL Arts and Humanities, UCL Culture, as well as a director of programmes at Sadler's Wells Theatre - our new neighbour in UCL East.

  • Prof Stella Bruzzi (Dean, UCL Arts & Humanities)
  • Catriona Wilson (Head, UCL Petrie Museum)
  • Anneliese Graham (Programming Director, Sadler's Wells Theatre)

Access the transcript for Episode 14

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Episode 15: How do we kick-start the economy?

Are we headed towards another 'great depression'?

With the possibility of the UK entering the deepest recession in 300 years, we're exploring some of the practical ways we can help the economy bounce back. 

Access the transcript for Episode 15

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Episode 16: When will we have a vaccine?

How close are scientists to producing an effective vaccine for coronavirus? How are vaccines developed?

With more than 140 candidate vaccines now tracked by the World Health Organization, we speak to three key UCL researchers with expertise in biochemical engineering, bioethics and Pharmaceutics to find out what progress has been made and how we can make sure everyone has access to a vaccine when it’s ready. Join Vivienne Parry as she explores this with UCL experts:

Access the transcript for Episode 16

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Episode 17: What's happening to healthcare during the pandemic?

With many areas of healthcare threatened by the pandemic, we're exploring the impact on patients who haven't caught the virus, but who are sick with something else instead. Find out what's causing more people to die in the UK this year other than coronavirus, how cancer diagnosis and treatments are being managed, and how some neurologists are looking after patients online. Join Vivienne Parry as she speaks with:

•    Dr Amitava Banerjee (Clinical Senior Lecturer Honorary Consultant in Cardiology) 
•    Prof Georgios Lyratzopoulos (Professor of Cancer Epidemiology)
•    Prof Nick Ward (Professor of Clinical Neurology and Neurorehabilitation)
•    UCL - SameYou Covid-19 campaign for neurorehabilitation

Access the transcript for Episode 17

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Episode 18: Can AI save us?

Could AI have predicted the pandemic? How is it helping the health care system? Recent 'Test and Trace' programmes have raised growing concerns over data protection and privacy in the wake of the global pandemic. Find out how AI helping us navigate the gradual return to normal life and explore with us how the pandemic has changed how we should use AI in the future.

  • Prof Kate Jones (Chair of Ecology & Biodiversity, Division of Biosciences)
  • Dr Michael Veale (Lecturer in Digital Rights and Regulation, Laws)
  • Dr Ali Parsa (UCL Alumnus & CEO of Babylon)

    Special thanks to our Guest Editor, Prof Geraint Rees, Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences

Access the transcript for Episode 18

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Episode 19: Is it time to go back to the office?

As the UK is encouraging more people to go back to the office, we're thinking about what kind of workplace we might be returning to and how to get there safely. Hear from UCL's experts in Engineering and Architecture about how their research is helping both employers and employees start to get back to normal. 

  • Dr Lena Ciric (Senior Lecturer at the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
  • Dr Kerstin Sailer (Reader in Social and Spatial Networks, The Bartlett Faculty of Built Environment)
  • Dr Simon Addyman (Associate Professor in Project Management, The Bartlett Faculty of Built Environment)

Access the transcript for Episode 19

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Episode 20: How do we safely return to university life?

As universities re-open for the start of term, we ask three key people behind the plans for a safe return to university life: What does the autumn term going to look like? What will teaching be like under social distancing guidelines? How can students make the most of being back to university?

Access the transcript for Episode 20

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Episode 21: How do we cope with isolation?

As the situation evolves rapidly and rules seem to change, we're talking about isolation - coming out of it, and going back into it, how to cope mentally and emotionally. What can astronauts teach us about dealing with isolation? How can we enable safe interaction among young people? Can digital touch help?

Join Vivienne Parry as she speaks with UCL experts:

  • Dr Kevin Fong (Consultant Anaesthetist & Anaesthetic Lead for Major Incident Planning UCLH)
  • Prof Peter Fonagy (Head of the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, Brain Sciences)
  • Prof Carey Jewitt (Professor of Learning and Technology, IoE)

Access the transcript for Episode 21

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Episode 22: Could COVID be the great equaliser?

This week, we’re talking about inequality – a theme we’ve touched on before in our episodes on education, the health impacts of the virus, and how different communities have been affected. In this episode, we’re joined by an anthropologist, an engineer and a political scientist to explore inequality from a global perspective, and to see if we can find some solutions.

Join Vivienne Parry as she speaks with UCL experts:

Join the Beyond Boundaries Conference on 19-26 October

Access the transcript for Episode 22

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Episode 23: What does Europe & the EU mean in a COVID world?

This week’s episode is all about Brexit - what could have been the greatest challenge the UK had faced in several decades if it didn’t have to compete with a global pandemic.

Join host Vivienne Parry as she speaks to UCL experts in law, maths and the social and historical sciences to help us understand how Brexit and coronavirus have impacted each other - and what the next few months could look like as both issues intensify towards the end of the year.

Access the transcript for Episode 23

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Episode 24: Could COVID-19 save the planet?

This week we’re exploring the role COVID-19 has played in the climate crisis. As things have changed, traffic has gone down in cities, and people are realising what clean air really feels like. But the short term gains are countered by the explosion in production of single-use plastics needed for PPE and many more. 

We speak to UCL experts from the school of Mathematical and Physical Sciences and The Bartlett, Faculty of the Built Environment, to discuss the lessons we can learn from the government's response to COVID-19 and whether the pandemic could save the planet:

Access the transcript for Episode 24

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This podcast is produced by UCL Communications and Marketing with support from UCL Health of the Public, the Office of the Vice-Provost (Advancement), and UCL Grand Challenges (Office of the Vice-Provost (Research). This series is part of UCL Minds - bringing together UCL knowledge, insights, and expertise through events, digital content, and activities open to everyone.

The views of our academic experts and other guests in UCL podcasts are their own. UCL regards the right to debate and challenge ideas as fundamental to the nature of a university and is committed to ensuring that free and open discussion can take place in an atmosphere of tolerance as part of our Code of Practise on Freedom of Speech.