A ‘byline’ to cherish

By April 1, 2021Public

After several decades in journalism I must confess the buzz of a byline has worn off.

But this week I was privileged to be named as a co-author on The CovidenceUK observational study which is investigating all things Covid-related.

Lead investigator Professor Adrian Martineau shared some of the preliminary findings via our Covidence webinar last year.

Many of the quirky — and potential newsworthy trends — around the risk of catching Covid which emerged from the early data began to evaporate as the case numbers built up. And they disappeared as analysis sifted out other factors and confounders.

But some clear, and curious, associations have emerged. Being overweight or obese not only increases the risk of severe illness, it also increases the risk of catching Covid-19. Asian people are more at risk — even when other factors are accounted for.

But having allergic hay fever, rhinitis or asthma appears to reduce the risk of catching the Coronavirus. This may be because people with allergies also have fewer ACE2 receptors, and it’s these receptors the virus targets to get into the body.

You can read the full paper here. And you you would like to interview Professor Martineau please email

The CovidenceUK team is currently offering volunteers on the study antibody tests to learn more about asymptomatic disease. They will also be looking into any general health and lifestyle factors which could influence vaccine efficacy.

There are now around 17,000 people completing the monthly surveys, but the team is keen to recruit more. It doesn’t matter whether you have had the virus, or not, or been vaccinated or not, your data can still help. Go to the CovidenceUK website for more information.

And you can watch Professor Martineau’s presentation here. It’s a salutary reminder that correlation is not causation and studies are a little like children — they can do the strangest things.

Jane Symons

Jane Symons

Author Jane Symons

Jane is a freelance journalist, author and media consultant whose credits range from The Sun to the World Health Organisation.She edited the health pages of The Sun for five years, and is a former health editor of Woman's Own and chief sub-editor of the Telegraph Magazine.At one time or another she has written for national dailies and magazines including The Sun, Daily Mail, Times, Telegraph, Daily and Sunday Express, Daily Mirror, Woman's Own and Woman & Home. She is currently a regular contributor to the Express and Mirror. Jane provides a range of bespoke consultancy services including content creation, media strategy, writing reports and press materials, crisis communications, media advisory boards and media training.Her book, How to Have a Baby and Still Live in the Real World has been published in the UK, USA, Russia and Sweden. Pregnancy: the Best for You and Your Baby has been published in countries including the Netherlands, France, Spain and the Czech Republic.

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