HKU Bulletin May 2020 (Vol.21 No.2)

HKU RESPONDS TO THE OUTBREAK The University has sought to provide the Hong Kong and global communities with accurate information and advice, while maintaining teaching and learning activities online. Details of the following highlights are available on the Fight COVID-19 website, which is regularly updated and received more than 5,000 views per day during its first two months (up to early April). • Fact-checking: The student-led Annie Lab of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre (JMSC) is part of the International Fact-Checking Network and its #CoronaVirusFactsAlliance, which is working to combat misinformation about COVID-19. Alliance members also include Agence France-Presse, Politico and news agencies from around the world. • Health advice: HKUMed and its experts have provided advice and answered questions from the community on how to wear a mask correctly, wash hands properly, maintain good health, help children stay healthy and other issues of concern. The real-time dashboard also provides the latest information on cases in Hong Kong, such as age, source, onset and outcome. • Relief Fund: The University has set up a Relief Fund to support students and community members in need, with a target of HK$10 million; HKU President Xiang Zhang and his senior management team have pledged 10 per cent of their salaries over 12 months and are encouraging HKU staff and other members to contribute as well. • Supporting the community: The LoveHK LoveU campaign was launched by HKU’s Admissions and Academic Liaison Section to provide tangible support and advice to the Hong Kong community on COVID-19. One platform, ShareWithU, collects anti-epidemic materials such as face masks from HKU members, alumni and partner organisations, which are distributed by students to people in need. Another platform, StandByU, offers health tips and live sessions, including professional medical advice, chatrooms for student support, well-being and counselling, and live chats by HKU top-scorers offering studying tips to HKDSE and IB candidates. • Free mindfulness practice guides: The Jockey Club ‘Peace and Awareness’ Mindfulness Culture in Schools Initiative at HKU has provided a mindfulness resources package with practice guides for the public. • Free home-based exercise videos: The ‘Exercise is Medicine on Campus’ initiative of HKU’s Centre for Sports and Exercise has produced a series of videos on home-based stretching, relaxation, mobility and circuit training exercises. • E-learning tools and tips: The Faculty of Education and HKU’s Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative have been providing support to colleagues and the wider community, such as guidance on how to apply technologies in effective and interactive ways for online teaching and student collaboration, how to convert a blended learning design course into a fully online course, links to arts and culture learning sites, and free online videos on documentary filmmaking and appreciation (through the JMSC). • Learn more: HKU has 17 MOOCs (massive open online courses), which are designed and taught by HKU academics and available for free on the Coursera and edX platforms. Two MOOCs are particularly timely – Epidemics I and Epidemics II – led by the Dean of Medicine, Professor Gabriel Leung. The latter is a new addition and focusses on COVID-19. In addition, the online ‘Live from Hong Kong’ broadcasts interviews with HKU experts on issues related to the pandemic to countries around the world. The first three programmes featured Professor Richard YC Wong, Philip Wong Kennedy Wong Professor in Political Economy from the Faculty of Business and Economics, and Professor Gabriel Leung and Professor Yuen Kwok-yung from the Faculty of Medicine, and attracted about 280,000 views. The ‘Podcast COVID19 with HKU’ also reports on the University’s latest research related to the pandemic. Pseudo-colour thin-section electron micrograph of the 2019 novel coronavirus grown in cells at the University of Hong Kong. The image shows part of a virus infected cell grown in culture with multiple virus particles being released from the cell surface. Each infected cell produces thousands of new infectious virus particles which can go on to infect new cells. ‘Live from Hong Kong’ broadcasts an interview with Professor Yuen Kwok-yung on ‘masks and other lessons from Asia’. Epidemic II looks at the fundamental scientific principles underlying epidemics and the public health actions behind their prevention and control in the 21st century, with follow-up discussions and supplementary content on how these concepts may be helpful in better understanding the COVID-19 outbreak. RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS ON COVID-19* HKUMed’s microbiologists and public health scholars have been working with collaborators in Hong Kong and around the world to improve the understanding of the disease, identify treatments, assess effective ways to manage the outbreak, and search for a vaccine. The findings have been published in such high-impact journals as The Lancet, The New England Journal of MedicineandNature . During the first three months of the outbreak, their achievements included: • Firsts: Produced the first family cluster evidence of person-to-person transmission based on patients at the HKU-Shenzhen Hospital; the first epidemiology report on COVID-19; the first electron microscope images of the COVID-19 virus; and the first mathematical dispersion model of the potential spread of COVID-19. • Tests: Developed rapid nucleic acid amplification tests that have been requested by public health laboratories in more than 70 countries and territories. The tests are freely available through HKUMed and the WHO. Also developed a hamster model for research on the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is more physiological than the transgenic mice model and is more accessible than macaque models, and used an ex vivohuman lung explant model to demonstrate why SARS-CoV-2 produces relatively milder symptoms and has higher transmissibility than the 2003 SARS-CoV. • Diagnosis: Produced more than a dozen published reports on diagnosing COVID-19, such as the viral dynamics in mild and severe cases, detecting the disease in children, and estimating clinical severity. Also showed that a deep throat saliva sample taken in early morning is effective for diagnosing and monitoring COVID-19 infection. • Transmission: Produced multiple reports on the spread of the disease, such as transmission dynamics, the effectiveness of measures such as social distancing in previous influenza pandemics, and the effectiveness of surgical face masks in preventing transmission of human coronaviruses and influenza viruses. • WHO Team and National Team: Two HKUMed staff (Professor Leung and Professor Yuen) were appointed to the 25-member WHO-China Joint Mission, and with experts from around the world visited five cities over two weeks in February to assess the state of the epidemic in China and the effectiveness of its response. These same two HKU experts are also part of the Chinese National Experts Group. • Analysis and more: Contributed analyses of the international governance structures needed to address the pandemic threat. Also produced studies on other aspects of COVID-19, such as identifying the Malaysian pangolin as a possible source. • Trials: Announced plans for a clinical trial on a possible target drug (through the HKU Clinical Trials Centre) and vaccine (through the State Key Laboratory for Emerging Infectious Diseases). *As at April 12, 2020 The University has launched the LoveHK LoveU campaign in which the ShareWithU platform helps those in need by matching up resources from those who are willing to share. The collected materials were distributed to charitable institutions by HKU student volunteer teams. Learn more about the most recent HKUMed COVID-19 research Visit the Fight COVID-19 website 40 The University of Hong Kong Bulletin | May 2020 41 KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE