Primary Information

COVID-19: the changing science

In WFSJ Briefing—our collection of SARS-CoV2 science, ideas and analysis—we have published a link to a page of retractions of SARS-CoV2 science from the useful online resource Retraction Watch. Today, we publish a letter calling for the retraction of a much-shared paper on asymptomatic transmission.

It’s really worth keeping an eye on the status of the science as it evolves. We have never seen such a flood of science (both preprints and research that has been through the peer-review and editing process), and things are shifting and evolving in real time. It’s wonderful to see things moving so fast and to see clinicians and researchers talking to each other and throwing ideas around in the quest to find interdisciplinary answers and solutions.

But at the same time, for journalists, it’s a bit nerve-wracking. Something that looks like a truly juicy finding just begging for a headline can become an embarrassment tomorrow – one of those stories that make you wince when you are reminded of it.

All too often the haste to publish, to get the clicks, leads to irresponsible reporting. We hope that our readers will remember to report with caution and care, with qualifications and with thoughtful commentary that shares what could be useful info but makes clear that it may not be the be-all and end-all in the field.

Tread carefully, be thoughtful and remember the awesome responsibility you bear. As we say in South Africa, hamba kahle: go well.

Please let us know about any good articles you find or have written chasing down facts about fake news – or any particularly interesting research or analysis of science that you might like to share with science journalists across the world. Send links to – we’d like to share the best coverage and analysis with our readership.

This page is organised so that you can find information on different topics (from the drop-down COVID-19 menu at the top of the page), and then see that information separated into different types (see the tabs in the articles list, left).

If you would like to do a more advanced search of the content, start by putting a term in the search box. This will take you to our search page, which allows you to search by keyword, date, topic, type of information, and (where applicable) location.

We put up this site very quickly (it was eight days from the idea being originally mooted to the site going live) because we saw an urgent need and wanted to help. This means the site is far from perfect as it stands. Rest assured that we will be actively working to improve it.

… and, if you’d like to help:

  • If you cover this subject and would like to regularly contribute links to the site, or would like to contribute tips about best (and worst) practice in writing about this subject, contact:
  • If you have a few links you’d like to contribute but do not want to do so on a regular basis, just send the links to:
  • If you think the interface could be easier to use, we are missing out important areas of content, or would like to suggest other changes (or if you think there is another looming crisis we should create a briefing for), please contact:
  • Finally, if you have any day-to-day issues, notice mislabelled or bad material, or see any technical glitches, please contact:
WHO statement on AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine safety signals
23rd March 2021, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

Some countries in the European Union have temporarily suspended use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as a precautionary measure based on reports of rare blood coagulation disorders in persons who had received the vaccine. Other countries in the EU –...

WHO statement: Tobacco use and COVID-19
11th May 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

Tobacco kills more than 8 million people globally every year. More than 7 million of these deaths are from direct tobacco use and around 1.2 million are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Tobacco smoking is a known...

Updating our Approach to Misleading Information: Twitter
11th May 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

In serving the public conversation, our goal is to make it easy to find credible information on Twitter and to limit the spread of potentially harmful and misleading content. Starting today, we’re introducing new labels and warning messages that will...

Latest outputs on COVID-19

There is no available vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections and no drug with proven clinical efficacy, although there are several candidates that might be effective in prevention or treatment. Encouragingly, the response from the research...

European Society of Intensive Care Medicine COVID-19
23rd March 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

A coronavirus is one of many viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans, coronaviruses cause respiratory tract infections that are typically mild, such as the common cold, though rarer forms such as SARS, MERS and COVID-19 can...

Fellow South Africans, I am addressing you this evening on a matter of great national importance. The world is facing a medical emergency far graver than what we have experienced in over a century. The World Health Organisation has declared...

COVID-2019 situation reports
13th March 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

Coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) situation reports.

EU action against COVID-19
13th March 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

Almost three months after the first reported cases of Coronavirus infections in Wuhan (China), the outbreak of the new virus has taken a cross-border dimension that is seriously affecting global health security and economy. It is the time for rational...

COVID-19 candidate vaccines
13th March 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

On 31 December 2019, WHO was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. The coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) was identified as the causative virus by Chinese authorities on 7...

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.* Fever Cough Shortness of breath *This is based on what has been...

COVID-19 Situation map and stats
13th March 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

Countries, areas or territories with cases.

The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) today issued new guidance to help protect children and schools from transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The guidance provides critical considerations and practical checklists to...