In an age of globalisation and hyperconnectivity, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented and sustained impact worldwide. This article discusses issues related to (science) communication at different phases of the COVID-19 epidemic timeline. We consider the role of communication for prevention from the ecological perspective, taking into consideration that many emerging pathogens, including COVID-19, likely arise in part due to anthropogenic changes to natural environments. Communication forms part of the early response setting the scene for public buy-in of public health interventions at the start of an outbreak, as well as to maintain precautions over time. Finally, communication is a key element in increasing acceptance for new tools that require mass uptake to be effective, as seen with roll-out challenges for the COVID-19 vaccines, which faced heightened concerns of efficacy and safety while mired with rampant misinformation. Ultimately, strategies for prevention of viral epidemics such as COVID-19 must include communication strategies at the forefront to reduce the risk of the emergence of new diseases and enhance efforts to control their spread and burden. Despite key themes emerging, what constitutes effective communication strategies for different people and contexts needs to be investigated further.
Link to publisher’s web site