issues and experts

SFU experts available to speak on latest COVID-19 developments

March 09, 2020

The following Simon Fraser University experts are available to speak on different aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak in Canada, following the first Canadian death and five new B.C. cases being reported today:

• Caroline Colijn can elaborate on forthcoming research (based on transmission data from Singapore and Tianjin, China), which suggests that COVID-19 transmission can occur days before symptoms start manifesting (based on the findings in this study - between 2.5 and 3 days). If infection of others occurs before symptoms become visible, it becomes harder to contain its spread. As a result, people can contract the illness and not know, also not know they could be spreading it to others.

This study also estimates COVID-19's time lag between a person showing symptoms and someone they infected showing symptoms (about 4-4.5 days; shorter than SARS). The authors use this to estimate that on average, an infected person can infect two others. Consequently, to contain the spread, about half of the infections must be prevented.

Caroline Colijn, professor, Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Evolution, Infection and Public Health,

*(availability: today until 4pm, and this evening; Tuesday/Wednesday until noon, Thursday after noon and Friday 12:45 pm – 2:30 pm only)

Andrew Wister, professor and director of SFU’s Gerontology Research Centre, is an expert on aging. Wister, who is also the past Chair of the National Seniors Council of Canada, can speak to how older adults/seniors are more vulnerable to viral diseases, such as COVID-19.

Andrew Wister, (available today and tomorrow)

Kelley Lee is leading a project that will support global coordination of the COVID-19 outbreak response. The project, funded by the federal government to combat COVID-19, was announced last week. Lee’s research interests focus on globalization, public health and global health governance.

Kelley Lee; professor, Canada Research Chair Tier I, Faculty of Health Sciences, 778.782.9039, (available all week)

• Sherri Ferguson, director of SFU’s Environmental Medicine and Physiology Unit, is available to speak about the importance of fit testing for N95 face masks, and her recent research relating to fit testing for members of the public (including types of workers) with facial hair.

Sherri Ferguson, 604.802.7069, (available all of this week)

Andrey Pavlov, professor, Beedie School of Business, is following the dramatic stock market slide tied to uncertainty about COVID-19.

Andrey Pavlov, 604.763.3696;

To connect with the experts, contact:

Melissa Shaw; University Communications and Marketing, 236.880.3297,

Shradhha Sharma; University Communications and Marketing, 778.782.3210,


About Simon Fraser University:

As Canada’s engaged university, SFU works with communities, organizations and partners to create, share and embrace knowledge that improves life and generates real change. We deliver a world-class education with lifelong value that shapes change-makers, visionaries and problem-solvers. We connect research and innovation to entrepreneurship and industry to deliver sustainable, relevant solutions to today’s problems. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties that deliver 193 undergraduate degree programs and 127 graduate degree programs to more than 35,000 students. The university now boasts more than 160,000 alumni residing in 143 countries.