The Malta Independent 23 June 2021, Wednesday

Maltese medical student co-authors international e-book on Covid-19

Karl Azzopardi Friday, 22 January 2021, 08:53 Last update: about 6 months ago

Rebecca Caruana, a Maltese medicine and surgery student, has taken her locally published articles to the international scale, co-authoring a Covid-19 e-book with renowned professionals from across the globe.

On 25 March, when Covid-19 was still in its early stages in Malta, Caruana wrote an informative feature on this newspaper outlining the experience of a medical student working through the pandemic and what the virus was about. Little did she know that her drive to educate people about the truths of Covid-19 would open her up to an opportunity which would have her recognised internationally.

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Speaking to The Malta Independent, Caruana outlined the rollercoaster experience she has been going through since the day she was contacted to embark on this project.

“I had shared the article on my social media portals and one day, a doctor, who I follow for his informative posts that have helped me in my studies, contacted me on Instagram asking to collaborate on a project he had in mind,” she explained.

The person who approached her is Dr Syed M. Rizvi a medical doctor from New York who sought to write a book about COVID-19 using reliable sources from doctors who work with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Rizvi led the team of authors behind this e-book including dentist Dr Pippasha Khan from London, Australian speech therapist Daniel Hrbolic and Caruana herself. The team was assisted by 10 other professionals who served as contributory authors, advisors and editors.

“Of course, I could not believe that he approached me and offered me this opportunity!” Caruana remarked enthusiastically.

The team started working on the project around March of 2020 when there was still a lot of uncertainty about the virus.

“We spent the first week holding discussions, primarily on how we will design and structure the book and what topics we wanted to include in it. Then we opened our meetings to more doctors to really understand what the virus entailed exactly.”

These meetings were all held online since Caruana was co-authoring the book with international professionals which meant that she had to sacrifice many restful nights for the cause.

“I think the most difficult part of the project was attending these meetings,” Caruana told this newsroom. “A lot of the meetings had to take place at midnight or at one in the morning because of the time differences. But it was an incredible opportunity which kept me motivated.”

 

Through this publication, Caruana and the rest of the team seek to deliver factual information about Covid-19 in order to dismiss any false news that has emerged over the course of the pandemic.

In fact, the e-book takes the shape of a detailed yet easy-to-read guide about the very basics of what a virus is and what distinguishes SARS-CoV-2 from other viruses, based on well-sourced information from medical professionals in the field and key entities such as the WHO and the CDC.

It includes an explanation of the origins of the virus, its spread across the globe, a biological explanation of the journey it takes once it invades the body, its symptoms as well as information on the benefits of preventative measures. It also features a chapter dedicated to how people can handle the ‘new normal’ and go about their day in the safest way possible.

Apart from the physical aspects of the pandemic, the authors also acknowledged the importance mental health during this pandemic considering the psychological challenges that people across the globe had to face over the past year. They collaborated with renowned psychologists to produce an entire chapter on how to maintain a healthy mind and cope with all the restrictions that Covid-19 brought with it.

Another noticeable feature about this book is the ‘Checklist for Back to School’, based on CDC information, which serves as a guide for things that parents or guardians should look out for and inform their children about in order to ensure that the safest return to school (as the book was published during summer break of 2020).

Since the Covid-19 situation is always evolving, the authors of the e-book have suggested that people do not solely base their knowledge on this book and encouraged them to always stay up to date by visiting their national health websites as well as the WHO and the CDC websites.

Nonetheless, the book has already ranked up a lot of recognition both internationally and locally. In fact, Caruana said that on 5 of June of last year, then Education Minister Owen Bonnici and Permanent Secretary Francis Fabri had invited her to present the project to them.

The e-book is free to download for anyone to access on this link, https://covid19ebook.org/, but donations are highly appreciated.

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