Today is Earth Day. Compared to other calendar markers, Earth Day feels relatively untouched by the pandemic. It’s a day typically celebrated outdoors, in our minds and hearts, through our deeds and donations. But as we celebrate the second Earth Day under Covid’s reign, the intersections between human health and planetary health are impossible to ignore.

In order to protect human health, we need to protect our planet. Covid is the most devastating reminder of this in recent memory. But it isn’t the only one.

Our global embrace of fossil fuels, deforestation and industrial farming practices have turned our air…

5 Ways to overcome Covid vaccine hesitancy

Vaccination — a photo by CDC on Unsplash

By Sherine Guirguis, Co-Director of Common Thread

Common Thread puts people at the centre of Public Health. Find us at:

“I’m pretty sure I had Covid last October. I never get sick, and this was bad. I couldn’t go to work for 3 days. I don’t need the vaccine. I’ve already got the antibodies.”

That’s my Uber driver, Terell, telling me why he feels safe shuttling people around every day. And why he won’t be taking any Covid vaccines when they come out. Terell is African American, which statistically makes him 5 times more likely to be hospitalised with…

Public Health Messaging in your pocket — a group looking at their mobile phones.

How could public health use social media more effectively — from adapting scientific messages to ‘flatten the Covid-19 curve’, to using trusted stories to change behaviour and #StayHomeSaveLives?

By Mike Coleman, Co-Director of Common Thread: Putting people at the centre of public health.

We reached out to NYU’s Vice Provost of Educational Technologies, and distinguished internet and social media theorist Clay Shirky to ask him about social media, science and stories - and the role they all need to play in public health initiatives.

Mike Coleman, Co-Director of Common Thread’s interview with Clay Shirky

Our original interview preceded the outbreak of COVID-19, but the messages for public health communications are even more pertinent now, when…

How we designed a virtual human centred design workshop: Four things we learned.

Like everyone on the planet, we were left reeling at how quickly the world changed. For Common Thread it really hit us in mid-March. We were a week away from a meticulously planned four-day Human Centred Design Workshop on ‘motivating health workers’ for new members of the PATH Living Labs team in Zambia, when non-essential travel was cancelled.

By Mike Coleman and Amaya Gillespie, Common Thread: Putting people at the centre of public health.

Was this to be the only use of our stacks of Post-Its? (Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash)

If nothing else, HCD is about connecting with people in their element, understanding their context to co-design solutions that work. But what now? HCD without humans…

Social Distancing Fail.

Watching the Covid-19 pandemic unfold has turned all of us into recipients of the very things Common Thread usually advise others about: public health policy, outbreak response, risk communication, and behavioural strategies. Covid-19 has democratised disease — and people — perhaps more than any other experience in our lifetimes.

By Mike Coleman and Sherine Guirguis, Co-Directors of Common Thread: Putting people at the centre of public health.

These past few weeks have certainly been the most effective exercise in empathy-building we’ve ever been a part of.

As professionals and as citizens, it’s been a fascinating, at-times scary, and mercurial couple of weeks. We’ve seen the impact of fact vs fear-based communication, and watched the ways in which we…

Testing for symptoms of novel Coronavirus

As the world’s attention turns to the threat of the Coronavirus, we revisit our discussion on whether the world is prepared for the next global disease outbreak. The consensus seems to be we’re due a big epidemic — the kind that would fundamentally disrupt life as we know it. A pandemic could affect food supply, the global economy, energy, productivity, transportation, foreign relations, healthcare, and ultimately cause significant death on a global scale. Are we ready?

By Mike Coleman, Co-Director of Common Thread: Putting people at the centre of public health.

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board published its annual report…

By Michael Coleman, Director, Common Thread

It always sounds so easy.

“Let’s redesign the website.” Or the ever popular, “Let’s give it a refresh.” How about, “We’ve outgrown our site. It doesn’t speak to what we do any more. Or who we are.”

Friends, if you hear these phrases running through your heads, I want you to pause. Make a cup of tea. Have a nap. Maybe go for a walk. Travel… try a 6-week trip where smiling people pronounce WiFi, “weh-fee” and shrug lovingly when you ask about 4G.

As a team we have built our fair share of…

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing a bigger role in patient care, in mental health diagnoses, and in analyzing big data to deliver more targeted treatments. And now, with tech that could pick up on patterns in our speech, eye movements and facial expressions, could machines be the future in global health?

By Sherine Guirguis, Co-Director of Common Thread: Putting people at the centre of public health.

If you’ve ever asked Siri a question, been motivated to run by a nagging watch, or suddenly realised you were flirting with a charming chatbot, you know our daily interactions, our access to information…

If we learned of a slow-moving alien attack to poison our air, raise the earth’s temperature, increase the frequency and ferocity of natural disasters, erode our coastlines and increase sea levels, how would we react?

What about man-made climate change that will make life on earth similarly precarious, unhealthy and unsafe in 25 years?… 10 years?

The end result is the same. But somehow, one seems to be a call to action, and the other can encourage complacency, calculation and a ‘maybe tomorrow’ feeling. In the face of catastrophe, individual actions can seem insignificant.

By Michael Coleman, Co-Director of Common…

Common Thread

Behavioural design for public health. Find out more about us at

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