In profile: Mary-Louise McLaws, COVID-19 Advisor

Professor Mary-Louise McLaws is a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Program Experts Advisory Panel for Infection Prevention and Control Preparedness, Readiness and Response to COVID-19.  

Prof Mary-Louise McLaws, UNSW School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Mary-Louise is a strong advocate for hygiene and social distancing, saying, “Controlling COVID19 requires compliance with social distancing/isolation. Every individual can make a difference.”

Mary-Louise was a WHO advisor to China and Malaysia where her speciality in surveillance response methods and protocols for patient and healthcare worker safety was used to assist both countries during the development of their surveillance system that would go on to assist China during the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak.  She worked with the Beijing Bureau of Health to review the outbreak response to SARS and they concluded that had the city been quarantined early in the epidemic the course of the disease may have change dramatically. She provided the Hong Kong SARS designated hospital with support evaluating the infection prevention and control strategies for keeping healthcare workers safe. Later Mary-Louise was commissioned by the Commonwealth government to review the Pandemic Influenza Infection Control Guidelines for evidence of protection for healthcare workers.

Mary-Louise has frequently and consistently repeated this message since cases were first reported in December 2019. Mary-Louise has reached out to multiple audiences through appearances in public forums such as ABC, SBS, Channel 7 evening news and through all the major Australian news outlets.


  • More information on Mary-Louise’s activities during the COVID 19 Pandemic may be found here.
  • A Q&A with Professor Mary-Louise McLaws can be found here, covering COVID-19, how it compares to SARS and when we can expect a vaccine.
  • You can also follow Mary-Louise’s updates on Twitter @MarylouiseMcla1


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