Student Essay Prize “COVID-19 in an inequitable world”: winners announced

19 Feb 2021

We’re happy announce the winners of our 2020 Student Essay Prize, now in its second year.

This year’s prize focused on the current coronavirus pandemic, with the theme being “COVID-19 in an inequitable world”.

We wanted to hear about how COVID-19 is affecting vulnerable communities across the world, from a global, national or local perspective.

The Prize is open to all full-time students studying global health as a degree or any degree with a component of global health. They can be based anywhere in the world.

Incredibly high standard

Tamar Ghosh, RSTMH Chief Executive, said:

“The entries we received were of an incredibly high standard – we want to thank and congratulate everyone who took part.

“We received essays from students based in countries ranging from Peru to Sudan, Pakistan to Indonesia. The breadth of topics was also very impressive – it was fascinating to get perspectives on the pandemic from all over the world.”

The essays were judged by an expert panel, made up of our Education and Training Committee.

Shining a light on longstanding inequities

Mark Tan

The winning essay was written by Mark Tan from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

His essay “COVID-19 In an Inequitable World: The Last, The Lost, and The Least”, dealt with exploring the current and potential socioeconomic and health effects the pandemic has on three population groups: the juxtaposition between low- and middle- income countries (LMICs) and high-income countries (HICs), refugees and displaced migrants and minority groups.

Mark is an MSc student at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine studying Control of Infectious Disease. He is from Singapore and has keen interests in vector management of infectious diseases.

“I am proud to have won this competition. More importantly, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on the longstanding inequities that shape one's vulnerabilities to disease and it is vital that they are addressed as the world sets its sights on the road to recovery."


The prize for the winning essay is £200, student membership for a year and the opportunity to have their essay published in one of RSTMH's scientific journals.

We will also invite the winner to be presented with a certificate and their prize at an RSTMH event.

Highly commended

We also awarded two essays as highly commended.

James Cai from University College London, for his essay “when staying at home is not an option: homeless health in the COVID-19 pandemic” and Tanya Mikaiel from the Royal Veterinary College for her essay “COVID-19: The Great Equaliser or Magnifier of Inequality?”

James is a fifth year medical student at UCL. He is particularly interested in host-pathogen interactions and evasion of innate immunity after conducting research with the Towers Lab.

James said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive this award for my essay. Although it is undeniable COVID-19 has touched upon the lives of us all, it is important we recognise the populations that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. I am grateful for the RSTMH for providing the opportunity to research and reflect on this key issue.”

Tanya Mikaiel is a second year PhD student at the Royal Veterinary College, looking to improve the diagnosis of the different pathogens associated with airway inflammation in racehorses. She is particularly interested in zoonotic pathogens and the diseases they can cause.

Tanya said: "I am honoured that my essay was highly commended as it provided a great opportunity to reflect on the myriad effects of the pandemic all around us. It has magnified the levels of inequalities across society which I hope will continue to be tackled both within the UK and abroad."

Our Student Essay Prize in an annual award and will open again for applications towards the end of the year. 

News Medals and awards COVID-19