25 – 31 October 2014

Ebola media coverage:

Peter Piot visits Hong Kong and Tokyo, where he discusses the risk of Ebola cases in Asia. In a Science Magazine interview he says: There are thousands of Chinese workers in Africa now. It is not impossible that one of them will [become infected with Ebola and] go to China. China is quite vulnerable. In public hospitals in China, the level of infection control is very poor. It has gotten better thanks to the experience with SARS. Another bit of good news is that until the SARS epidemic, China was not very open about epidemics. Today that is very different. So, there is good and bad news. But there is clearly a risk.”

His comments at press conferences during his visit lead to international coverage, making the front pages of the Oriental Daily News and Apple Daily, and articles in numerous other Chinese and international publications including: Bloomberg, South China Morning Post, Daily Mail, China.org, Xinhua News, People’s Daily, Economic Times (India), Time magazine, International Business Times, The Hindu and Yahoo News.

David Mabey speaks to BBC More or Less (from 4mins), contrasting the effectiveness of Canadian airport screenings for SARS in 2003 to the current Ebola outbreak: “Overall, of more than a million people screened, not one case of SARS was found. The cost of this exercise was 17m Canadian dollars ($15m, £9.4m)”. Also reported in a BBC website article.

Ruth McNerney comments in New Scientist and The Week on the use of a biological litmus paper to test for Ebola: “Potentially, it’s wonderful, but it’s one thing to do it in the lab and quite another to manufacture it up to the standards required for it to work in real situations.”

David Mabey talks to the Wall Street Journal about the chances that a doctor in New York infected with Ebola would have spread the virus to others: “According to the epidemiological data from various outbreaks in Africa, there’s no well-documented record of someone getting sick unless they had close contact with someone who was sick and therefore showing symptoms.”

Peter Piot is quoted by The Guardian on the possibility that Ebola could become less virulent and more infectious: “From the perspective of a virus, it isn’t desirable for its host, within which the pathogen hopes to multiply, to die so quickly. It would be much better for the virus to allow us to stay alive longer… A mutation that would allow Ebola patients to live a couple of weeks longer is certainly possible.”

Comments from Peter Piot on the potential risk of Ebola for India are covered by publications including The Hindu and Live Mint: “In India, with its huge population and urban centres very densely packed, it could pose a challenge if any cases did arrive, as it is harder to isolate patients and trace their contacts for observation. Lack of adequate sanitation is also a problem in parts of the country. These elements could make containing Ebola cases more challenging than in some other countries.”

Huffington Post and Russia Today feature footage taken in 1976 of scientists including Peter Piot investigating the first known Ebola outbreak in what is now DRC.

Ron Behrens is interviewed on Russia Today, about measures to combat the spread of Ebola.

A School podcast interview with Peter Piot is featured on the Voice of America news website.

John Edmunds and Adam Kucharski are credited in an expert Q & A with The Adventure Medic on the Ebola virus.

Other media coverage:

David Heymann speaks to Radio Four’s Today Programme (at 2 hrs 37 mins 15 secs) about the controversial use of antibiotics in agriculture and its contribution to antibiotic resistance: “There’s already been great progress in decreasing use of antibiotics in the animal sector… When infections do occur in animals they are treated on a case by case basis, and sometimes antibiotics are used in herds or flocks around infected animals to prevent infection in other animals as well.”

David Lawson is interviewed on Arise News about his study of the Maasai people of Tanzania, which compared their health to that of neighbouring ethic groups: “We found that 60% of Maasai children are stunted, which means they achieve low height for their age, which is a marker of chronic malnutrition. That has very well studied negative implications for later health.”

David Lawson also speaks to SABC Radio (South Africa): “One of the interesting findings was that the Maasai were not disadvantaged across all the measures… We found that Maasai children actually had fewer recorded cases of malaria and worm infections in children, and that might actually be because living in some of the drier areas could carry some advantages.” The research is also covered in specialist publications including Medical Xpress, Science Codex and Science Newsline.

Brian Greenwood is profiled on Guardian Global Development Professionals Network talking about his work as a tropical medicine researcher in the developing world:  “When working in research in a developing country, you get a lot more responsibility at a younger age. When I was a research director in the Gambia, for example, I had no experience of how to manage people. I wish I’d known that you do need to get some support, and good preparation for the job is very important.”

Research into sanitation in India, supported by the School and published earlier in the month, features in the New York Times this week.

Ben Goldacre talks to Newsnight about the importance of evidence-based government policy (from 6 mins 45 secs): “What I’d like to see politicians say more often is actually not: ‘here’s some evidence that I have I’ve distorted and cherry picked’ but rather: ‘I don’t know what’s going to work – I’ve got some very good ideas, I know what I want to achieve, and I’m going to run some clearly designed, randomised trials to find out if my idea does achieve its stated objective or not’.”

Anna Goodman speaks to BBC Radio Scotland (from 6 mins 45 secs) about her recent findings suggesting that increased daylight saving could raise activity levels in children: “We found is this effect.. was seen across different types of children, girls just as much as boys, and also poorer children just as much as richer children, children who were overweight, just as much as children who were healthy weight.” She is also interviewed by Brazilian news channel Noticias R7 and the study receives further coverage on CTV NewsThe New Age, CBS, Wales Online, and Science 2.0.

Kimberley Fornace and Chris Drakeley are quoted in Mashable about their work using drones to help track Malaria carrying monkeys: “Previously, remote sensing data from satellites has been used to research the spread of malaria but this can be limited by low spatial resolution… Drones allow us to collect very high resolution geographical data on environmental factors that affect disease.” Also covered by Gizmodo, Gizmag, Malaysian Digest and China Topix.

Sandy Cairncross comments in a CNN article on proposals by researchers for ‘smart-sewers’ which will provide early warning of illness in the population: “It’s a clever idea in principle… It has potential but will take a lot of trial and error to find which results are reliable or meaningful.”

Paul Hayes, Honorary Professor at the School, writes about drug policy for The Conversation: “If we resist the meaningless rhetoric of “winning” or “losing” the “war on drugs”, we’ll see that the broader reality of England’s drug problem today is that fewer people are using drugs, fewer are becoming addicted, and the social and economic impacts of drug use are shrinking.”

A study carried out in collaboration with the Sigma research group at the School, looking at gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in the Caribbean region, is featured in St Lucia News, Caribbean News Now, Caribbean 360.

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