21 – 27 March 2015

More than 180 news sites including Globe and Mail and CBC cover the announcement that Peter Piot has received the prestigious Canada Gairdner Global Health Award for “his co-discovery of the Ebola virus, his many contributions to HIV/AIDS research and his extraordinary leadership in the global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, especially in Africa.”

Heidi Larson speaks to NPR about her new State of Vaccine Confidence Report, which includes early results from a new global index to measure confidence around vaccines: “What was very interesting to me was that the UK had the highest rate of hesitancy (of the five countries surveyed). Almost a quarter of parents surveyed in the UK reported that they were hesitant to have their children immunized, though most of the hesitant parents, 73 percent, ultimately went on to have their children vaccinated. It took over 15 years to get back to pre-Wakefield levels of (MMR vaccine) coverage. It’s gotten better, but the issue still hovers.” The report is also covered by more than 60 other publications including Global Health NOWHumanosphere and New England Public Radio.

One year after the Ebola outbreak was declared by WHO, Peter Piot is quoted in the Independent warning that it is too early to ease up on tackling the outbreak: “Nobody knows how long the end will be… You can say it’s the last mile, but the last mile sometimes can take a hundred miles, as we’ve seen with polio eradication, for example… All previous epidemics, except this one, occurred in Central Africa. It’s likely it will pop up again there, but now also in West Africa; maybe because there’s a population explosion, there may be more intense contacts with these bats. But it’s likely that it will happen again. That’s why it is still worthwhile to invest in vaccine and therapeutic development, even if cases are going down in West Africa.” He is also quoted in Argentinian Newspaper, Perfil.

Kaye Wellings appears on BBC Radio 4’s Inside Health (from 28 secs) to answer a listener question about sex education: “Young people entering their sixteenth year – just under a third of them are sexually active (31%), over two thirds are not, but young people themselves think it’s that majority, when we ask them, they think two thirds have had sex before 16… they think it’s the norm. Of course that’s a very strong pointer for staff teaching sex education to re-establish the norms in line with what’s happening in the everyday world, rather than the perhaps boastful world of teenagers’ conversation.”

Cécile Knai talks to The Grocer about new School research suggesting that the Public Health Responsibility Deal is unlikely to be an effective response to harmful alcohol consumption: “We know that effective voluntary agreements are based on clearly-defined, evidence-based and quantifiable targets, which require partners to go beyond ‘business as usual’, and penalties for not delivering the pledge However, the alcohol pledges of the Public Health Responsibility Deal haven’t met these criteria. Excessive alcohol consumption continues to be a major public health problem in England and needs to be addressed by effective interventions, notably those which change the market environment to make alcohol less available and more expensive. We hope our evaluation will contribute to decision-making about how to effectively tackle this problem.”Also covered by the BMJ.

Following the decline in Ebola cases in Liberia, Peter Smith talks to Science Magazine about discussions around moving a vaccine study from Liberia to Guinea, where another vaccine trial is already taking place: “My conclusion is that it would not be feasible to successfully run both trials in Guinea at the same time (unless there is a radical change in the epidemiology of the disease in Guinea and disease incidence rates increase to levels very much higher than they are now).”

James Logan is interviewed for Sky News following a Public Health England report warning that climate change could mean more mosquitoes capable of spreading disease in the UK.

Clare Wenham and John Edmunds write a blog for BMJ, looking at how effective he flu vaccine has been in the UK this year, using data from Flusurvey: “Unlike the analysis run at PHE, our data show that there was a disparity in prevalence of ILI and fever between those who had been vaccinated and those who had not. This suggests that the vaccine was, in fact, offering some protection against influenza-like symptoms this season.”

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