In the news – media highlights 2017

The School’s research and expertise have been making headlines around the world this year, covering everything from Ebola vaccines to young people’s sexual practices, and malaria treatment failure to a royal visit. Here is a selection of some of our top stories from 2017.

The WOMAN Trial: Simple treatment for severe bleeding could save lives of mothers around the world

A major international study, coordinated by the School and published in The Lancet in April, found that a simple treatment for severe bleeding could save lives of mothers around the world. The WOMAN trial involved more than 20,000 women from 193 hospital in 21 countries and found that tranexamic acid reduced death due to bleeding after childbirth by a third.

The study received widespread media coverage around the world, with the findings reported by at least 400 outlets including BBC News, The New York Times, The GuardianDaily MailThe Washington PostReutersNational Public RadioAl JazeeraThe Hindustan Times (India), Daily Star (Bangladesh) and Nigerian Tribune. Chief Investigator Prof Ian Roberts and Principal Investigator and Project Director Haleema Shakur-Still gave interviews across the BBC including BBC World Service Radio’s Health Check, the BBC News Channel’s Victoria Derbyshire show and a live Q&A on BBC Africa Facebook page.

Later in the year, research from the team made the news again when a study in The Lancet demonstrated that major bleeds must be treated with tranexamic acid as fast as possible since deaths occur quickly and the drug’s life-saving benefits diminish with each passing minute. The study built on evidence from The WOMAN trial (2017) and CRASH-2 (2010) – a trial of 20,000 trauma patients. Following a detailed review of evidence from the WOMAN trial plus the new analysis, the World Health Organization (WHO) published updated recommendations on the use of tranexamic acid.

The findings and news of the updated WHO guidelines were reported by The Guardian, The Nursing TimesAllAfricaAll4Women (South Africa), ABC.es (Spain) and Yahoo UK. The new research findings were part of a discussion at a special event on postpartum haemorrhage hosted at the School. AllAfrica published an article that transcribed Her Excellency Toyin Saraki’s speech (Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation) at the event and Toyin Saraki also wrote on the topic for the Huffington Post. There were in excess of 4,200 posts about the results on social media, with a potential reach of 79 million people.

Prince Harry unites global HIV/AIDS leaders during visit to the School

In July, a roundtable discussion with HRH Prince Harry, Co-Founding Patron of the charity Sentebale, led to new pledges to give young people a voice when forming future research and policies. Global HIV leaders committed to ensuring young people affected by HIV/AIDS play an integral part in shaping new research and policies to strengthen HIV prevention, testing and treatment in sub-Saharan Africa. The agreement was made during a special roundtable organised by the School and Sentebale.

His Royal Highness joined School Director Professor Peter Piot and Sentebale Chief Executive Officer Catherine Ferrier, along with other key global health figures to hear first-hand why youth in the region are failing to test for HIV and access the relevant follow-up care and treatment.

Prof Piot spoke to BBC World Service Radio flagship programme Newsday and Sentebale’s youth advocates, who presented at the roundtable, spoke to BBC World Service’s Focus on Africa. Prof Piot and Cathy Ferrier co-wrote a blog for the Huffington Post calling for the voices of young people affected by HIV/AIDS to be heard. UK and international media outlets covered Prince Harry’s visit to the School, including ITV NewsDaily MailEvening StandardMetroDaily ExpressPinkNewsYahooMSN and via the Press Association to over 250 regional outlets. International coverage included Thomson ReutersPeople magazine, TVNZ (New Zealand), All4Women (South Africa) and Toggle (Singapore) and broadcast via CBS News (USA) and Australia’s Sunrise breakfast TV programme.

There were more than 1,600 posts on social media regarding the visit, with a total potential reach of over 23 million people. A short video of the event shared on the LSHTM Facebook page has more than 25,000 views.

Final trial results confirm Ebola vaccine provides high protection against the disease

Generating media interest at the very beginning of 2017, results published in The Lancet from a major trial in Guinea, West Africa demonstrated that the experimental Ebola vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV is highly protective against the deadly virus. The vaccine is the first to prevent infection from one of the most lethal known pathogens, and the findings add weight to early trial results published in 2015.

Among the 5,837 people who received the vaccine, no Ebola cases were recorded 10 days or more after vaccination. In comparison, there were 23 cases 10 days or more after vaccination among those eligible who did not receive the vaccine.

Study co-author Prof John Edmunds was interviewed by Channel 4 News, and BBC World Service Radio programmes Newsday and Business Matters as well as BBC World TV’s Focus on Africa. Prof Edmunds was also quoted by news outlets around the world, including The GuardianDeutsche Welle and via Reuters in the Daily MailFox NewsSouth China Morning PostChannel News AsiaBusiness Insider and Yahoo.

First recorded cases of frontline malaria drug failing to treat UK patients

In January, a study led by Prof Colin Sutherland published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy found a drug which is highly effective at treating malaria and commonly used in the UK, failed to cure four patients who contracted the disease while visiting Africa. The patients were found to be infected with new strains of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Although the researchers could not rule out other factors, they believed the treatment failure was due to these strains showing reduced susceptibility, a potential first sign of drug resistance

A range of UK broadcast media, including the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, BBC Radio 5 Live and Channel 4 News, interviewed Prof Sutherland. The research was widely covered by UK and international media, leading to coverage in over 400 outlets worldwide including:  BBC NewsThe Daily TelegraphThe Times (£), Daily MailDaily MirrorDaily ExpressFinancial Times (£), ITV News, NPR and Voice of America.

Excess deaths in 2015 may be linked to failures in health and social care

A School-led study published in February in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine found approximately 30,000 excess deaths in 2015, with a large spike in January that year. Researchers found no evidence that the rise was attributable to data anomalies or cold weather, and the analysis indicated that flu was unlikely to be the main explanation. When they looked at NHS performance data, they found the peak in deaths coincided with evidence of health system failures.

Study authors Prof Martin McKee and Dr Lucinda Hiam were quoted across a range of UK print, broadcast and online media and Prof McKee was quoted on the front page of the Daily Telegraph. He was also interviewed for Sky News, ITV News, Channel 4 News and Channel 5 News.

The study findings were on the front page of the Daily Mirror and also reported by The Guardian, The Times (£), Daily MailThe Independent & i NewsThe SunDaily ExpressBMJ.comBoots WebMDInternational Business Times UK, IFL Science and via the Press Association to over 130 UK regional outlets.

Changes in young people’s sexual practices over the last 20 years revealed

A new study using data from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in November. It found that young people today are taking part in a wider range of sexual practices, such as oral and anal sex, with opposite-sex partners compared to 20 years ago. The proportion of sexually active 16-24 year olds who said they have had vaginal, oral and anal sex during the last year has risen, from approximately one in ten women and men in 1990-1991, to one in four men and one in five women in 2010-2012.

The findings generated global media interest, with 150 outlets covering the findings, many of which quoting co-author Prof Kaye Wellings. Outlets includedBBC News, Daily Mirror, Daily Telegraph, Metro, Business Insider, Daily Mail, Newsweek (US), RT (Russia), Die Welt (Germany), 20minutes (France), IFL Science and Cosmopolitan (US).

Findings from Natsal also made headlines in September, when a study found that British women living with a partner are more than twice as likely to lack interest in sex compared to men living with a partner, and that a significant number people found it distressing not to be interested in sex. The study was reported by outlets including ForbesBBC NewsThe Daily TelegraphDaily MailThe TimesThe IndependentThe SunMetroNewsweekUSA Today and NHS Choices.

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