8 – 14 November 2018

Jimmy Whitworth provides expert comment on rabies after PHE announces that a UK resident bitten by a cat on holiday in Morocco has died from the disease after returning home. Jimmy said: “Seeking prompt care and getting vaccination is so important. In this tragic case the person didn’t get the vaccine in time. One of the messages is that health workers must be clued in to the possibility of rabies. There are high stakes, you must not get it wrong.”

Jimmy’s comments were picked up in The Telegraph, The Times, Guardian, Daily Mail, Mirror and Press Association newswire. Overall more than 100 outlets covered the news using Jimmy’s comment. Jimmy also appeared on Sky News and ITV Meridian to provide expert commentary.

Jo Lines speaks to BBC World Service News Hour (14m 02s in) about how important gene drive work in is tackling malaria. Discussion was prompted after Malaria No More sent an open letter to the UN convention on biological diversity (which is meeting in Egypt next week) highlighting why gene drive work is so vital. When the convention meets next week they will be considering recommendations that call on governments to refrain from releasing organisms that contain gene drives, even in small-scale field trials. Jo said: “Research is about knowing more and it’s by doing it in this way so that the key risks, including those that may be of public concern, will be addressed.”

The open letter was co-signed by leading academics. LSHTM co-signatories on the letter include Professor Jo Lines, Professor Sir Brian Greenwood and Professor Immo Kleinschmidt.

James Logan writes for BBC News about the remote African islands of Bijagos, which provide researchers with a “natural laboratory”. The unique settings allow for study of some of the world’s deadliest diseases, which can lead to development of cures. James writes: “We found mosquitoes that are very good at transmitting malaria and worryingly, we also found that some were resistant to insecticides. This means the most common ways to control malaria – bed nets and spraying houses with insecticides – may not work, meaning an alternative strategy is needed.”

Clare Chandler is quoted in The Telegraph on a new WHO report looking at antimicrobial resistance, published during World Antibiotic Awareness Week. Tracking antibiotic consumption from 65 countries, the report finds significant variation, with some overusing the drugs and others lacking access to them. Clare said: “More active forms of surveillance are required to capture an accurate picture of antibiotic use, coupled with research to understand what this means on a day-to-day level.”

Dan Bausch comments in Sky News for a piece about why Ebola will keep coming back. The article focuses on how the virus is maintained in nature, in bats, which means that it will never be eradicated completely. Dan said: “Bats are the reservoir for various other sister viruses to Ebola. So that’s the predominant theory. Humans can get infected in numerous ways – they can get infected through unwitting casual contact, through bat faeces, saliva or food.”

Sanjay Kinra presents results of a new study looking at the benefits of yoga for individuals that have suffered heart attacks, at the annual American Heart Association Conference. Sanjay said: “While we await formal peer review, the preliminary results of our trial suggest that a yoga-based cardiac rehabilitation programme could improve quality of life and promote earlier return to usual activities. This offers a low-cost and culturally-acceptable effective alternative to standard cardiac rehabilitation programmes that are usually complex and expensive.”

The findings were reported in India Times (content not currently available to users in Europe), India Today, Medscape, Telegraph India and Deacon Chronicle.

Rachel Lowe speaks to The Telegraph about how urban environments and megacities, which lack window screens, air conditioning and have a lot of standing water, are contributing to a rise in dengue fever. Rachel said: “When you have these sprawling urban areas, where there is poor sanitation and close contact between the vector and human there is bound to be a rise in the number of cases.”

David Heymann is interviewed by Raconteur on preparing for the next big pandemic. The piece asks how prepared are we to combat a deadly virus infecting millions around the globe? David said: “We just don’t know where the next pandemic will strike. We cannot predict it. There is also the natural evolution of diseases already out there.”

Martin McKee is mentioned in a Guardian article about immigration, after a London based economist, Professor Mariana Mazzucato’s UK residency was denied by the Home Office. Martin’s comments were picked up on Twitter.

Coverage of the Women Leaders in Global Health (WLGH) conference, hosted by LSHTM

Heidi Larson and Joanne Liu, key speakers at the WLGH conference, are interviewed for BBC Woman’s Hour talking about their hopes for the conference and fostering leadership for women. Joanne said: “Some women feel vulnerable going to the bathroom – we put a light & a lock on the door, it doesn’t cost a lot of money. We must act on things we know, bottom line.”

Peter Piot writes a letter to the UK Home Secretary Savid Javid expressing concern about the current visa application process for international academics and scholars. The letter was written after 17 speakers and delegates from low-and middle-income countries were denied visas to attend the WLGH conference. The letter is covered in a Times article (£). Peter wrote: “Unfortunately, the current restrictive criteria can only deter organisations from holding future conferences in the UK at a crucial time when the UK should be ‘open for business’. Our school is already considering moving the locations of many of our large international meetings to outside the UK so that valued global experts can participate more easily.”

Peter’s letter was also covered by Devex, BMJ, Daily Mail, Thomson Reuters, and Times Higher Education (subscription required), including over 45 international news outlets.

Following Peter’s letter Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust writes in the Times (£) about why scientists need the Home Office on their side for Britain to be a leader in global science.

On social media

This week’s social media highlight comes from the LSHTM Twitter page, recognising the achievements of Professor Sir Brian Greenwood and promoting the Greenwood Africa Award. The new award will recognise the research achievements and future potential of a mid-career African scientists in contributing to the control of infectious disease in sub-Saharan Africa.


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