27 June – 3 July 2019

Peter Piot speaks to the Financial Times (£) about the Ebola outbreak in DRC and the potential deployment of a new experimental vaccine. Peter said: “This epidemic is extraordinarily difficult to control and we need to use every tool we have.”

Dan Bausch speaks to Science about how the Merck vaccine currently being used in DRC is helping the outbreak. Dan said: “The vaccine is probably one of the major factors that have kept this a smouldering outbreak rather than an explosive one.”

Laura Cornelsen is quoted by the Financial Times (£) on the impact of the sugar tax and whether it has been successful in helping to tackle obesity. The piece comes after Boris Johnson pledges to review the impact of ‘sin taxes’ if he becomes Prime Minister, amid debate about whether fiscal policy is effective in changing human behaviour. Laura said: “There is a great deal of emerging evidence from countries where such measures have been implemented that it does change behaviour, reducing purchases of these products. There is not a lot of evidence that people are switching to products that are equally unhealthy.”

Seb Funk is interviewed by Nature about his work using mathematical models of infectious disease to build statistical predictions of how Ebola spread during the 2014 Ebola outbreak.   

Mark Jit provides expert comment on a new study published in The Lancet, which showed that HPV vaccination programmes have had a substantial impact in reducing HPV infections and precancerous lesions. Mark said: “If we are to realise the dream of eliminating cervical cancer, then we will need to ensure that our limited supplies of vaccines are prioritised to the countries that need them the most.”

Mark’s comments were picked up by The Times (£) and The Guardian

Tom Shakespeare is quoted by The Independent as families of children with special educational needs launch a High Court challenge against the government. They say funding cuts have meant councils are unable to meet their legal obligation to provide education and support to young people with special needs and disabilities. Tom said: “These actions that we are protesting are in violation of human rights. Disabled children do not have human rights in this country.”

Heidi Larson speaks to BBC World Service’s ‘Discovery’ programme about how vulnerable people are if they do not get vaccinated. Heidi said: “It is very rare that any individual or group is against all vaccines, it is usually that they have a particular issue about an ingredient or a particular vaccine and most will absolutely disagree they are anti-vaccine. They just want better vaccines or safer vaccines, it is very nuanced and it doesn’t take a majority to instil doubt and anxiety.”

Martin McKee is quoted by i News after San Francisco has become the first US city to ban the sale and delivery of e-cigarettes and vapes. Responding to the news, Martin said: “The nicotine in e-cigarettes is not a harmless drug and then there are all these other things such as flavourings that are inhaled. We haven’t had e-cigarettes for long enough to know the true effects. But when we look at the evidence we do have, there are enough grounds for serious concerns.”

Martin also speaks to QRIUS about e-cigarettes, for a piece exploring whether they can help smokers make the switch and stop smoking for good. Martin said: “England is a complete outlier when you look at the international scene. Vaping is safer than smoking, but this does not justify its promotion until we know more.”

Francesca Harris is interviewed by The Hindu Business Line about the trade of selling cereals. Francesca said: “The States that are producing and exporting dominant cereals such as paddy and wheat are, in fact, technically ‘exporting’ their scarce groundwater to other States.”

Brendan Wren comments in BMJ news about an invasive strep A outbreak in Essex. Brendan said: “iGAS are bacteria found in the natural environment and can colonise the throats and skin of humans. The bacteria are usually harmless, but if they penetrate into the bloodstream, they can cause life threatening disease including necrotising fasciitis. Although this outcome is rare, iGAS can release toxins that affect nearby tissue and has previously been referred to as a ‘flesh eating bug’.”

Beate Kampmann is interviewed for an Indus Special (starts 27m 15s in) about vaccine hesitancy in Western Europe. Beate said: “Of course vaccination is a personal choice but quite often people might not understand that their personal choice can impact on other people.”

Kessar Kalim takes part in a webinar for HR Magazine about HR automation. An audience poll revealed that  one in five organisations have not automated any of their HR processes.

Alec Fraser co-authors a blog for LSE exploring how social science can help us to better understand organisational change in healthcare.

On social media

This week’s social media highlight comes from the LSHTM Twitter page. Ahead of the Women’s World Cup semi-final between England and USA, we published a video about odd mosquito behaviour in the insectaries…

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