13 – 19 September 2014

Philip James’s study which argues that sugars in the diet should make up no more than 3% of total energy intake to reduce tooth decay is covered by BBC News online, The Times, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Women’s Health and Time Magazine. He is quoted in The Telegraph as saying: “There now needs to be an explicit revision of population dietary goals as it relates to every aspect of government policy…Vending machines offering confectionary and sugary drinks in areas controlled or supported financially by local or central government should be removed. We are not talking draconian policies to ‘ban’ such sugar-rich products, which are available elsewhere, but no publicly-supported establishment should be contributing to the expensive problems of dental caries, obesity and diabetes.” Leads to over 60 pieces of coverage in numerous regional and international newspapers such as the Sunderland Echo, Belfast Telegraph, New Delhi Times and The Hindu, and specialist publications including Pulse, Nursing Times, British Baker and Food Manufacturer.

Cicely Marston is interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour (from 31m 26s), discussing the need for greater openness in talking about pleasure and consent around anal sex: “It was a complex account that they gave us, and there was a lot more question about whether it was something that they were really wanting to do, or whether it was something that they felt that they should do… Often [the young men] were talking about anal sex in friendship groups. It was often talked about in the context of being pressured, or it was expected to be painful for the women, and it was expected to be something that women wouldn’t want to do that they would need to be persuaded into. Persuasion was a topic that came up quite a lot.”

She is also quoted by OZY about the study: “Teachers, parents and wider society must discuss anal sex with young people openly and, specifically, highlight the importance of ‘mutuality’ — both partners listening and responding to each others’ desires and concerns.”

Adam Kucharski is interviewed by the BBC World Service (from 20min 55 secs) on the challenge of estimating the number of Ebola cases in the current epidemic: “Most of the estimates that are coming out at the moment are based on the WHO data, and estimating what is known as the reproduction number of infections – this is the average number of secondary cases the typical infectious person would generate. And most of the estimates put this at around 1 to 2. This is quite a simple approach, because you’re assuming essentially that the population all mixes randomly with each other, it’s not really accounting for the complexities. But given that we don’t have much data, this is a sensible initial measurement to take I think.”

He also appears on ABC Australia’s Lateline programme discussing how the current outbreak is worse than previous ones: “It’s clear that there’s an urgent need for more resources and support on the ground in these affected areas. NGOs such as the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières are doing extraordinary work, but they’re increasingly stretched. A number of the isolation centres are reaching capacity… this means it’s very difficult to contain the infection, so people remain in the community, remain travelling and this allows transmission to continue.”

Comments made by Peter Piot and Adam Kucharski in their Eurosurveillance editorial are reported by Reuters: “Fear and mistrust of health authorities has contributed to this problem, but increasingly it is also because isolation centres have reached capacity. As well as creating potential for further transmission, large numbers of untreated – and therefore unreported – cases make it difficult to measure the true spread of infection, and hence to plan and allocate resources.” The editorial is also covered by other outlets including CBC Canada, Radio Canada and Global Post.

Peter Piot speaks to AFP about the hurdle of profit motives in developing drugs for Ebola, which is covered by news sites including Yahoo! News and Daily Nation (Kenya): “Until this west African epidemic, Ebola was not a public health problem and (was) a really rare disease. There was very little interest in all quarters, not just pharm. Things have changed now, and two major companies are investing in a vaccine — GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) and (Johnson & Johnson subsidiary) Janssen.”

Peter Piot is interviewed on ITV News about ongoing trials of experimental Ebola vaccines: “I’m pleased that we’re finally testing the experimental vaccine and therapies are working, because this should be the last epidemic where we only have isolation and quarantine… I think all of us didn’t do enough including national governments. It was clear in June or July that this was an outbreak out of control but I’m happy now there is finally some serious action but it’s still not enough. We need a mind shift from containing an epidemic to a humanitarian emergency, and pull all the stops out and support people on the ground.”

He also discusses the vaccine’s potential on Sky News: “Whether this new vaccine will be useful to stop the epidemic, I don’t know. Let’s hope the epidemic will be nearly finished by the end of the year, or in six months’ time. If it lasts much longer the vaccine will be there. But let’s not forget there will be other epidemics.”

Swiss TV Documentary RTS 36.9° interviews Peter Piot on why the current Ebola outbreak is so severe (at 18m 30s, and 54m): “Since 1976 there have been 25 known outbreaks of Ebola, practically all in central Africa, especially in the Congo and Uganda. And suddenly now, the virus has appeared in West Africa, that’s new, and on a scale never seen before. And now there are already more deaths in West Africa than all of the other epidemics put together. I think that the virus has found a very fertile territory of poverty – countries that come from decades of civil war, where there is no trust in what the government is doing, and the health services are barely functioning. For example, Liberia in 2006 only had 51 doctors for the whole country… Also the response has been very slow. It seems that the first case appeared in Guinea in December 2013, it was only in March that the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières confirmed the diagnosis, and it wasn’t until the beginning of August that WHO and national governments declared a public health emergency. So we lost an enormous amount of time.” Also broadcast on TV5.

Reuters also interviews him about international efforts to tackle the Ebola outbreak, in light of the news that the US will send 3,000 troops to the affected region: “It is now up to other governments to equally scale up their support in Sierra Leone and Guinea.” Covered by news sites including Yahoo! News India.

David Heymann speaks to the Times about using blood from Ebola survivors to make a serum to treat Ebola patients: “I want to see them using immune serum on patients right now… It would save people and help provide a definitive answer for treatment.”

He also talks to Voice of America about times when blood plasma has been used successfully in past Ebola outbreaks: “I myself stayed two and half months after the first Ebola outbreak in 1976 and did plasmapheresis, which is what it’s called, on survivors in order that that blood could be stored around Africa. And it was used a couple of times in outbreaks. Then in 1995 in the Kikwit outbreak, again the government decided that they would use serum in eight patients. So they collected blood from survivors and gave these eight patients that blood and seven of them survived.”

The Daily Mail also interviews David Heymann about claims by some that the Ebola virus could mutate to become airborne: “No one can predict what will happen with the mutation of the virus. I would like to see the evidence that this could become a respiratory virus. The virus’s epidemiology is consistent with transmission via bodily secretions and excretions, which is exactly the same as other past epidemics. In order to change it would have to develop a whole new system to allow it to attach to the receptors in the respiratory system. The difference with this outbreak is the intensity of the transmissions, it is spreading much more in communities rather than hospitals, as in the past. The best thing we can do is stop the current outbreak.”

The BBC website records an interactive video about the Ebola outbreak at the School, including an interview with David Heymann: “There are many reasons why it can be easily stopped in rural areas, mainly because there’s good organisation in communities. There are village chiefs and a whole hierarchical system which takes care of people in normal times. That system can be called into action during an outbreak and is very effective in helping communities understand the disease and also how to stop its spread… Now it’s in urban areas where there’s a complete breakdown of the traditional systems which govern communities.”

He is also interviewed live on BBC World News TV on the need to respond urgently to the current outreak: “It’s quite shocking because the epidemic has escalated greatly, and there are now not enough hospitals for people to be admitted…It’s out of control because it wasn’t stopped early enough in the rural areas… If the response is not ramped up, the Ebola epidemic will continue. We must do the job as rapidly as possible. The window is now.”

The Guardian publish an article listing seven things that need to be done to tackle the Ebola epidemic, which uses information provided by David Heymann.

McCathy news company also interviews him about the risk of health workers spreading the Ebola virus. His comments are used on a number of US news sites including the Miami Herald: “Once health workers get infected, they risk infecting other patients and family members. They’re the entry point into the community.”

Judith Green, Andy Haines, Martin McKee and Ian Roberts and other academics write a letter in the Evening Standard to demonstrate their support for cycle superhighways: “Much evidence shows the benefits of well designed, segregated space for cycle traffic. The Mayor and TfL’s plans for east-west and north-south cycling superhighways mark a step change in ambition. Two key cycling routes will be suitable for all, not just the fit and the brave. That this will be done largely by taking space from the carriageway is a welcome commitment to sustainability.”

Debbie Nolder writes about the six human parasites you would not want to host for IFL Science.

Ben Goldacre is ranked as Number 4 in Science magazine’s top science stars of Twitter

Polly Roy speaks to Deutsche Welle to comment on a new blood-cleansing magnetic device to complement antibiotics. She says the method “has tremendous potential” including the chance that it might also work with Ebola.

Comments are closed.