7 – 13 February 2019

Heidi Larson speaks to BBC World News’ Impact programme about an outbreak of measles in the Philippines. Heidi said: “In general the Philippines has been a vaccine-friendly country but after the recent episode with the Dengue vaccine they’ve lost confidence and that has rolled over onto the measles vaccine. Some have even turned down de-worming programmes in schools so there really is a breakdown of trust in the system.” (Online link not available)

Heidi was also quoted in The Telegraph and CNN about outbreaks in the Philippines

Mishal Khan was interviewed by BBC World Service about new LSHTM-led research published in the Lancet as part of a special edition, ‘Advancing Women in Science, Medicine, and Global Health’. The research looked at improving gender diversity in universities. On the research, Mishal said: “We found that women from ethnic minorities are poorly represented in senior positions in academia. We think that there could be some clear solutions to have more action on this. One of those solutions would be to have data on this area monitored and reported.” (Online link not available)

James Logan provides expert comment to NPR on new research published in Cell showing that diet drugs satiate mosquitoes’, making them fuller and more likely to skip meals. This could make them less likely to feed on humans and spread diseases. James said: “There is a real need for novel approaches to controlling insects that transmit diseases. A recent study suggested that malaria mosquitoes do not play a vital role in the ecosystem, and therefore their removal would have minimal impact.”

Oliver Brady also spoke to Nature about the same research. Oliver said: “The team would also need to work out how to lure the mosquitoes to feed on these compounds, without also attracting other insects such as butterflies. That’s one major barrier to using this type of technique in the wild.”

Stephen Evans is quoted in The Times (£) on new research which shows that the contraceptive pill can impair a woman’s ability to read other people’s emotions and may affect her close relationships. Stephen said: “The study cannot guarantee that the women in the two groups were similar except for their use of contraception. It was possible that the women using the Pill were in very different life situations”.

Andrew Bastawrous provides expert comment to the BBC on smartphone technology and how it is now a valuable tool in diagnosing disease around the world. Andrew said: “The main advantage of a smartphone is that it has huge computational power, a high-resolution screen, excellent cameras and is, importantly, connected and available worldwide.”

Val Curtis speaks to The Guardian about the importance of handwashing, after an American news host claimed to have not washed his hands for 10 years. Val said: “Hands are the most important vector of infectious diseases. If this guy goes to the toilet and then doesn’t wash his hands any disease-causing microbes that he is carrying will be transmitted to the surfaces he touches afterwards. It is antisocial not to wash hands and it puts other people at risk of sickness. This is not an etiquette issue, it is a moral issue.”

Martin McKee is quoted in the Daily Mail about the dangers of heat-not-burn e-cigarettes after new research found that they may cause similar lung damage as traditional cigarettes.  Martin said: “There is need for considerable caution when it comes to heat-not-burn products, although their impact is not fully understood. E-cigarettes are often presented as safer than cigarettes because they also deliver nicotine but contain no tar, the cause of lung cancer. But they contain many things not found in conventional cigarettes.” Martin’s comments were also picked up by the Metro.

A letter Martin wrote to The Telegraph on Brexit was published (see below)

Sally Bloomfield provides comment to the Daily Mail about why sharing earphones can spread germs. Sally said: “If you constantly shove something in your ear, it can cause damage to the skin and this increases your risk of infections if the bacteria get under the skin.”

Rachel Lowe is interviewed for a piece about how the Erasmus programme helped advance her career. Erasmus is a Higher Education exchange programme for students, teachers and institutions run by the British Council.

Richard Clarke, a PhD researcher at LSHTM features on a Science Disrupt podcast about vaccines and tackling viral misinformation. Richard said: “If a rumour is spreading and causing a dip in vaccine uptake it can sometimes be necessary to find community leaders to communication your message for you.”

On social media

This week’s social media highlight comes from the LSHTM twitter account shared on 11 February for Women in Science Day.

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