30 May – 5 June 2019

Colin Sutherland spoke to ITV news about new research from the University of Maryland and Burkina Faso which found that a fungus – genetically enhanced to produce spider toxin – can rapidly kill huge numbers of the mosquitoes that spread malaria. Colin said: “This approach could be a really good public health intervention. There is now a lot of work to be done before any government would say start spraying that onto cloth and hanging it up in our villages.”

Colin also provided comment to: BBC, SciDevNet, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC World News & BBC Regional Radio.

Daniel Bausch speaks to Reuters about how the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ebola epidemic is inflicting a heavy toll on children. Dan said: “Young children and babies are especially vulnerable. Their small bodies are less well equipped to cope with extreme fluid loss brought on by common symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, fever and bleeding.”

LSHTM researchers from the Ebola Gbalo Research Group (Susannah Mayhew, Dina Balabanova, Johanna Hanefeld and Melissa Parker) publish a viewpoint in The Lancet. The piece shares reflections from the Sierra Leone Ebola response in the hope it will help international responders to rethink their response to the worsening Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Heidi Larson speaks to Wired about Amazon’s algorithms recommending pseudo-scientific documentaries with medical misinformation. Heidi said: “We need to get into that environment with better information. People go to these others sources because they’re not getting what they want in the official sources, or they don’t trust it.”

Heidi Larson also speaks to The Guardian about the need for social media companies to partner with scientists to combat vaccine misinformation online. The piece reports on Professor Chris Exley who has claimed that aluminium in vaccines is linked to autism and has raised more than £22,000 to support his work through a Keele University online donations portal. Heidi said: “The key issue is that the public health and scientific community needs to become more nimble and responsive and be far more present in the social media space. That’s where the public lives and we’re just not there in any compelling way.”

A number of researchers from LSHTM and other institutions author a letter to The Guardian condemning airstrikes on Syrian hospitals. The letter said: Since 26 April, at least 270 civilians have been killed due to Syrian government and Russian attacks while a further 300,000 people were displaced.We stand in solidarity with our Syrian colleagues on the ground who are risking their lives and demand immediate measures to protect their lives and work.”

Andy Haines speaks to The Guardian about a recent report published by the European Academies Science Advisory Council about how the climate crisis is seriously damaging human health. Andy said: “Climate change has to be ranked as one of the most serious threats to health. We are subjecting young people and future generations to these increasing [health] risks for many hundreds of years to come, if not millennia. We have to try to minimise the effects and move towards a low-carbon economy.”

Michel Coleman speaks to The Times about the recent criticism of Amazon offering documentaries that push unproven “cures” that could be potentially dangerous to vulnerable cancer patients. Michel said: “We live in a post-truth society, so perhaps we should not be surprised that platforms like Amazon are willing to take money to enable the wider dissemination of such rubbish.”

Natasha Howard co-authors a letter to the Financial Times urging a select committee to investigate concerns about the governance of the UK’s largest private pension, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). “We believe the conduct of USS valuation over the past two years has brought the scheme into disrepute. An inquiry is urgently needed to obtain the necessary information to assess the USS’s claims, review the conduct of the USS executive, trustees and the Pensions Regulator, and ultimately to rebuild members’ and employers’ trust and confidence in the scheme.”

On social media

This week’s social media highlight comes from the LSHTM Twitter account sharing news of the launch of The Centre on Climate Change and Planetary Health.

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