25 July – 8 August 2019

Media coverage on Ebola outbreak and vaccine

LSHTM and partners have begun a two-year trial among healthcare and frontline workers in Uganda to assess the immune response generated by an investigational Ebola vaccine. The news was covered by over 400 media outlets including Associated Press, Reuters, Voice of America, Time, Washington Post, New York Times, ABC, The Conversation Africa and BBC.

Peter Piot speaks to the Financial Times (£) about the difficulties taming Ebola in the Congo and why international efforts have so far been unable to stop the epidemic. Peter said: “It is clear that the current strategy has not worked. There is an immediate need for a reset.”

Peter is also quoted in by Voice of America and Thomson Reuters Foundation articles about the investigational vaccine.

Director of the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team Dan Bausch speaks to NPR about the Ebola outbreak in DRC for a piece marking the one year anniversary since the outbreak began. Dan said: “I don’t mean to be overly alarmist but I am very concerned about the situation. I think there’s still a risk of this being like the West Africa outbreak.”

Dan Bausch also speaks to The Telegraph about the team’s work in training health care workers to be careful when treating patients where Ebola infection might be present. Dan said: “The risk is when the patient comes into a clinic or hospital and no one thinks they have Ebola. We hear this again and again. People say we didn’t use gloves because we thought the patient had malaria. But we should be avoiding all contact with blood and bodily fluid.”

David Heymann speaks to Nature about the Ebola outbreak in DRC and how violent conflict in the region is changing how scientists handle the outbreak. David said: “This outbreak is clearly a milestone for rigorous, good research, we will get definitive answers.”

David Heymann also speaks to Science about the Ebola outbreak in DRC and his experience working on Ebola outbreaks.

Further LSHTM media coverage

Peter Piot is interviewed by Michael Berkley for BBC Radio 3’s Private Passions. Peter says: “What is key is that we not only deal with disease but with our wellbeing and healthy living – that’s where music can help.”

School-led research finds that using cardiovascular risk to identify patients eligible for blood pressure treatment could prevent significantly more heart attacks and strokes. Lead author Emily Herrett said: “Blood pressure is just one component of absolute cardiovascular risk. The current strategy treats only people with high blood pressure, but that means many people who might benefit from blood pressure lowering treatment are missing out, whereas others might be treated unnecessarily.”

The research was covered by The Telegraph, Daily Mail, Metro and The Sun. Emily was also interviewed by Talk Radio about the research (live link not available).

Heidi Larson is quoted in a piece by the Wellcome Sanger Institute about vaccines and how they save lives protecting against infectious diseases. Heidi said: “It’s important to remember that everyone wants the best for their child, and for doctors and nurses to make time to answer parents’ questions to help them understand the truth about vaccines.”

Kaye Wellings is interviewed by i News about her career and work co-leading the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. Kaye said: “The survey needs fresh eyes. Those of us in the original team have probably said all we have to say. There will be far more on the impact of the digital age – how dating patterns have changed, how it’s much easier to be busier instead of paying attention to your partner.”

Martin McKee is quoted in The Independent about e-cigarettes and whether they could play a role in stopping 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.”

Stephen Evans provides expert comment to The Telegraph about possible side effects of antimalaris. Stephen said: “Malaria is a very serious disease and remains a leading cause of death in low-income countries, especially in Africa. For visitors to regions where there is a high risk of getting malaria, there is no doubt that the benefit/risk balance of taking antimalarial drugs is in favour of the recommended drugs.”

Stephen also provided comment to The Guardian about research from the Medical University of Vienna, which found that prescription medicines to reduce stomach acid were associated with an increased risk of developing allergies. Stephen said: “PPIs are very often co-prescribed with aspirin or similar drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Aspirin and NSAIDs are among the drugs that are very well known to increase the risk of an allergic reaction.” Daily Mail also used Stephen’s quote.

Steve Cummins speaks to The Guardian about a new US study which found a link between the number of fast food outlets on an individual’s commute and higher BMI. Steve said: “There is no single magic bullet. Rather we need to tackle the multiple influences on diet and obesity from the individual level to the whole population all at the same time. Only by tackling this complex system of influences on behaviour can we perhaps start to tackle the obesity epidemic.”

Lucy Platt and Pippa Grenfell author a blog for Human Rights News, Views & Info about why decriminalising sex work would protect the health of sex workers.

Val Curtis speaks to Yahoo about towel hygiene. Val said: “There are very few diseases that are likely to be caused by reusing your towel too many times.”

On social media

This week’s social media highlight comes from the LSHTM Twitter page, sharing new research led by Prof Polly Roy which describes rotavirus and bluetongue viral genome replication in action for the first time.


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