zika

As a part of the ASSET project, the European Institute of Women’s Health were tasked with liaising with local schools to disseminate the activities of the ASSET project. The schools were to have received funding under the Erasmus Plus programme, which is the programme that combines all the EU’s current schemes for education, training, youth and sport in Europe.

January 24, 2017

Ilaria Capua, as director of the One Health Excellence Centre at the Emerging Pathogens Institute of the University of Florida, USA, is very busy in coordinating interdisciplinary research, facing the epidemic of zika virus disease spreading in South America and the Caribbean and reaching Florida. Scientists are testing new diagnostic tests and working on vaccines, but the risk of serious birth defects in the offspring of infected pregnant women calls also for responsible procreative choices, involving lawmakers, governments and religious leaders as well.

November 9, 2016

In 2009 A(H1N1) pandemic, vaccines were ready and could be supplied only when the peak of the pandemic was already decreasing in most European countries, discouraging people from getting vaccinated. Since the disease was not as severe as it was feared in the beginning, the consequences of this delay were not that serious, even if some lives could have been saved if the vaccines were available in advance. Ebola vaccine also arrived to West Africa when the epidemic was over, while a zika vaccine is still very far away. According to Thomas Breuer, however, GSK Chief Medical Officer, in case of another flu pandemic, a better cooperation among stakeholders and new technologies could accelerate the production and supply of new vaccines.

In recent years – mainly thanks to the communicative dynamics of the web – drawings, graphs and visualizations have become a powerful way to spread news and information. Social networks are overflowed by memes and animated gifs, and several journals, both digital and paper, make use of infographic to depict concepts and information revealed by large amount of data.

Lucey DR, Gostin LO. JAMA. 2016 Mar 1;315(9):865-6.

A debate is ongoing if Olympic Games should be cancelled, moved or delayed because of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern declared by WHO on 1st February 2016 on microcephaly in Brazil, which is being proven to be associated with Zika infection. On May 25th, 150 experts in bioethics, public health and social sciences signed an open letter to the WHO, asking to skip the Games, in order to avoid a further spread of the epidemic.

How many ways are there to tell a story and who will do it? In these months we tried to answer those questions by running an analysis of the most relevant tweets and accounts about some key words, chosen by the editorial board, focused on Zika virus and vaccines. We then developed an application to identify the most influential Twitter users on specific topics, according to a list of hashtag we have provided.

During the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) developed an application that allowed people to share information on the spread of the contagion, which proved to be very useful to monitor the situation. Now that the Zika virus outbreak is raising concerns, would it be possible to use a similar approach? Some weeks ago, the experts of the CDC argued that developing an app to track the spread of Zika virus would not be as effective as it was with Ebola.

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MMLAP and other EU Projects

Health system analysis to support capacity development in response to the threat of pandemic influenza in Asia
Making society an active participant in water adaptation to global change
Public Participation in Developing a Common Framework for Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation
Effective communication in outbreak management: development of an evidence-based tool for Europe
Developing the framework for an epidemic forecast infrastructure
European monitoring of excess mortality for public health action
Modelling the spread of pandemic influenza and strategies for its containment and mitigation
Cost-effectiveness assessment of european influenza human pandemic alert and response strategies
Bridging the gap between science, stakeholders and policy makers
Promotion of immunization for health professionals in Europe
Towards inclusive research programming for sustainable food innovations
Medical ecosystem – personalized event-based surveillance
Studying the many and varied economic, social, legal and ethical aspects of the recent developments on the Internet, and their consequences for the individual and society at large
Knowledge-based policy-making on issues involving science, technology and innovation, mainly based upon the practices in Parliamentary Technology Assessment
Assessment of the current pandemic preparedness and response tools, systems and practice at national, EU and global level in priority areas
Analysis of innovative public engagement tools and instruments for dynamic governance in the field of Science in Society
Public Engagement with Research And Research Engagement with Society
Computing Veracity – the Fourth Challenge of Big Data
Providing infrastructure, co-ordination and integration of existing clinical research networks on epidemics and pandemics
Creating mechanisms for effectively tackling the scientific and technology related challenges faced by society
Improving respect of ethics principles and laws in research and innovation, in line with the evolution of technologies and societal concerns
Creating a structured dialogue and mutual learning with citizens and urban actors by setting up National Networks in 10 countries across Europe
Identifying how children can be change agents in the Science and Society relationship
Establishing an open dialogue between stakeholders concerning synthetic biology’s potential benefits and risks
Transparent communication in Epidemics: Learning Lessons from experience, delivering effective Messages, providing Evidence