Devi Sridhar

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A nurse fills a syringe with an earlier type of malaria vaccine in Kenya in 2022. Photograph: Baz Ratner/Reuters

Want to guess the most dangerous animal in the world? When my team asked children in Edinburgh during a public outreach event with schools, they said sharks, alligators, spiders and lions. All good guesses, but none on target. The deadliest animal is the mighty mosquito, which kills more than 1 million people a year. Almost 700 million people contract a mosquito-borne illness each year. Mosquitoes carry serious diseases like malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus, Zika virus and chikungunya that not only kill, but also result in pain, disability and prolonged illness.

Among mosquito-borne diseases, malaria is the most deadly. Scientists believe it has killed more people than any other disease spread by the insects in history.…  Seguir leyendo »

Samples are taken from a dead sea lion in the Paracas National Reserve, in Peru, where many have died of the H5N1 bird flu virus this year. Photograph: SERNANP/AFP/Getty Images

Last month a pet dog in Canada died of H5N1, also known as bird flu, after eating a wild goose. Worryingly this follows a pattern, with an increasing number of bird flu cases appearing in mammals who come into contact with an infected bird, dead or alive.

When you see a wild bird such as a duck or seagull, think bird flu. Because it’s actually more likely than not they’re infected with the virus. And many species of wild birds are asymptomatic, meaning that they don’t show any symptoms. The risk of transmission to pets is low, but they can get sick from chewing or eating an infected bird, whether it’s dead or alive.…  Seguir leyendo »

As Sars-CoV-2 has spread across the world, some countries have reacted with alarm and thorough preparations, given their previous experiences with Mers or Sars. In these countries, such as South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam, containment of the novel coronavirus became the imperative, regardless of cost. However, other countries chose to treat it like a bad flu strain that would be unstoppable and spread across the population until some kind of immunity was reached.

Much of the difference in countries’ initial responses can be attributed to whether they “overreacted”, given prior experience with two other more deadly coronaviruses, or whether they perceived the novel coronavirus from the start as just posing a moderate to low risk to their populations and eventually becoming endemic.…  Seguir leyendo »

Amid the constant news on covid-19 emerging from Europe, North America and Asia, one region seems to have gone under the radar. Sub-Saharan Africa had been predicted to be a potential hot spot of the disease early on, due to the region’s close economic ties with China. Yet, for now, the countries in this region seem to have escaped the brunt of the disease, even as close neighbors Egypt and Algeria have witnessed growing numbers of cases.

While countries in Europe have reported 74,000 confirmed cases, countries in the World Health Organization’s African Region have reported fewer than than 250 confirmed cases.…  Seguir leyendo »