From a universal flu vaccine that could save us from a pandemic, to vaccines that target ticks and mosquitoes, Horizon looks at the science of vaccines during the month of February.
The bacteria that causes TB infects over a quarter of the world’s population, and we speak to the European scientists who are closing in on a vaccine for the disease that could save millions of lives.
We also look at the rise of measles and mumps as a result of fears over the MMR vaccination – and interview researchers who are collecting information to try to prevent unnecessary future vaccine scares.
The rise of alternative health practices and a quest for purity can partly explain the falling confidence in vaccines which is driving outbreaks of preventable diseases such as measles, according to Heidi Larson, professor of anthropology, risk and decision medicine at the UK’s London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She is working to understand the causes of vaccine hesitancy in order to devise ways of rebuilding trust.
The fight against poverty-related diseases is gaining ground as scientists prepare trials of vaccines for hookworm, leishmaniasis and other parasitic diseases common in the developing world, thanks to the support of public research funding.
The days when measles was a killer disease affecting thousands are firmly in the past thanks to mass immunisations. However, a fall in vaccination rates means the disease is starting to make an unwelcome comeback in Europe – and European scientists have found a way to help.
When an outbreak strikes, speed is critical. Health workers must act quickly not only to contain and treat an emerging or re-emerging disease, but also to use this window to evaluate potential treatments and vaccines. And the challenge becomes even greater in sub-Saharan Africa when you’re trying to develop new approaches in the face of multiple emerging diseases.
This month, Horizon explores the global challenge of biodiversity loss. Many experts believe we are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction, where human-caused factors such as land use and pollution are causing a decline in biodiversity – something that threatens the future of our own species. We speak to British ecologist Professor Georgina Mace about how bad the situation is and what we can do about it. We explore marine ecosystems, where species relocation outpaces that of terrestrial populations, and examine how we can help these environments adapt. We also look into the link between food insecurity and biodiversity degradation, and find out what’s in store for bees – our pollinators. Finally, we investigate the services nature provides for people – from cleaning our water to acting as a carbon sink – and ask whether putting a value on natural capital could help save it.
Nature provides people with everything from food and water to timber, textiles, medicinal resources and pollination of crops. Now, a new approach aims to measure exactly what a specific ecosystem supplies in order to incentivise decision-makers and businesses to help combat biodiversity loss.
Europe’s position on privacy, regulation and competition could be a key way to attract entrepreneurs who share those values but there is still some work to do in encouraging ambition, according to Nicklas Bergman, a Swedish entrepreneur and technology investor. Over the past two years, he and other entrepreneurs have advised the European Commission on the design of the European Innovation Council (EIC), an initiative to support companies, researchers and entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business or scale up their projects internationally. The second phase of the pilot was launched on 18 March 2019.
To protect species, we need to speak the language of business, say experts.
He has advised the EU on its new European Innovation Council.
Species loss needs urgent international action, says Prof. Georgina Mace.