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A podcast focusing on the science behind public and global health, and solutions to improve health and health equity worldwide. Brought to you from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
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Currently playing episode

S1E37: World Mosquito Day 2020: How does COVID-19 impact the fight against malaria?


S2E7: Blue sky thinking - using satellites to track air pollution
We hear a lot about reducing air pollution, but why do we need to? Join Amy, Naomi and Karl exploring the ins and outs of air pollution including, how the particles affect the human body, and where they come from. We turn to new research that uses machine learning, satellite data and on-the-ground monitors to build a highly detailed pollution map of Great Britain, revealing exciting avenues for the future of air pollution and health research. Contributions from LSHTM's Prof Paul Wilkinson and Prof Antonio Gasparrini.
November 26, 2020
S2E6: What if we can't handle the heat?
Will climate change make it too hot for humans to live? In today's planetary health episode of LSHTM Viral, we explore the deathly impacts of excess heat driven by global warming. Shakoor Hajat explains what actually happens to our body during heat stress and how that's causing increases in mortality and morbidity worldwide, and Ana Bonell shares a case study from her PhD research on how hot temperatures are affecting pregnant farmers - and their foetuses - in West Africa. Both researchers also explain why, despite the challenges, they are still hopeful.
November 19, 2020
S2E5: What do we know about climate change & COVID-19?
The links between the environment and infectious diseases are extremely complicated with many factors to consider. With a novel virus like COVID-19, there are still many unknowns. In this episode, we ask expert ecologist, Dr Kris Murray, about the emergence of COVID-19 from bats in the Wuhan food market and how this relates to environmental change. Dr Rachel Lowe enlightens us with the latest evidence on environmental influences on other diseases, and what this could tell us about COVID-19 transmission risk in the future. NEW LSHTM MERCH AVAILABLE here:
November 12, 2020
S2E4: Environmental changes and infectious disease
From Africa’s meningitis belt to the link between malaria and rice cultivation, and from mosquitoes in the Mekong Delta to mangoes in Mexico, the links between environmental change and infectious diseases are complex and, at times, surprising. Join Karl Byrne, Amy Thomas and guests as they delve into this fascinating topic. Karl and Amy chat about the US Presidential election and how it could impact America’s efforts towards curbing climate change going forward. Karl is also joined by Professor Martin Antonio from MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM and LSHTM PhD candidate Kallista Chan to talk about their research on two very different infectious diseases that are affected by environmental changes - bacterial meningitis and malaria - as well as the complex interactions between human impact on the environment and its effects on other diseases. If you would like to get in touch with the team , you can email us at You can find out more about the Centre of Climate Change and Planetary Health here.
November 5, 2020
S2E3: Food, Health and Sustainability - Part 2
What role does the private sector play in achieving sustainable yet nutritious food systems? In today's episode, Naomi Stewart explores the relationship between the private sector and climate change when it comes to the production of food, from small scale farmers to the mass industrialisation of plant-based alternatives. Our first guest is Francesca Harris, a PhD student at LSHTM who discusses the impacts of farming on water resources in India, and the ways that academia should or could interact with the private sector. Then, we speak to Adam Cheney, a R&D Manager at V2 - an Australian startup looking to develop scalable plant-based protein alternatives - about the perspective of the private sector and their mutual interest in a healthy, sustainable food future. You can find out more about the Centre of Climate Change and Planetary Health here.
October 29, 2020
S2E2: Food, Health and Sustainability - Part 1
Healthy and sustainable diets are essential for planetary health. Poor diets are a leading cause of ill health and death globally, and the food system is responsible for between 20% and 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. On-going environmental changes are also having a direct impact on food production, and without substantial efforts to adapt to the new environmental conditions, the food system will struggle to deliver healthy and sustainable diets for all. In this episode, Karl Byrne has a chat with Professor Alan Dangour, the Director of LSHTM's Centre of Climate Change and Planetary Health, and Pauline Scheelbeek, Assistant Professor of Nutritional and Environmental Epidemiology, about the challenges our food systems face and what we have to do to ensure healthy, nutritional and sustainable food supplies to feed the World's ever growing population. You can find out more about the Centre of Climate Change and Planetary Health here.  
October 22, 2020
S2E1: Introducing LSHTM Viral Season 2 - What is Planetary Health?
Welcome to LSHTM Viral Season 2, which deep dives into planetary health with researchers from the newly formed Centre on Climate Change & Planetary Health at LSHTM, and other experts. In this episode we introduce the podcast team, Naomi Stewart, Karl Byrne and Amy Thomas. Sir Andy Haines, former director of LSHTM, also joins us to explain how the term planetary health came about, and why he became interested in this area.
October 15, 2020
S1E39 (Bonus episode): Vaccine Confidence
In this bonus episode, we speak to Prof Heidi Larson, Director of the 'Vaccine Confidence Project'. Heidi and her team have just published a 5 year study looking at public confidence in vaccines worldwide, across 149 countries. She discusses increases and declines in confidence, and what can be done to understand these different views in order to increase confidence and optimise vaccine uptake, which will be crucial with the hopeful arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine.
September 11, 2020
S1E38: A modern history of pandemics and public health: Where does COVID-19 fit in?
In our final episode of LSHTM Viral's first season, we dive into the history of pandemics and public health in the last few centuries, from the bubonic plague to AIDS and H1N1. Researchers from the Centre for History in Public Health explore how COVID-19 fits into this history, and how the past has shaped how we are responding to the crisis now.
August 28, 2020
S1E37: World Mosquito Day 2020: How does COVID-19 impact the fight against malaria?
For World Mosquito Day 2020, we explore the impact of COVID-19 on malaria control and prevention. A recent report from WHO says the continued disruption to malaria prevention could revert mortality to levels seen two decades ago. In this episode we speak to Prof of Epidemiology and Global Health, Sian Clarke, who is Co-Director of the Malaria Centre at LSHTM and Dr Corine Ngufor, Assistant Prof of Medical Entomology, who explains how we can adapt current malaria campaigns in West Africa while maintaining safety from COVID-19 transmission. More information:
August 20, 2020
S1E36: Tracking COVID-19 rumours in Africa
COVID-19 cases are starting to rise across Africa. Researchers at The MRC Unit The Gambia, LSHTM, have developed a COVID-19 rumour tracking app to combat rumours and misinformation about COVID-19 circulating amongst the populations in The Gambia and neighbouring Senegal. Social Scientific Lead Dr Melisa Martinez-Alvarez, and Social Scientific Officer Lamin Leigh explain why the tracking app is needed and how it works. Link to the tracker:
August 13, 2020
S1E35: COVID-19 Live Q&A #4 with Peter Piot, John Nkengasong & Sarah Boseley
We bring you our fourth and final live Covid-19 Q&A, broadcast on Twitter and YouTube on the 28 July with Professor Peter Piot, Director of LSHTM, Dr John Nkengasong, first Director of Africa CDC and presented by Sarah Boseley, Health Editor at The Guardian.
July 30, 2020
S1E34: Ask Prof Peter Piot and Dr John Nkengasong your questions on COVID-19
Next Tuesday 28th July we are hosting our fourth and final COVID-19 Live Q&A #4 with Peter Piot, Director of LSHTM, and John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC. Join our Q&A streamed on LSHTM’s Twitter and YouTube channels to ask your questions direct to world-leading experts with moderation by Sarah Boseley, Health Editor at The Guardian.
July 23, 2020
S1E33: Looking back to think ahead
It has now been six months since the first case of COVID-19 was announced in China. There are over 10.5 million infections worldwide, and tragically 500,000 deaths. We listen back to our very first episode with LSHTM's Prof John Edmunds in January, where he acknowledges the likelihood of the disease arriving in the UK, the  day before the first case was announced.
July 2, 2020
S1E32: Controlling the spread of disease with the help of social science
The way people act and behave inside health clinics can impact the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19, TB and Ebola. Understanding how this happens is essential for effective, long-lasting public health solutions. We speak to Alison Swartz, Aaron Karat and Karina Kielmann who work through a 'systems approach' that includes social science, anthropology and epidemiology in infection prevention control in South Africa. 
June 25, 2020
S1E31: Building a healthy and sustainable economy post-pandemic
Efforts to curb the devastating effects of COVID-19 have halted the global economy and left governments striving to repair the damage. As we tackle the global recession in the wake of this pandemic, there’s a unique opportunity to push ahead on sustainable policies for our future. Sir Andy Haines, previous director of LSHTM and renowned Professor of Environmental Change and Public Health explains how governments can put health and sustainability and the heart of our economic recovery. 
June 18, 2020
S1E30: What is the impact of racism and colonialism on healthcare?
As the momentum behind Black Lives Matter and placing social justice before social distancing grows worldwide, we speak to Dr Lioba Hirsch, a Research Fellow  who is studying the colonial history of LSHTM. Dr Hirsch walks us through some of the challenges faced by Black, Asian, and minority ethnic people during COVID-19, what the impact of racism within healthcare systems looks like, and how we can start facing the legacy of colonialism in global health.
June 11, 2020
S1E29: Working to protect our communities: A brief reflection
Amidst the tragic headlines, we look at highlights from our previous LSHTM Viral episodes to reflect on the global efforts to protect those most vulnerable to disease and health burdens.
June 5, 2020
S1E28: Developing a COVID-19 vaccine - are we close?
In this episode we speak to Professor Beate Kampmann, Director of the The Vaccine Centre at LSHTM. We ask Beate about the latest progress in finding a vaccine for COVID-19 and discuss the challenges of producing one on such an enormous scale. Vaccine candidate tracker:
May 29, 2020
S1E27: Is it paw-sible for dogs to detect COVID-19?
Medical detection dogs have previously been able to sniff out malaria, cancer, Parkinson's, and other disease. Could they now be trained to detect COVID-19? Prof James Logan of LSHTM discusses the current research under way with Clare Guest of Medical Detection Dogs and Prof Steve Lindsay of Durham University, and how puppers may be deployed at airports and other ports of entry to identify people carrying the disease. 
May 27, 2020
S1E26: The one that finally got me: Peter Piot’s battle with COVID-19
In his first interview since being hospitalised with COVID-19, LSHTM Director and world-leading virologist Peter Piot gives a personal account of his experience with the novel coronavirus. He shares lessons learned from his work on Ebola and HIV, the role of survivors in the COVID-19 response, and his renewed mission for tackling the pandemic.
May 21, 2020
S1E25: Your questions. Expert answers #3 *Modelling Special* – LSHTM Viral LIVE
Broadcast on the 1 May, we ran a live Q & A session with two of our infectious disease modelling experts, Professor John Edmunds and Dr Petra Klepac. John and Petra answer on a range of topics proposed by the audience including how modelling provides evidence to COVID-19 policy, modelling the lockdown exit in the UK, ideal data sets and limitations of modelling an outbreak. To watch the livestream go to:
May 7, 2020
S1E24: Children's mental health during COVID-19: How can they cope?
Without their social networks and the same understanding of the pandemic as adults, children may be struggling with their mental health and well-being during COVID-19. Professor James Logan from LSHTM has recently co-authored a book with illustrator Lydia Monk to help children and parents cope with coronavirus, and together with child psychologist  Dr Linda Papadopoulos, discusses how to manage these challenges at home.
May 5, 2020
S1E23: New virus, new life: Will this pandemic affect pregnancy?
What do we know about the impact of viruses on pregnancy? Can vaccine trials involve pregnant women? And how has the process of labour changed in light of COVID-19? We discuss all of this and more with maternal and newborn health expert, Professor Joy Lawn
April 27, 2020
S1E22: Anthropogenic pandemic: COVID-19 and climate change
Human health is influenced by earth’s natural systems, the wildlife around us, and the environment we create. The spread of infectious diseases may be linked climate factors and animals, but the consequences can tell us even more about the health of people, and of our planet. In this episode, Dr Rachel Lowe, Associate Professor in infectious diseases and Professor Alan Dangour, Director for the Centre on Climate Change & Planetary health, discuss COVID-19 and climate change.
April 24, 2020
S1E21: Reducing the toll of COVID-19 in Africa: What can be done?
Is Africa the new COVID-19 epicentre? Professor Francesco Checchi discusses his latest paper, using mathematical modelling to look at what can be done in low-resource settings across the continent, and how to protect the most vulnerable populations without the human and economic costs of total lockdown.
April 21, 2020
S1E20: COVID-19 - high stakes in low-resource settings
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting each country differently. Healthcare structures, the government and the characteristics of a particular population create unique challenges that require a tailored response. Dr Mishal Khan and Professor Rashida Ferrand from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine explain key issues that Low- and Middle-income Countries (LMICs) are facing, and Dr Abdul Sesay from MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM describes how the Unit are utilising the latest genomic advancements to trace the virus.
April 9, 2020
S1E19: Clinical trials and international collaborations
Can the world work together to find COVID-19 treatments and vaccines? We speak with Professor Dan Bausch, a physician and virologist specialising in  emerging tropical viruses, and Director of the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team. He shares insights into new international collaborations that aim to harmonise clinical trials and research to end the pandemic worldwide.
April 3, 2020
S1E18: Your questions. Expert answers #2 - LSHTM Viral LIVE
Streaming remotely from our homes, we bring you our live Covid-19 Q&A, broadcast on Twitter and YouTube on the 25th March. Heidi Larson, an anthropologist and Professor of risk and decision science at LSHTM, and Jimmy Whitworth, Professor of International Public Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, answer questions from social media in real-time.
March 27, 2020
S1E17: Is washing your hands enough?
Is hand-washing enough to stop the spread of COVID-19? In this episode, LSHTM professor Wendy Graham joins Prof Stephanie Dancer from NHS Lanarkshire to explain the science behind hand-washing and give tips on keeping clean during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Sam Tweed, a medical doctor studying public health at LSHTM, makes a special guest appearance to demonstrate how to clean a surface correctly
March 20, 2020
S1E16: Changing the way we live to fight COVID-19
The UK's response to COVID-19 has dramatically changed in recent days. Dr. Adam Kucharski, outbreak modeller from LSHTM is working to provide robust scientific evidence for the government and other decision-makers. Adam talks us through the evidence behind the government's response at this time, and shares his thoughts about the outbreak and it’s social impacts long-term.
March 18, 2020
S1E15: On the frontlines of the pandemic in the UK
We speak to Professor Liam Smeeth, who is the Dean of the Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health at LSHTM, and also a practising GP in north London. As cases spread across Europe, Prof Smeeth discusses what it's like on the frontlines of UK healthcare, the value of the NHS, and also shares his recent experiences in self-isolation.
March 16, 2020
S1E14: Your questions. Expert answers – LSHTM Viral LIVE
Broadcast on the 5th March, we ran a live Q & A session with two of our outbreak experts, Professor Jimmy Whitworth and Dr Roz Eggo. Jimmy and Roz answer on a range of topics proposed by the audience including vaccines, current public health measures at the time, school closures, transmission rates and travel advice. To watch the video go to:
March 10, 2020
S1E13: Turning the tide on COVID-19: lessons from the Diamond Princess
In this episode we speak to Annelies Wilder-Smith, Professor of Emerging Infectious Disease at LSHTM. With a team of scientists, she has just published a paper on the success and failures of quarantining the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with their research showing earlier evacuation we could have prevented hundreds of passengers and crew becoming infected, and what this means for other countries and their policies going forward. We'll be answering your questions on COVID19 LIVE Thursday 5th March 12:30 :
March 4, 2020
S1E12: Communicating COVID-19: behind the scenes with LSHTM’s press office
In a special behind-the-scenes episode, we here at LSHTM share what it is actually like to be working on communications during COVID-19.  James Barr, Media Manager of LSHTM’s Press Office, takes us through a day in the life of a PR professional during a global outbreak, explains the critical role of university press offices in linking academics to the media when there is such high demand for experts, and describes how the global network of communications professionals are all working hard to ensure accurate information is being shared.
March 2, 2020
S1E11: Misinformation contagion
Misinformation during an outbreak has serious consequences, but how do we prevent it? Professor Heidi Larson, Director of Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and former head of immunisation communication at UNICEF discusses public trust in science and how this is effecting COVID-19 outbreak control. She also talks about wider issues of public health communication including the role of social media, schools and the introduction of new vaccines.
February 26, 2020
S1E10: Viruses don’t discriminate
There are now daily reports in the media of racist abuse and attacks against Chinese and East Asian people due to the coronavirus outbreak. We speak to LSHTM statistician Edmond Ng and Jabez Lam from Hackney Chinese Community Services about the experiences of London’s Chinese community, LSHTM student Kazuki Shimizu reflects on the situation in Japan, and LSHTM social scientist Leesa Lin looks at the evidence on discrimination and disease outbreaks. For anyone affected by racist attacks as a result of COVID-19, information and support is available at You can read Kazuki’s correspondence to The Lancet at Please keep sending your questions about the science behind the outbreak to
February 21, 2020
S1E9: Prevention, protection, and paediatrics during COVID-19
Can we protect ourselves from COVID-19? Dr Shunmay Yeung is a paediatrician who specialises in infectious diseases, and was one of the first LSHTM responders to the Ebola outbreak in 2014. Here, she discusses personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers during outbreaks, advice for how the public can best protect themselves, and why children don’t seem to be affected by COVID-19.
February 19, 2020
S1E8: The global response to the COVID-19 outbreak
Having worked with the WHO for more than 22 years, David Heymann is renowned as one of the world’s leading disease control experts. In a wide-ranging chat, David discusses the global response to COVID-19, the challenges faced by policymakers and his experiences of dealing with outbreaks.
February 14, 2020
S1E7: Using mathematics to help control COVID-19
Dr Adam Kucharski talks us through mathematical modelling – what it is and its crucial role during disease outbreaks like the novel coronavirus. He also explores the implications of using certain language during outbreaks, and answers a question from one of our listeners. To discover LSHTM’s latest modelling work visit
February 13, 2020
S1E6: What do you want to know about COVID-19?
We want to hear from you! Please get in touch by emailing and let us know what you would like to hear on the podcast. Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with top outbreak-modeller Adam Kucharski and Professor David Heymann who led the WHO’s response to SARS in 2003.
February 12, 2020
S1E5: Coronavirus - will it become a pandemic?
Is coronavirus on it's way to becoming a full pandemic? Professor Peter Piot is Director of LSHTM, founding executive director of UNAIDS and was a member of the original team that discovered Ebola in 1976. He explains why he thinks coronavirus will become a pandemic, how this is worrying for sub-Saharan Africa, and what we need for epidemic preparedness.
February 7, 2020
S1E4: Diagnosis... coronavirus?
How do we diagnose coronavirus? Martin Hibberd Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases at LSHTM talks us through the current tests for coronavirus and what infectious disease experts hope for the future. He explains the typical features of viruses like this, including different strains and potential mutations.
February 5, 2020
S1E3: Slowing the spread of coronavirus
With the first death outside China, what is the potential scope for coronavirus to spread further? Jimmy Whitworth is a Professor of International Public Health at LSHTM with almost 40 years’ experience in the spread of infectious disease. He provides an expert view on outbreak responses through history and how this current outbreak compares, and also answers our questions on face masks, vaccines, and what’s next.
February 3, 2020
S1E2: Africa prepares for coronavirus
As the outbreak evolves daily, what is Africa doing to prepare in case coronavirus reaches the continent? Professor Martin Antonio of the MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM has previously worked in epidemic responses in Nigeria. He explains how the MRC Unit’s genomic sequencing labs are ready to help African scientists respond to the threat of coronavirus reaching their shores, and what the African CDC’s plans are.
January 31, 2020
S1E1: Tracking the new coronavirus
Our first guest on LSHTM Viral is Professor John Edmunds, who specialises in mathematical modelling for infectious diseases. John, who was awarded an OBE for real-time modelling during the Ebola crisis, explains where we are with coronavirus now and how we can use data to control the outbreak.
January 30, 2020