Expert opinion

Mr Malcolm Mistry
What is going on with the weather in the Northern Hemisphere at the moment? The main reason is a wind pattern in the upper atmosphere – known as the jet stream - which is blocked or rather stationary. This is causing very hot, dry conditions over southern Europe, as well as southern US, north Africa and parts of Asia. In the UK it’s bringing cooler, wetter weather. At the same time, El Nino – a weather phenomenon which brings warmer sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific roughly every 3-7 years – arrived in 2023.
As clinical researchers, we are motivated by knowing that the type of work and research we do can ultimately make a positive impact on our global health. We hope to contribute to scientific knowledge that will inform policy decisions on the introduction and use of vaccines. We also hope to improve their accessibility and affordability. This is crucial for reducing the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases like pneumonia in low- and middle-income countries, and ensuring that vulnerable populations are not left behind.
To meet the UK’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) recommended to reduce current meat and dairy intake by 20% by 2030. Compared to plant-based, animal products have significant higher carbon emissions and land and water footprints. A shift towards plant-based diets, rich in fruit and vegetables, nuts and wholegrains would also reduce the risk of mortality and chronic disease morbidity, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Miss Megan Deeney
Today, World Environment Day 2023 is all about tackling plastic pollution. This is timely not least as countries around the world emerge from a week of international negotiations as part of the development of a global, legally binding, treaty to end plastic pollution. Plastic is now so pervasive in our environment as to constitute a new era: the Plasticene.
Prof Ajay Aggarwal
The management of the cancer backlog following the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the UK’s major political and clinical issues. Figures for September 2022 show for example that only 61.7% of patients are receiving treatment within 62 days of a referral, compared to 82.3% in the period between April 2017 and March 2018. Short-term public health solutions are urgently required to address current delays in treatment.
Dr Tracey Smythe
Children with disabilities, especially in low-and middle-income countries, face challenges in getting a good education and having opportunities to grow. Even though the United Nations has set goals for inclusive education for all, progress has been slow and planning often doesn't take into account the unique needs of children with disabilities and their families.
Prof Rebecca Sear
In 2022, global population reached eight billion people. This milestone represents a hugely positive story of human achievement in reducing mortality rates worldwide. A couple of centuries ago, life expectancy at birth for the average global citizen would have been in the 30s or below; so low because high proportions of children died in their first few years of life. Child mortality has since plummeted, meaning far fewer families have to grieve children lost in childhood, and far more children grow up to achieve their full adult potential.
Dr Alexandra Richards
Globally, tuberculosis (TB) still causes 1.6 million deaths a year, with another 10 million people developing the disease. We know that half of those with infectious TB do not report symptoms, and that the disease exists on a spectrum that can progress and regress over time if left untreated. 
Prof Donald Bundy
Even before the war broke out in Ukraine, global food prices had reached a record high. Supply chains that had already been severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic were almost pushed to breaking point by the climate-related extreme weather events of 2021. Then, when the conflict began, the price of key commodity crops, fuel, and fertiliser skyrocketed overnight.
Where did the idea of inoculation against disease come from? Before vaccination, there was the technique of inoculation by variolation, in which scabs and pus were taken from someone suffering from smallpox would be inserted into cuts in the skin of a healthy person. This could induce a mild infection that offered protection against the more virulent form of the disease.