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PhD Studentship - How Do We Anticipate and Manage the Risks of the Next Pandemic?

University of Huddersfield

Application Deadline: 25th October 2021:

We are delighted to announce that we are inviting applications for one fee-waived full-time PhD to mark the appointment of Dr Sarah Jarvis MBE as a Visiting Professor at the University of Huddersfield. This PhD opportunity includes a 100% waiver of fees. No stipend is available.

Project outline

The PhD must focus on the broad topic of ‘How do we anticipate and manage the risks of the next pandemic?’, but applicants are asked to determine the exact focus, aims and objectives, research questions and methodology. 

Background

The 1918 influenza pandemic killed an estimated 20 million to 100 million persons globally (Johnson and Mueller 2002) with Murray et al., (2006) suggesting the severity of the 1918 pandemic was in part due to the limited health technologies of the period, when no antibiotics, antivirals, or vaccines were available to reduce transmission or mortality. Delayed reporting of early SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) cases prompted the World Health Assembly to update the International Health Regulations (IHR) obliging all World Health Organization member states to meet specific standards for detecting, reporting on, and responding to outbreaks (WHO, 2005).

A report to the G7 by the pandemic preparedness partnership in June 2021 set out the 100 Days Mission for developing safe, effective diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines at scale. While by the end of 2020, the official death toll of the pandemic was 1.81 million people, it is likely that the real number is over three million people (WHO, 2021a) – 40% higher than the official figure. Even this estimate of the number of people who have tragically lost their lives could be significantly below the true figure – in the Region of the Americas and the European Region, excess mortality stands at about 60% and 50% more than reported COVID-19 deaths, respectively (WHO 2021 b).

In developing countries the discrepancies may be even greater - in the African, Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asian, and Western Pacific regions, for which just over 360 000 total COVID-19 deaths were reported in 2020, only 16 of the 106 WHO Member States in these regions have sufficient data to make empirical calculations of excess mortality (WHO 2021 b). An analysis in 2021 concluded that actual death rates from COVID-19 are twice as high as the official figures and that the pandemic's true overall toll will reach 9.43 million deaths by 1 September 2021 (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 2021). As well as under-reporting at a country level, and lack of testing leading to under-reporting (BMJ, 2021), women, girls and specific ethnic groups may suffer disproportionately from the societal consequences. The WHO report highlighted that future pandemic responses should seek to rectify such disparities and identifies the importance of being prepared for future pandemics (WHO 2021a).

There has been much discussion of the decisions made by different governments in relation to pandemic preparations and risk mitigation. (Ham, 2021). During the COVID-19 pandemic most global Governments issued ‘stay at home’ strategies, social distancing and mask wearing to reduce the spread. However, there were huge differences in availability of test and trace capabilities and personal protective equipment, as well as challenges caused by lack of support to allow people to isolate when identified (Ham, 2021).

There has also been concern about the knock-on impact of the pandemic on the ability of health services to provide for non-pandemic related health needs. In addition, healthy lifestyles, including balanced diets, spending time outdoors, mixing with people, engaging with education, and making lifestyle choices as to how to spend leisure time are promoted to prevent diseases such as diabetes, obesity and to maintain individuals’ mental health.

There have been psychological consequences too, with increases in mental health disorders and reduction in population wellbeing. Research suggests that exposure to epidemics and confinement have been consistently associated with psychological consequences, but changes on lifestyle behaviours remain under-researched (Balanzá-Martínez et al., 2021).

Supervisory team

The PhD will be supervised by Professor Karen OuseyProfessor Ann-Louise Caress and Dr Leanne Monchuk. Dr Sarah Jarvis will act as PhD advisor.

Eligibility criteria/entry requirements

This opportunity is available to those residing in the UK only. Achievement in a relevant academic discipline that equates to first class honours at undergraduate level or a distinction at master’s level. Applicants who are non-native users of the English Language should have at least an overall academic IELTS test score of 7.0 with no score below 6.5, or equivalent.

How to apply

Contact Professor Karen Ousey to discuss project outlines and your proposed project. Read more. (link: research.hud.ac.uk/research-degrees/researchscholarships/schoolofhumanandhealthsciencesscholarships/jarvisphd/howtoapply)

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Huddersfield
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 6th August 2021
Closes: 25th October 2021
 
   
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