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Director's New Year message

I’d like to start 2021 by sincerely thanking the UK-PHRST and our many partners and stakeholders for their incredible efforts throughout 2020. What a year it has been— confronting COVID-19 through deployments to the Philippines, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and The Gambia, working closely with our colleagues in WHO, Africa CDC, Nigeria CDC and others, delivering training and educational content online, such as our COVID-19 Massive Open Online Course with over 200,000 registrants, conducting research in domains too diverse to mention, and supporting the national COVID-19 response at home in the UK.
I know it has not been easy, navigating these uncharted waters in times of such uncertainty and personal challenge. Nevertheless, we continue to advance and enrich our integrated tripartite remit of outbreak response, research, and capacity development—a mandate whose importance cannot be overstated. More than ever, I feel privileged and proud to work with such skilled and dedicated colleagues.
I look forward to continued collaborations in 2021, hopefully in a somewhat more normalised world, one that we continue to work to bring about.
Thank you for all you do, and best wishes for 2021


Since our last update the team have been working directly with partners overseas and via an ongoing comprehensive package of remote support.
Africa CDC
Epidemiology, data science, IPC and social science expertise continues remotely alongside colleagues in Africa CDC. We have been able to draw on the experience and skill of our reservists as well as full time core staff on this programme of activity.
Since our last report on the remote support being delivered in collaboration with WHO colleagues, UK-PHRST deployed a data scientist through a rapid research protocol to support a seroprevalence study to estimate the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies. UK-PHRST are working closely with a wide range of national and international partners on this study.
The Gambia
Following a joint rapid assessment on COVID-19 response with colleagues from Africa CDC, UK-PHRST deployed a team of four to support the scaling up of testing and contact tracing services and the improvement of data systems. This was a bilateral deployment in collaboration with the Ministry of Health with support from two epidemiology specialists and two laboratory experts, all of whom have now returned to the UK and will continue to engage remotely.
Team members and colleagues in The Gambia

1) Roland Ashford (Reservist Microbiologist) delivering a training session for Lab staff

2) L-R: Mustapha Sanyang (Head of Rapid Response Team), Ioannis Karagiannis (Epidemiologist), Liz Marchant (Reservist Epidemiologist)

Research projects

New Year 2021 will start as we mean to go on (we hope!) with UK-PHRST research teams travelling to support field work in several countries. In Nzerekore, Guinea, a project team will join in-country counterparts to start collecting oral fluid to test a novel process for identifying potential hotspots for Ebola virus infection by screening for past infection. In Turkey, diagnostic performance testing of a new point of care test for Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) will shortly be underway.

Meanwhile in Kasese in Western Uganda, the study team from Kagando Hospital, Glasgow University and the UK-PHRST has started recruiting healthcare workers to study exposure to viral haemorrhagic fever, aiming to improve prevention, protection and surveillance. Back in the UK, the UK-PHRST data scientist has returned from working on a survey of COVID-19 seroprevalence in the Rohingya camps of Cox’s Bazar and is now supporting data analysis of the survey.
Read more


This webinar will introduce attendees to the UK-PHRST including its purpose, objectives, structure and triple remit. We will be joined by speakers from partner organisations such as DHSC, FCDO, WHO-GOARN and Nigeria CDC to hear first-hand perspectives of working in collaboration. Register here:

What have we been up to?

As part of the triple remit, the UK-PHRST have a cadre of experts available to deploy to an outbreak in a matter of 48 hours, but what does it take to be ready to deploy? Read about our process

Studying health-seeking behaviours provide researchers with an important insight into how an outbreak can be controlled in country-specific contexts. Read about our research in Sierra Leone which investigates the pathways to care post-Ebola, and how this might inform Covid-19 response. 
In The Gambia, a deployment of epidemiology and laboratory experts has supported the scaling up of testing and contact tracing activities and the improvement of data systems. Hear from our in-country partner Mustapha Sanyang and reservist, Elizabeth Marchant here.

Meet the team: Research Fellows



We asked our research fellows a few questions to get to know more about them:

Which area do you research?
M: Education
D: Social science in outbreak response
A: Mental health 

What is your hope for 2021?
M: For the COVID-19 pandemic to be brought under control.
D: To carry on my lockdown hobbies! I’ve started making little things like cushion covers & lamps and desk organisers etc, the plan is to get better at this!
A: To meet the rest of the UK-PHRST in person, having only seen colleagues for two days in months and months!

Where can I find more of your work?
M: Please find all my research here.
D: All my reviews & publications can be found here - happy reading!
A: Read about the first five months of my mental health project here.

Congratulations & welcome!

  • Our Covid-19 short course is highly ranked in Class Central's list of the best free online courses around the world. LSHTM are one of only two UK universities ranked in the top 30. Thanks to all who contributed or joined the course!
  • Welcoming Julie Collins, Public Health Research Fellow, who joined the team last week. Looking forward to hearing more about your work!
Our UK-PHRST Knowledge Hub now has a dedicated section on infection, prevention and control (IPC), based on the webinar series from the Africa CDC. This provides remote comprehensive support to IPC practitioners, healthcare workers, health facility managers, and local officials who deliver healthcare services across Africa. The training sessions were delivered between April and July 2020, so some materials may contain out of date information.
Become a member & utilise these resources!
Visit the UK-PHRST Knowledge Hub
Copyright © UK Public Health Rapid Support Team, 2021. All rights reserved.

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UK Public Health Rapid Support Team · Department Of Population & Health · Keppel Street, Bloomsbury · London, London WC1E 7HT · United Kingdom

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