Let’s look at how flu actually spreads, day by day during an outbreak, in a defined population, such as a college. While many transmissions are cryptic (and nowadays identified via phylogenetic methods, eg by @trvrb), many transmissions occur via observed social network ties. 1/
In 2009, there was a (limited) pandemic of H1N1 flu. It struck locales around the world, including colleges such as @Harvard. We mapped the social networks of 744 students and prospectively tracked their flu symptoms and vaccination status with daily precision. 2/
Here is what the social network of students being struck by H1N1 outbreak over a period of three months looked like. Infected individuals are colored red, friends of infected individuals are colored yellow, and node size is proportional to the number of friends infected. 3/
And here is how the virus spreads, slowly at first, and then fast, blooming in various parts of the network, in a multi-centric epidemic. (Original video at journals.plos.org/plosone/articl…). 4/
The speed with which people acquired the flu during the epidemic depended on various aspects of their social network position. Those with more friends, those who were more central in the network, and those whose friends did *not* know each other got it sooner. 5/
We used these data to show various things. First, one can use this insight, that central people get the flu earlier in the course of an epidemic, to create a set of 'social network sensors’ allowing rapid forecasting of the epidemic. Our @PLosOne paper: journals.plos.org/plosone/articl… 6/
My @TEDTalks, Using Social Networks to Predict Epidemics, is here: ted.com/talks/nicholas… 7/
Second, we used detailed data about the parallel spread of a biological contagion (H1N1 flu) and a social contagion (vaccination behavior or social distancing) to show how human behavior(s) might accelerate or slow spread of a pathogen: nature.com/articles/srep4… @SciReports 8/
Third, incidentally, this same network sensor method can be used to forecast outbreaks of nosocomial infections (in the hospital network) nature.com/articles/s4159… & link.springer.com/chapter/10.100… or of information (e.g., flu rumors) on @twitter journals.plos.org/plosone/articl… 9/
My @yale lab, humannaturelab.net, #NHL, and its many brilliant and inventive young scientists and programmers and staff, is working actively on a number of fronts to develop tools to detect and combat #COVID19 #SARSCoV2 outbreak and will be releasing them soon. #FluSight 10/

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More from @NAChristakis

Jan 26
College Student Views on Free Expression and Campus Speech 2022 knightfoundation.org/reports/colleg… via @knightfdn
On the one hand: “Just 1 in 4 college students favor schools disinviting controversial speakers, down from more than 2 in 5 in 2019. Similarly, the number of students who support colleges providing safe spaces or speech codes has fallen over the past two years.”
On the other hand: “College students say campus climate stifles free expression. Speech on campus is making 1 in 5 feel unsafe. More students now say climate at school prevents some from saying things others might find offensive, and fewer feel comfortable disagreeing in class.”
Read 4 tweets
Dec 30, 2021
What an absurd, fact-free essay from @sciam which has besmirched itself by publishing this about EO Wilson. This journal should familiarize itself with Wilson’s response to this scurrilous and false accusation in Galileo’s Middle Finger by @AliceDreger
I’d not been paying attention to the periodic lapse in commitment to facts & reason at @sciam, which I’ve long admired, but it appears it’s had more than one such lapse? It’s precisely when accusations of racism and sexism are made that standards of probity should rise, not fall.
Another serious and knowledgeable scientist recognizes this drivel. Have some standards, @sciam. Be serious.
Read 8 tweets
Dec 21, 2021
Let’s talk about natural immunity (NI) versus vaccine-induced immunity (VI) to SARS2. This has become controversial. If you survive COVID19 infection, what does that mean, immunologically and practically (given current state of knowledge and current state of the pandemic)? 1/
This is a SUPER long thread (with recent research) on a topic that has become weirdly politicized (as I learned – though I should have known with anything COVID19-related! – after my recent interview with @SamHarrisOrg ). So buckle up. 2/
I also mention this topic of natural versus vaccine-induced immunity in this 17-minute interview with @hari on @AmanpourCoPBS released last night. 3/
Read 101 tweets
Dec 7, 2021
As expected, early studies are beginning to appear about omicron immune escape using in vitro assessments. We will also have large scale epidemiological studies, which are key. 1/
Leading scientist @sigallab who authored this paper on escape of SARS-CoV-2 501Y.V2 from neutralization by convalescent plasma in @nature in March nature.com/articles/s4158… just released data about immune escape and omicron using South African sample. 2/
Here is @sigallab thread on omicron immune escape: The paper will soon appear on medRxiv (and was accessible on his lab website earlier today). 3/
Read 11 tweets
Nov 29, 2021
There’s a new COVID19 variant that has people worried. Let’s talk about “omicron.” This assessment must necessarily be very preliminary, since we are in very early days (partly thanks to South Africa generously sounding the alarm!). 1/
Three key issues are whether omicron is 1) more transmissible, 2) more deadly, and 3) more capable of evading current vaccines (or, somewhat analogously, whether it evades current antibody treatments or immunity conferred by prior natural infection, aka “immune escape”). 2/
Based on currently available technical data and on news reports from around the world, here is a *preliminary* opinion about these three issues, along with my level of confidence in these guesses. 3/
Read 47 tweets
Nov 15, 2021
More Republicans try to ban books on race, LGBTQ issues. Some want them burned.

It’s fine and good that a novel on queer identity is *available* at a *high school* *library*.

Banning (and burning!) books is never a good look. ⁦@NPRnpr.org/2021/11/13/105…
Here is a tweet with images deemed most offensive. My sense is that having such a book available in a high school library is in keeping with the sexual awareness of most students that age. And similar content should be available for straight students, too.
I suppose I start from presumption that high school students (95% of whom have access to a smartphone -- pewresearch.org/internet/2018/…) can access sexual materials. To have a librarian who has (hopefully thoughtfully) chosen a book is more educational and developmentally supportive.
Read 4 tweets

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