I find it a little amusing that because I'm a microbiologist who specialises in research involving bacteria some people think I'm unqualified to talk about viruses. My employer doesn't think so & is happy for me to teach virology. Also, my undergraduate degree covered both.
But what makes it more amusing, is that compared to bacteria, viruses are pretty simple. Yes, there are differences in their genetic material, but that's nothing compared to how complex bacteria are.
And over my career I've worked on loads of different bacteria - intracellular, extracellular, Gram-positive, Gram-negative, Gram-don't-give-a-flying-fuck. Over the last few years, I've also started working with fungi. Holy shit, are they a law unto themselves.
Think of it this way: A virus is like a piece of software that needs to be loaded onto the hardware (a cell) to run. Bacteria are both software & hardware. I'm someone who not only studies software & hardware but haven't just limited myself to one hardware - I'm Android & iPhone!

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More from @SiouxsieW

6 Sep
Ok, here's a thread about my academic career for those who need it. The first stepping stone was a BSc at the University of Edinburgh in medical microbiology (microbes that cause disease in humans). I graduated with a First-class Honours degree. I went straight on to do a PhD. 1/
I loved Edinburgh & wanted to stay, so took a PhD project with a supervisor at Edinburgh Napier University. It was co-supervised by someone at a government research institute in Oxford which at the time was called the Institute of Virology & Environmental Microbiology (IVEM). 2/
The deal was I would spend 6 months in Oxford at IVEM at the start of my project, learn some new skills, then go back to Edinburgh for the rest of my PhD. But life got in the way. I fell in love, though not with Oxford which I found very snobby compared to Edinburgh. 3/
Read 13 tweets
6 Aug
Scientist offers to answer opposition MPs Qs about pandemic
Said party's supporters replies summarised:
1) scientist just "trying to keep her 6 chins in the limelight"
2) scientist will report back to the other parties
3) why would they listen to that scientist? she's a joke
Replies continued....
4) "woke political hitjob"
5) your facts keep changing! (they say this like its a bad thing...)
6) scientist is a paid shill
Replies keep coming... I’m going to make a bingo card!
7)”would rather listen to my dog”
8) THERE IS NO PANDEMIC
9) hydroxychloroquine
10) why would they listen to you when they have [Plan B people]
Read 7 tweets
1 Aug
Ok, quick summary of the 3 covid-19 cases that you’ll have seen reported in the media as potentially suggesting community transmission is happening in NZ... 1/n
So the South Korean case... could be an indication of community transmission though no close contacts have tested positive or person could have picked up virus while travelling between NZ & SK. 2/n
Australia case #1: person was travelling to Sydney from Los Angeles, via Auckland. Not an indication of community transmission. All others on LA-Auckland flight will be in managed quarantine 3/n
Read 5 tweets
8 Jun
As many of you know, I’ve been subjected to quite a bit of abuse and trolling for doing #scicomm during this pandemic. I want to tell you about one of the oddest things about me that seems to have become part of some conspiracy narrative. 1/n
So if you didn’t know, I’m a scientist & head up a research lab called the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab. We make nasty bacteria glow in the dark to try to find new antibiotics & understand more about how some bacteria spread between their hosts 2/n
The way we make our bacteria glow is by engineering them with the genes that naturally glowing creatures, like fireflies/lightening bugs, use to make light. We most commonly use the genes from glowing bacteria that live in the guts of microscopic worms 3/n
Read 10 tweets
6 Jun
Oh yay. A “businessman and investor” who is a “lover of mathematics with an interest in all science” claims to be writing a book or even books to bring “into full light’ my & others “professional culpability” for the “economic damage” & “resultant deaths” of NZ’s lockdown 1/n
If it’s not clear already, this businessman and investor is a follower of the Plan B group & suggests I go down the hall to look at a certain colleague’s graphs because said colleague can obviously science properly & I can’t 2/n
If I’m following this businessman’s maths & science correctly he’s concluded that the virus responsible for COVID-19 is benign because everyone who has died would have died anyway. There’s plenty of global evidence that’s not true but why would he let that get in the way? 3/n
Read 6 tweets
31 Mar
ok, so lots of people are asking for data to support why I don't think people should listen to the reckons of the epidemiologist who says we "don't want to squash a flea with a sledgehammer and bring the house down". Here's a thread.
He used the case-fatality rate (CFR) of the Diamond Princess (that most people think is unrealistically low) to give us 0.125% when applied across NZ's population. Using a more realistic estimate based on~70,000 cases and ~3,000 deaths we get 0.88% (medrxiv.org/content/10.110…)
When he says"A recent analysis of deaths in Italy..." he's referring to a 2-week old report that only 3 out of 355 deaths had no serious comorbidities. Italy now has over 11,591 deaths - this is some serious cherry-picking.
Read 9 tweets

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