Very informative @jimalkhalili #TheLifeScientific with @neil_ferguson. A thread disputing his conclusion that we face "a trade off between saving lives and saving the economy and jobs". It is so much broader than that .. bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0…
1/n “lives vs economy” is unhelpful, it is not primarily the economy and jobs that are diminished by full or partial lockdowns, rather the almost unimaginable richness of life in all its domains suffers. We are social beings, and a major part of that sociality is stripped from us
2/n Thus we must not think of lives vs the economy, we should frame this as lives vs lives, as Ramesh Thakur wrote with respect to covid in India in April johnmenadue.com/ramesh-thakur-…
3/n Think of the grandparents not seeing their grandkids in person for months, the number of new relationships not started, the number of friendships that have naturally become distanced - and for each of these multiply up by the vast number of those so affected
4/n Think of the current and long term futures of kids whose education has been thrown – irreversibly for many – into chaos. Think of what you enjoy that has been reduced or disappeared, the banter over last night’s match, or how unbelievable that plotline has become ...
5/n Think of the cafes, music venues, small businesses of all kinds, pubs, independent record and bookshops, restaurants, sports shops – whatever it is you value – that you see permanently closed as you walk thru your local town.
6/n Think of the people dying alone (and compulsorily so, before that inhumane prohibition was relaxed) and the time now spent in aching regret by those excluded from these passings
7/n Think of your worst experience of loneliness and imagine it spread backwards and forwards in time, until it simply becomes how time passes.
8/n But most of all think about what it is that you value and enjoy most that has been constrained by full or partial lockdown, and share it by quote tweeting here, so we can have a rich compendium of what we need to put on the debit side of the “lives vs lives” calculus
9/n Adverse consequences fall particularly heavily on those with fewest resources. Conversely, those housed with more rooms and space per resident, with gardens or other outdoor space, with financial resources that can cushion against adversity, in conditions in which home ..
10/n schooling their children is possible, who can work – and work comfortably – from home, who are not reliant on public transport and who are not constrained by arduous caring responsibilities will generally find it considerably easier to adapt to full or partial lockdown.
11/n Hedonics is not an exact science - what aspects of life matter most is highly individual - and thus weighing up whether risk reduction is preferable to the constraints on life will differ between individuals and groups. Policy influencers are largely drawn from those ..
12/n with privileged backgrounds, who have weathered lockdown conditions in more favourable circumstances, which will be reflected in what they decide to tell us about how we all should - indeed have to - behave
13/n We hear of "saving lives or saving the economy”, but in the end you don’t “save lives” - we all die – you delay deaths. Given most people don’t make it to 90 it’s striking that for women the age category with the largest number of covid deaths in the UK is 90+
14/n We need to evaluate the full range of adverse consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection – we should indeed #CountLongCovid and all adverse outcomes, not merely years of lives lost due to covid deaths. But we *must* also count the every increasing burden of collateral ..
15/n non-covid related health damage consequent on the imposed restrictions, and we must also consider the whole range and massive volume of the loses to the lives of the living. For many the goal of life is more than simply years lived and risks averted
16/n As Bernard-Henri Lévy reminds us “a life is not a life if it is merely life”. Let’s hear no more of the endless riffing on “lives vs the economy” – this is much more serious than that: what we face is the weighing up of lives vs lives
17/17 Finally, we should not be in the situation we are in - public health interventions should never be implemented without first considering the full range of their potential consequences

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More from @mendel_random

Jul 22
Great piece by @aoifemcl “The deceptive simplicity of mendelian genetics” in @PLOSBiology in which she says “I could not imagine trying to teach genetics without starting with Mendel” A short 🧵linking to discussion #Mendel200 by @KampourakisK et al (1/n) journals.plos.org/plosbiology/ar…
2/n Mendel’s laws - actually first formulated in the way now taught by Robert Heath Lock in 1906: biodiversitylibrary.org/item/68277#pag… are a useful heuristic, relating to processes that are likely essential for complex life to exist
3/n The random process underlying segregation of alleles to gametes and then zygotes (at conception) (1st Law) and the independent assortment of genetic variants (outside close physical proximity) (2nd law) is what keeps cheating selfish genetic elements under control /cont
Read 12 tweets
Aug 11, 2021
Can cognitive and other non-financial biases count as conflicts of interest (COIs)? COIs seem to be thought of as only absolutely direct financial conflicts – e.g. you receive tobacco industry money (££ to you or grants) whilst studying the health effects of smoking. A thread/
2/n There are many cognitive biases – ranging from strong commitment to a particular theory through to membership of groups benefitting in ways that are not directly financial – that could influence what policy initiative or apparent scientific advance one puts forward / cont
Read 12 tweets
Oct 1, 2020
Covid cases are lowest in places that at the peak had the fewest or the most covid deaths. @dannydorling Tony Brookes and I considered reasons for this

theconversation.com/why-are-corona… Image
1/n The pattern could be a chance quirk, or could reflect testing regimens being related to previous severity of the epidemic, or safer behavioural patterns in areas badly affected, or more homeworking being possible in such places (or a mix of the above)
2/n 2/n It could be that enough people in such areas have already come into contact with the virus that the population is now less susceptible to the disease. Overall, this would imply that the levels of some forms of immunity in those particular neighbourhoods are higher
Read 5 tweets
Sep 23, 2020
1/n As usual several emails offering “acceptance within a week” for my submitted papers. I want the 24 hr European Journal of Clinical Investigation (Editor: John Ioannidis) service for a 27 page paper, senior author: John Ioannidis onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.11… Image
2/n The paper was a method for identifying "highly influential biomedical researchers". This approach suggested John Ioannidis was amongst the very most influential Image
3/n John Ioannidis published a Nature paper on suspiciously prolific authors (COI: I was one of the octopuses) which used an index which (just) excluded John Ioannidis from this group nature.com/articles/d4158…
Read 4 tweets
Aug 12, 2020
Great to see @klarawanelik @Zen_of_Science paper on how ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and social background create barriers to academic career progression has now been published. Social origins under-represented in research and policies (.. cont/)
onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.10…
2/n perhaps partly due to social position obviously being influenced by educational trajectory. A possible measure would be whether parents left education at the minimum legal age of school leaving prevalent when and where they grew up. This would be calculable for many ...
3/n (but not all) people, is stable for most, and could be added to the IDE monitoring data routinely collected. Some agencies are (finally) beginning to collect at least some data on this. In the US "first generation" college students is used, but there is enormous ..
Read 5 tweets
Jun 23, 2020
Below is the start of a thread by a geneticist on discovering that the most extreme single genetic variant he can find in @GWASCatalog actually tells you about the huge importance of the environment in causing disease
ALDH2 variation strongly influences alcohol consumption, and can be used in Mendelian Randomization (MR) studies to demonstrate that alcohol drinking has a large unfavourable effect on blood pressure journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/a…
In East Asian populations where traditionally women drink very little, the effect of the allele on blood pressure is only seen in men (among whom many drink). The lack of an effect in women and the (statistically extremely) interaction with sex provides a "negative control"..
Read 13 tweets

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