"Even after mapping my bubble, the question of whether or not to go still feels, in the end, like a gut call, ruled more by emotion than empirical data."

A spectacular effort by @fmanjoo to rationalize ignoring public health advice despite knowing better

nytimes.com/2020/11/20/opi…
And yes, I know it's an op/ed, but this reasoning is selfish and misguided (I know what the data says and the CDC says and I know my family is an exposure risk, but I WANT TO). This encourages people to take dangerous risks, both for themselves and their communities.
I know some people will get together anyway, and I'm all for harm reduction for them. But this entire essay spells out exactly why Manjoo knows it's a bad idea but he's gonna do it anyway because...nobody has cancer in his family and he's pretty sure his many contacts are careful
It's one thing to avoid stigmatizing people who are not going to follow guidance to stay home this Thanksgiving. It's another thing entirely to lay out a roadmap for people to opt out of considering evidence-based public health guidance entirely.
This is a terrible piece that implicitly recommends basing decisions on your safety and the safety of your family and community on "gut feelings" rather than "empirical evidence." I can't condemn the message this sends forcefully enough.
*oops, used entirely twice. Shows how emphatically I dislike this piece.

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More from @angie_rasmussen

18 Nov
A1. There are tests that detect the virus directly as well as serological tests that detect antibodies to the virus. Diagnostic tests include RT-PCR, which detects the genetic material of the virus, and antigen tests, which detect viral proteins.
A1 (cont). The PCR test is both sensitive and specific, meaning there is a low rate of false positives and negatives. Antigen tests are less sensitive, but many are still highly specific, meaning a low rate of false positives. That depends on the specific antigen test, however.
A1 (cont). Serological tests should not be used for diagnostics, but they are highly variable in terms of sensitivity and specificity. There are some serological tests that are not very specific, meaning they have a high rate of false positives.
Read 4 tweets
18 Nov
Here's some more good news. Pfizer/BioNTech's phase 3 trial has concluded after reaching its primary efficacy endpoints, and saw a boost from 90% to 95% efficacy. And this press release at least has more information than the last one. What does it say?
pfizer.com/news/press-rel…
-They analyzed 170 total cases from both placebo and vaccinated groups. 162 were in the placebo arm and 8 were in the vaccine arm. Efficacy is calculated based on these 170 cases rather than all 44,000 in the trial.
-No breakdowns for how many of the 170 cases were adults > 65 years old, but they claim the vaccine has 94% efficacy in that demographic group. They claim also that efficacy was consistent across different age, gender, race, and ethnic demographics.
Read 15 tweets
16 Nov
Another week started with good COVID-19 news: Moderna reports 94.5% efficacy in their interim data analysis from their phase 3 trial.
investors.modernatx.com/news-releases/…
While press release remains my least favorite way of disseminating scientific data, this one at least had more information about the breakdown of the data. This efficacy measurement was based on 95 cases, 90 of which were in the placebo group and 5 were in the vaccinated group.
That means that the vaccine doesn't protect against symptomatic disease in all the people who receive it, but it did for most. They also looked at disease severity. 11 of the 95 cases were severe, and all of them were in the placebo group.
Read 11 tweets
14 Nov
Personal/professional update: This was my last week at Columbia. I'm deeply grateful for the extraordinary colleagues and friends I've had the privilege of working with here during both my tenure as a graduate student and as faculty.
I am moving on to greener pastures as an affiliate of the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security. I am tremendously excited to contribute to the crucial work being done at the intersection of science, public health, biosecurity, and policy.
This will allow me devote more time and attention to my role as the virology lead for the VERENA Consortium, based at GHSS. I'll be continuing to work on my ongoing projects and collaborations, as well as continuing to contribute to public health through writing and education.
Read 10 tweets
13 Nov
I'm seeing this making the rounds this morning. I have issues with it, specifically two of the claims.
1. It's never been shown whether re-positive patients are contagious or not. (It has)
2. That 1/32 patients had replicating virus. (Not really)
jamanetwork.com/journals/jamai…
Claim 1. Are re-positive patients capable of causing new infections? Nobody's looked at this.

Actually, they have. Back in May, the South Korean CDC studied nearly 300 re-positive patients. None shed infectious virus & none were linked to new cases.
kdca.go.kr/board/board.es…
Claim 2. 1/32 patients had replicating virus.
Read 14 tweets
11 Nov
The CDC just changed its guidance around mask-wearing to say that masks protect the wearer as well as others around them, presumably to encourage mask wearing. This is notable for what it says about our national character.
Fabric masks are not N95s, which do offer substantial protection to the wearer. Cloth or surgical masks provide some limited protection against larger droplets, and as Dr. @SaskiaPopescu points out, this is variable.
Most of the data for this protection is from health care settings, which can be very different from using them in the real world. The primary function of wearing cloth/surgical masks is source control, and the primary benefit they offer is to others.
Read 9 tweets

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