This is irresponsible & negligent- we haven't learned anything from past mistakes. Letting a big wave of infection flow through the UK would mean hundreds of thousands of people with long COVID, and further virus adaptation & spread that may threaten vaccine effectiveness.
We can't count on being able to tweak vaccines to keep on top of virus adaptation- adaptation has happened much faster than we imagined- and is continuing in a way we can't predict. This is the same as the 'focused protection' & herd immunity strategy promoted by the GBD.
We've literally seen the impact of this strategy- which has given rise to more transmissible variants, and more recently variants with mutations that can potentially reduce vaccine effectiveness. We have exported these variants to much of Europe, with impact for pandemic response
When are we going to learn, and do better?

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More from @dgurdasani1

14 Feb
Just an observation that while we're still debating mask use in schools in the UK, countries in Europe are revising policy on grade of masks in school (e.g. France on surgical or FFP2 grade masks in schools). Exceptionalism means we're constantly behind on evidence-driven policy.
In the UK, we've built ideologies around exceptionalism.

'Our children wouldn't tolerate masks' (despite millions of children around the world & in Europe wearing these - both in primary & secondary school settings - without any evidence of harm).
We live in an environment where we feel children are exceptional in that they aren't very susceptible to infection, or don't transmit much, and school environments are exceptional environments where significant transmission doesn't occur. These ideas are not grounded in evidence.
Read 5 tweets
13 Feb
Am going to talk about my experience with media bias around discussions of zero COVID & how this is shaping our COVID strategy. I've encountered this again & again. Am also going to speak about why it's important we consider elimination from an evidence based perspective. Thread.
Yesterday I was contacted by a prominent BBC programme to speak about strategy for exit from lockdown & the role of scientists & politicians in defining this. I outlined elimination as a preferred strategy and provided factual arguments to support this on being challenged.
I was told this was 'interesting', but later told me the programme had moved in a different direction (not on zero covid). This has happened to me before. I watched the show- it was clear that the same issues were discussed *except* elimination was not considered at all.
Read 37 tweets
12 Feb
Worrying data from the most recent PHE surveillance yesterday - despite these data really underestimating infection in children (as they are based on symptom based testing), positivity rates appear highest in early year settings (fully open) & primary schools (20% attendanc).
The real differences are likely to be greater, given that much of infection is asymptomatic in children. Also worth noting the steep drop initially after school closure, which then plateaus to become more gradual after school re-openings.
Infection among children closely tracks school openings and closures (as we saw even during october half term), and level of attendance (trends in secondary schools where attendance is much lower are different). Again in line with substantial transmission occurring in schools.
Read 4 tweets
11 Feb
“If we let variants emerge, amid high transmission rates, that new variant could easily overtake the whole viral population,” @GuptaR_lab

Stark contrast to the rhetoric from JVT at the briefing earlier this week. We need to contain transmission urgently…
Let's remember that E484K has emerged on the background of the UK variant, not once, but many different times- this means that the virus is evolving in this direction. And if it's allowed to continue adapting, through high levels of transmission, it will continue to do so.
And as I've said before, as pressure from vaccine-acquired immunity mounts, we should expect the selection pressures on the virus to be different - it's entirely possible that if high transmission is allowed to continue alongside vaccination, this will create pressure for escape.
Read 5 tweets
10 Feb
The govts quarantine policy appears to be nothing but useless PR that's not grounded in any evidence. What is the point of a policy that allows those coming in from most countries to test and release from quarantine after 5 days?…
SAGE and indieSAGE both advised that we will not be able to prevent import of new variants unless our quarantine policy is comprehensive, given how quickly variants spread between countries. Of course, the govt is still not 'following the science' -
even after we have new variants established within the community that could potentially threaten vaccine effectiveness. When are they going to start listening to experts?
Read 4 tweets
10 Feb
Documents from the 29/30th July released by the govt on the 5th of Feb where SAGE warns the govt about the risk of school transmission on the pandemic. The documents warn about outbreaks from schools spreading into the community. Why were these released 6 mnths after publication?
This document, & another one outlines the risk of increased transmission over winter, including a reasonable worst case scenario model carried out on the 29th July but only released on the 5th Feb. The predictions of this model have already been exceeded for hospitalisation peaks
The govt was clearly warned about the risk of a second wave of infections relating to winter, Christmas & school transmission. This advice seems to have been ignored, and not even communicated to the public until after the event. Why? This lack of transparency is very concerning.
Read 6 tweets

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