This is unacceptable. This is what some scientists are facing just for putting information out there that others may disagree with. I have had my share of this as well- being targeted by scientists or speaking up around evidence that challenges their views. 🧵
I've not spoken up very much about my experiences because I've found even discussing this leads to further abuse. I've had to start thinking about limiting the media and tweeting I do, because often when I put out a thread, a group of people respond by subtweeting & attacks.
I stand with Zoe here fully. My experiences with the same person have involved complaints about me made to close friends, and colleagues, suggesting I had misunderstood comments, and that I was at fault. On offering to discuss matters with her directly, I was blocked.
Because she had reached out to people I care about, I never spoke up about it, because I was worried this would put them at risk. But their support has given me the strength to talk about this. The purpose of reaching out appears to have been to make them question me.
The bullying started early on when in response to a thread I wrote where I didn't even engage with them, a statement made about me was that I had put out an example of poor scicomm that she would use in her teaching. I had never engaged with her prior to this, so it was shocking.
On asking her for suggestions on how I should improve my science communication, I got no response. Since then I've been subjected to constant subtweeting by a group of people that clearly disagrees with me on the evidence. But don't really engage on the evidence.
Many scientists experience this - more so women. Unfortunately, this means there is a lot of pressure that can lead to silencing of important arguments, that then don't see the light of day. Questioning policy, or challenging on evidence is not a personal attack.
I've had criticism from people I've respected for just stating that I don't agree with certain policies in public. It's disappointing to be subjected to this, because in many ways I just have two choices - I can either keep quiet & not say anything or just agree that all is good.
I'm not comfortable with agreeing with policies that I don't feel are not grounded in current evidence. I have considered limiting the media I do, but I feel that doing this would mean yet another voice lost because of the pressure to not speak up that so many of us are feeling.
I'm just one person reporting this - but there are many scientists being subjected to the same. I think it's important to speak up about this, because I'm really worried about the impact this is having - on individuals, but also on public discourse around evidence.
I don't know if many people realise how much pressure there is to stop speaking up about some issues - especially when they counter existing policy, and narratives that have been built up by members of the scientific community over time who are now deeply invested in these.
Many reasonable and important voices are being silenced. And it's important to call this out, and speak up about our experiences to bring this into the open. Thank you Zoe for this- it takes a lot of guts to discuss this openly. I hope this will open the space for others to do so

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More from @dgurdasani1

23 Feb
We've heard repeatedly that teachers are not at higher risk of infection. Data out from the ONS today on risk of infection by occupation from Sep-Jan adjusted for several factors- there is a continuum, with teaching professions at 4th highest risk among 25 occupations. Thread.
Although they are ranked 4th, this doesn't mean that their risk is statistically significantly greater than the remaining 21 occupations (as there is a lot of uncertainty around estimates, which is shown with the intervals on top of each bar). We need more data to examine this.
Estimates are adjusted for age, sex, household size, ability to distance at work, face covering, working from home. Despite uncertainty present around estimates, strong evidence that risk in teachers statistically significantly higher than 6 other groups (dark green SEH cells).
Read 7 tweets
18 Feb
Brief thread to debunk the repeated claims we hear about transmission not happening 'within school walls', infection in school children being 'a reflection of infection from the community', and 'primary school children less likely to get infected and contribute to transmission'.
I've heard a lot of scientists claim these three - including most recently the chief advisor to the CDC, where the claim that most transmission doesn't happen within the walls of schools. There is strong evidence to rebut this claim. Let's look at this.

Let's look at the trends of infection in different age groups in England first- as reported by the ONS. Being a random survey of infection in the community, this doesn't suffer from the biases of symptom-based testing, particularly important in children who are often asymptomatic
Read 19 tweets
16 Feb
Modelling preprint from LSHTM published showing that in almost all scenarios, opening schools at this point in England without additional mitigation results in R rising above 1, and exponential rises in cases resuming. Short thread
First, these results are unsurprising given that in our last lockdown in November, new variant cases were rising with an R of 1.45 even during lockdown, but while schools were open. This is the best comparator given the new variant is now dominant across England.
In almost all scenarios R rises above 1 (we are at ~0.8 or so now) when opening primary or secondary schools or both.
Read 6 tweets
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
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
Read 4 tweets

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