The sequences from the Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea were posted on virological, and they are, to put it mildly, absolutely stunning.

The sequences are only 12-13 nucleotides different from those circulating in the 2014-2016 epidemic.

virological.org/t/guinea-2021-…
This suggests that this new outbreak resulted from transmission from a persistently infected survivor of the prior epidemic, which is bad for a whole host of reasons, including the further stigmatization of Ebola virus disease survivors.
virological.org/t/guinea-2021-…
This is also genuinely shocking to me scientifically.

Based on the known mutation rate of EBOV/Makona, we'd expect viruses that have been replicating for 5-7 years, even at low levels, to have many more mutations. Like hundreds. These have 12.
virological.org/t/release-4-eb…
This suggests actual latency. As in herpesvirus-style the virus isn't replicating and is just hanging around in the cytoplasm doing nothing latency.

We know filoviruses cause persistent infections, during which they may replicate at lower levels, but this is truly mind blowing.
I have no idea how this happens mechanistically and it just goes to show how much we still have to learn about Ebola (and emerging RNA viruses in general).

I have so many questions. I hope there will be some epi data that might shed some light on mode of transmission.
And I'm collaborating with @KindrachukJason and some other fantastic colleagues on a project to look at persistence and sexual transmission of Ebola. That couldn't be a more timely topic.
But as fascinating as this is to me as a virologist who studies Ebola virus, it's also really troubling as a human being who is well aware of the painful stigmas already faced by many survivors. And the implications for controlling Ebola are extremely worrisome.
To me, this also suggests that we need to step up our efforts to provide Ebola vaccines to people in affected communities, including survivors. Right now Ebola vaccine supplies are limited and are deployed when there's an outbreak. We need to improve supply and access.

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More from @angie_rasmussen

11 Mar
Good grief. This isn’t even a study—it’s a preprint of a perspective piece advancing an untested hypothesis (pork shortages led people to seek other meat sources). You can poke holes in this without much effort.
For example, do the authors really think that ASF-induced shortages of farmed pork led people to start sourcing wildlife to replace it? It would take many metric shit-tons of bats and civets to replace the lost pork.
Why wouldn’t most shoppers just use a more readily available meat like duck?

I know when pork chops are sold out, I immediately start thinking about sourcing some rhinolophid bat meat to replace it. Then I realize that’s dumb and just grab a chicken or whatever instead.
Read 9 tweets
10 Mar
I'm writing about this (among other knowledge gaps still to be filled with regard to SARS-CoV-2) and Dr. Goldstein is right: I've been working on host responses to the big bad beta-CoVs since 2012, but haven't given much thought about tissue tropism of the other hCoVs...
This has led me to think about the relevance of fecal shedding for SARS-CoV-2 to transmission. The key to understanding SARS-CoV-2 transmission is that it's situational, even with more dominant modes (inhalation, direct contact) of transmission.
Dating back to SARS classic in 2003 & now with SARS-CoV-2, transmission via fecal bioaerosols is thought to occur when specific conditions occur with a building's plumbing. Despite lots of 🚨🚽🦠⛲️💩☣️-type tweets about it, people aren't getting COVID every time a toilet flushes.
Read 22 tweets
3 Mar
It has come to my attention that noted anti-vaccine zealot Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is releasing a film tomorrow targeting the Black community with some appalling misinformation.

It is not just filled with falsehoods. Despite claiming to be anti-racist, it is racist as hell
Medical racism absolutely exists, and underlies the disproportionate impact on the COVID-19 pandemic on the Black community. But correcting those disparities by claiming vaccines contribute to medical racism?

That's much, much worse.
You know what the result of discouraging Black people from getting the COVID-19 vaccine will be?

More preventable deaths in the Black community.

Race-based targeting with the goal of more Black people dying as a result?

It's morally bankrupt and outright racist.
Read 5 tweets
2 Mar
This position is very frustrating. It's both inconsistent with Church teachings and based on an inaccurate understanding of vaccine development.

1. The Vatican has reiterated that it is morally acceptable to use vaccines developed with HEK293 cells.
washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03…
2. HEK293 cells were taken from a single legally aborted fetus in the Netherlands nearly 50 years ago. Fetal tissue is not continually harvested for use in vaccine development. Virtually every medical/therapeutic/vaccine on the market used this cell line at some point.
3. Moderna and Pfizer also used HEK293 cells to perform confirmatory testing of their vaccines.

4. None of the vaccines contain actual fetal tissue.

5. If you are "pro-life," presumably you also object to millions dying from a preventable infectious disease as well as abortion.
Read 4 tweets
1 Mar
At what point does @MSNBC stop giving Laurie Garrett unfettered access to a giant platform for spreading misinformation?

She's not a scientist, and given her refusal to correct the many factual errors she's made over the past year, she's not much of a journalist either.
Good science journalists & communicators strive to empower people with information by helping them better understand the science, both the knowns and unknowns.

Laurie Garrett, from what I can tell, strives to scare the living shit out of people.
And do you want to know why this really pisses me off? Because when people like Scott Atlas and the Great Barrington Declaration authors attack the "eternal lockdown" straw man they've built, they can point to Laurie's calls for eternal lockdown as proof of their claims.
Read 6 tweets
1 Mar
This is a good question but probably not.

Yes, the recipient would probably get antibodies. And after the second shot there would be higher titers of neutralizing antibodies.

BUT...all you need to do is look at the efficacy of convalescent plasma.
Convalescent plasma is the liquid component of blood from people who have recovered from COVID-19 infection. It contains antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, so it should work, right? Well...

There's a lot of variability in antibody responses and titers (amount of antibody).
Every person mounts a unique repertoire of antibodies to an infection or vaccine. Sometimes they can make an individual antibody that is highly neutralizing, but often it's the totality of the immune response that's responsible for clearing an infection.
Read 11 tweets

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