My colleagues and I have decided to spend a few episodes of our @pandemiapodcast talking about the search for an HIV vaccine and parallels and differences with #covid19.
First episode (in German) here, a few thoughts (in English) to come:
@pandemiapodcast It’s worth noting that we are coming up on 40 years since the first report appeared on what would turn into the devastating AIDS pandemic. On 5 June 1981, @CDCMMWR reported on 5 young men in Los Angeles with a rare pneumonia caused by a fungus, 2 had died…
@pandemiapodcast @CDCMMWR One month later, there were 26 similar cases reported in @CDCMMWR (…).
As Tony Fauci told us:
"At that point, it dawned upon me, we have a really serious problem. And this is very likely a new disease, likely a virus."
@pandemiapodcast @CDCMMWR Fauci’s life changed at that point. Other scientists and doctors sprang into action, too. But there was no political response. And while the time scales and the pathogen are very different, of course, there are echoes here of what we have seen with #Covid19.
@pandemiapodcast @CDCMMWR It may sound hopelessly naive but as someone who was born in 1982 and tested HIV-positive only in 2013, going back and looking at some of the early political reaction (or rather inaction) and rhetoric was shocking.
@pandemiapodcast @CDCMMWR Take the presser that happened on October 15, 1982 in the White House and with which my colleague @sciencecohen opens his great book “Shots in the Dark”:
@pandemiapodcast @CDCMMWR @sciencecohen It was interesting to hear what Fauci had to say when I asked him if with Trump and #covid19 he felt like history was just repeating itself. He basically answered: Kind of, but with Trump it was worse.
@pandemiapodcast @CDCMMWR @sciencecohen “There was nothing in the early years, from the Reagan White House, or subsequently, from the George HW Bush White House, that did anything to counter or impede what we were doing”, Fauci told me. “We didn't have public demeaning of me as a scientist."
@pandemiapodcast @CDCMMWR @sciencecohen Trump on the other hand actively worked against him and other scientists, Fauci told me. "I mean, it was almost an active put down of what we were doing, whereas back then, it was more of a passive lack of the utilisation of the bully pulpit versus trying to suppress something."
@pandemiapodcast @CDCMMWR @sciencecohen There is obviously a lot more to all of this and I am acutely aware that I am alive today and able to essentially live a normal life not just because of the work of scientists but also crucially that of activists that worked with all they had to be heard.

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More from @kakape

31 Mar
“Our position has not changed”, says @EMA_News head Emer Cooke about AZ vaccine. “According to the current scientific knowledge, there is no evidence that would support restricting the use of this vaccine in any population."
@EMA_News I asked about numbers for Europe:
62 cases of cerebral venous thromboses so far, says Cooke with 9,2 million people vaccinated with AZ.
"If we look at the age-adjusted exposure, we calculate a risk of one per 100,000 in the under 60s."
@EMA_News CVST is much more common in women in general and about 2/3 of AZ vaccinees in Europe were women, says Peter Arlett. "this is why it is at this stage, difficult to disentangle the fact that there has been a preponderance of reports of this very rare potential side effect in women"
Read 8 tweets
29 Mar
Preprint suggesting a HIT-like mechanism for rare thromboses in some AZ vaccinees is out now.
Important for scientists to discuss the data.
For everyone else, not used to reading case reports: This sounds scary, but remember that this is very very rare.…
ResearchSquare also posted this editorial note with it:
And story from @GretchenVogel1 and me that tries to put this in context as much as we can right now is here:…
Read 5 tweets
28 Mar
Just a reminder that this pandemic, far from being over, is gathering steam once again globally with cases going up across the world.
Yes, vaccines are starting to help. Half a billion doses have been given. But we are a LONG way from vaccinating ourselves out of this problem.
While vaccines are being rolled out, we need to keep using the tools from the last year: #physicaldistancing, test, trace, isolate, etc.
Fatigue and new variants are making the job harder, immunity from vaccines is slowly making it easier.
We have to hold on.
In the meantime deaths keep rising.
At the current pace we will reach 3 million deaths in early May. If the trend continues we will reach that sad milestone in April already.
Vaccinating those most at risk around the globe equitably would do a lot to keep that number lower.
Read 4 tweets
27 Mar
For the past two weeks, my colleague @GretchenVogel1 and I have been trying to understand what researchers know so far about the rare cases of serious blood clotting observed in people that got the AstraZeneca #covid19 vaccine.

Our story is up here:…
@GretchenVogel1 I believe that this is an important story but it is also a complicated one, that is easy to misconstrue. So before you comment or share, please read the whole piece or at least the thread that I‘m gonna attempt later, after I finally get some lunch……
@GretchenVogel1 Okay, let’s do this. Let’s start with caveats:
This is ongoing research. There is a lot we don’t know yet. But as in all things #covid19 we're rapidly learning more.
The paper by Greinacher and others has been submitted to a preprint server but not yet published or peer-reviewed.
Read 23 tweets
24 Mar
I keep hearing that loosening restrictions earlier this month in Germany was necessary because of “pandemic fatigue”.

I don’t think that is true.
And if loosening restrictions was supposed to make things better, it didn’t.
It made them worse.

So a brief thread about fatigue
Yes, I am fatigued.
So are the people around me.
Fatigue means you are doing something that is hard.
And what we have all been doing is hard.
But that I am fatigued does not mean that I want the government to give up fighting this pandemic.
Quite the opposite.
I want the government to acknowledge that this is hard.
I want them to motivate me by giving the reasons that we need to keep doing this.
I want them to make it easier for me to keep doing this.

And I want them to do what they can to make sure this ends as soon as possible.
Read 6 tweets
23 Mar
Yesterday morning:
great results from large trial of AZ‘s #covid19 vaccine
Yesterday evening:
DSMB „expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data“…
This whole pandemic is a rollercoaster I would like to get off, but AstraZeneca sure look like they are intent on sending us through a few extra loops and dips while we‘re on it...
AstraZeneca have issued a statement on the DSMB’s concerns now incl. this beautiful example of clear crisis communication:

"We have reviewed the preliminary assessment of the primary analysis and the results were consistent with the interim analysis."
Read 13 tweets

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