Public health is a wide-ranging discipline, which has been defined as "the science and art of preventing disease”, prolonging life and improving quality of life through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, communities and individuals.

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Public Health is most probably the discipline of science that materially improves the lives of the most people around the world, striving to use evidence, expertise, and insight from all disciplines to improve the health and wellbeing of the population as a whole.

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The UK, and Liverpool in particular, has a long history of pioneering Public Health research and programmes, many of which have materially & significantly improved the lives of people in local communities & around the world.

ljmu.ac.uk/about-us/news/…
Sadly, while modern-Science has largely used strong ethical principles and robust frameworks to understand more about the world & improve society, Science has also been misused throughout history.

Sometimes this has been for genuine evil and with truly terrible consequences.
Given the complex and somewhat troubled history of scientific research, & the scientific method itself, the term 'Human Guinea Pig Experiments' carries a lot of weight and has wide-ranging and serious implications.

I don't really think I need to go into the details of why that is, although we can see examples from Nuremberg trial, or from many mental institutions throughout 19/20th century for what 'human guinea-pig experimentation' really is.
jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/…
It is not a term that should, in my opinion, be bandied around lightly.
If making such claims, it would be reasonable to assume accusors know who the investigators actually are, what and how they are actually studying, & what channels they have gone through.
From original&subsequent tweets, this doesn't seem to be the case, where it became clear those making or defending the allegations did not actually have any particular knowledge of details of study - Assumptions around whom is responsible & basics of study design were incorrect.
In a country with freedom of expression & scientific thought, it is the right of @Zubhaque to make whatever allegation she deems fit, esp if there is a genuine case of 'human guinea-pig experimentation.'

It is @GabrielScally @chrischirp right to defend these allegations.
But if scientists genuinely think there is 'human guinea-pig experimentation' carried out on the people of L'pool & are willing to publicly implicate PIs as being responsible for this, they have a duty to immediately report this via official channels, & not just via some Tweets.
Misinformed allegations of unethical Public Health practice were also bandied around during the initial community testing pilot.

A lot of this was via Twitter, some via letters to participants, and really not much through official channels or directly to researchers involved.
These actually had an impact on the results of the community testing pilot.

liverpool.ac.uk/media/livacuk/…
Qualitative evidence shows these misinformed allegations & the general furore of misinformation around testing was actually a key reason for lower than desired test uptake, which likely led to sustained higher community prevalence, particularly in the most deprived areas.
Given how bad the following epidemic wave the UK experienced was, it follows that this decreased uptake and sustained higher prevalence resulted in some hospitalizations & deaths which could otherwise have been prevented by this pilot evaluation.
Why am I saying this? Because this goes to show what scientists say on Twitter, or in the media, does actually matter.

How we do PH, science, and science communication does actually matter.

Allegations you make against colleagues or fellow human beings do actually matter.
Such serious allegations of malpractice should only be made after careful consideration of the context and evidence, and if you are confident enough to stand by them when scrutinised.
If one genuinely thinks 'human guinea pig experiments' are being undertaken on the population of a city in UK, that does need to be raised immediately to the PI directly, as well as to other senior officials & academics in this country - it's an *extremely* serious allegation.
If not, then please just find better and less sensationalist language to use.

It is perfectly fine to have ethical concerns, these are very complex issues and require careful consideration, & criticism & challenge is fundamental to good science.
But when claims are from people who have made little effort to understand what is actually going on here, these claims are, imo, unsubstantiated.
Ergo, accusations of 'human guinea pig experiments' against esteemed colleagues who shoulder ultimate responsibility are unacceptable.
I also think this leads into a wider issue where it now seems any disagreement between scientists, or diffs in styles/approaches/values, seems to result in public accusations of malpractice, rather than simply sci disagreement/diff interpretations of complex & limited evidence.
It would also be good to consider that in reality, the Local universities and local Public health probably have a better idea for what is best for the people they serve than those who haven't been involved in the local response, who sit behind a screen complaining.
Science twitter has turned into a toxic place recently, unfortunately, myself included, but I did not think it would stoop to the point where such serious allegations were made & then defended about pilot studies with so many esteemed investigators/scientists involved.
These investigators are simply looking to use the scientific tools available to us to improve the health & wellbeing of the communities they serve.

This is true public health in action, and has already resulted in extremely valuable findings.

I would hope now that it is clearer that these allegations were misinformed and unsubstantiated, that these allegations are retracted or, at least if not, then I guess I would hope they are made via the appropriate channels which their seriousness requires.

End.
I guess one last thing, as some people seem to think points I raise are invalid due to me being 'anonymous.'

I am not anonymous, my identity can be quite easily found from my pinned tweet.
For full transparency, I am not directly involved in these pilot events, but have co-authored work with Prof Buchan who is leading the evaluation, and am in fairly regular correspondence with him and others involved.
I also hope that I have not overstepped the mark and amplified this issue more than the team at Liverpool would want, but I thought about it all day and decided something needed to be said, given the seriousness of the allegations made.
Probably also worth mentioning that while I would now call Prof Buchan and some other correspondents my colleagues, what I tweet out are my solely my own views which others may or may not agree with or support, and may not feel quite as strongly as I do on this issue.
And I would also have preferred to not do this in public but I received no response from a private message I sent asking for tweet to be reconsidered. Given the allegations are public, and grave, I think public response and defence are reasonable.

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More from @ScienceShared

3 May
Science framework for opening up group events

This paper is a response to a DCMS Commission to inform a research programme to be overseen by the DCMS Science Board focusing on opening events and venues with minimal transmission risk.

Thread ⬇️

assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/upl…
It was prepared by a Working Group organised by SAGE-EMG and DCMS that included participants in several SAGE subgroups (EMG, SPI-B, SPI-M) and others (Appendix B). Image
Summary -

Priority research questions, Principles for design and evaluation of pilots, and Best practice approaches for an events research programme. ImageImageImage
Read 31 tweets
1 May
Worth reading RE Liverpool events pilot.
news.liverpool.ac.uk/2021/04/07/uni… ImageImageImage
And some of the work published so far from Liverpool community testing pilot, which imo is pioneering Public Health work with mpact on local communities and far wider.

Should be applauded, not chastised.
Enhanced Lateral Flow Testing Strategies in Care Homes Are Associated with Poor Adherence and Were Insufficient to Prevent COVID-19 Outbreaks: Results from a Mixed Methods Implementation Study

papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf…
Read 9 tweets
29 Apr
Japan

Is

Not

an

Example

of

Elimination

Japan

Is

an

Example

of

Quite

Effective

Mitigation

I

Dislike

Misinformation

in

Medical

Journals

Especially

When

It's

Retweeted

by

so

many

leading

Academics.
Read 8 tweets
27 Apr
A recent letter was widely criticised.

While I am no fan of *some* of the signatories & their stances during the pandemic, nefarious connections or not, and I don't personally agree with the letter in its entirety...
I'm unsure if the actual content of the letter was quite so controversial as many are making out.

See the link here (bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episod…) at 18 minutes in for @jackiecassell thoughts on why vaccination means we should at least re-consider *how* we are doing public health.
Consent and support are far more desirable (and imo optimal) than restrictions and police enforcement.

At some point we will go back to public health by consent, at least I very much hope so. Whether that time is today, June 21st, or next year is of course worthy of debate.
Read 8 tweets
26 Apr
If a journalist came to me and asked me to give a comment on the technicalities of heart surgery, the complexities of recovering patients from myocardial infarction, how to run an intensive care unit, or other such like medical doctor things, I would politely decline.
I'm sure the vast majority of virologists/immunologists/ID experts/people with a degree in biology would appreciate it if certain medical doctors/political commentators did the same when asked to give comments on SARS-CoV-2 variants and vaccine escape...
I guess the most obvious follow up is, why are 'journalists' going to general medical doctors for comments on variants/viral evolution/immunology anyway...?
Read 4 tweets
14 Apr
"Implementation of staff and visitor care home LFD testing protocols was poorly adhered to and did not reduce the number or scale of COVID-19 outbreaks. More focus is needed on the contextual and behavioural factors that influence protocol adherence."

papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf…
A very important (and quality imo) study, highlighting the complexities of LFD implementation, especially in vulnerable environments and when resources and time are tight, and work burden is already significant.
I stress the authors conclusions - "More focus is needed on the contextual and behavioural factors that influence protocol adherence."
Read 7 tweets

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