NEW: this chart is important

It’s early days, but there are signs that the vaccines may be working against the Indian variant B.1.617.2

Resurgences in Bolton & Blackburn are so far confined to younger people. Cases remain low & flat among the mostly-vaccinated older population.
(We must also note that in the past, the higher levels of social mixing you typically see among younger people have led cases to rise among them first before climbing in the older groups, so vaccines are not the only thing that can cause this. We need this pattern to hold)
What about in India, where the variant originated and is believed to be dominant?

Age-stratified data on cases & deaths here is very patchy. But what little there is also hints at a vaccine effect: share of cases/deaths taken up by the elderly (the most vaccinated) is falling 📉
That’s two points — albeit tentative ones — in the "vaccines offer protection against B.1.617.2" column 💉💪✅
What about transmissibility?

Nothing definitive yet, but the jump in Bolton’s daily cases from ~20 to ~150 certainly hints something is different.

Still possible this is a bubble led by household infection from returning travellers, but as numbers grow that gets less plausible.
In Bolton and Blackburn, numbers of cases associated with the Indian variant are climbing, while those not associated with B.1.617 have continued to fall.

Again I’d note here that the absolute numbers are small, but I think it would be negligent to ignore this trend.
New data published yesterday by @PHE_uk shows that there is a subtle yet visible trend whereby areas in which new variants (most of which are thought to be B.1.617.2) are most prevalent are also now seeing higher case growth, on average.
A lot of very smart people are looking hard at the transmissibility question, and robust data will no doubt emerge.

In the meantime, proposals to ramp up vaccination in the area strike me as absolutely correct, and whether additional measures may be needed remains to be seen.
Here’s our latest story, with @AnnaSophieGross and @SebastianEPayne…
Oh, and finally a big shout-out to @Rukmini who pointed me to the age-stratified Indian data, and wrote a fantastic piece on that Indian vaccine effect here:…
Final bits:

Remember, vaccines put us in a much stronger position than when variants emerged in the past. The "cases are rising, next it will be hospitalisations and deaths" maxim has not become *untrue*, but it has become *less* true in terms of the steepness of any rise.
The two things I'll be watching for in the comings days and weeks:
• Does the rise in cases remain confined mainly to under-vaccinated age groups?
• Do hospitalisations begin to climb, and if so what does the cases-to-admissions ratio look like?
For now, I remain in the watching now worrying camp
*** not *** not now 😅😅

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More from @jburnmurdoch

12 May
NEW: is the Indian variant B.1.617.2 escaping the vaccines? @AnnaSophieGross, @AmyKazmin, @jyots43 and I investigate

Story here:…

And now time for a thread where I complain about persistent misreporting of breakthrough infections and vaccine escape:
First, the fact that a small portion of fully vaccinated people can still get infected is not news. That a tiny portion of fully vaccinated people *die* of Covid is not news.

Vaccines greatly reduce your risk of infection, transmission, illness & death. They do not eliminate it.
This is why it’s been so frustrating seeing tweets go viral for screenshotting vaccine trial results with "deaths: 0" in them.

In a trial of hundreds or a couple of thousand people, you may get zero deaths. In the real world (315m people now fully vaccinated) you don’t.
Read 18 tweets
7 May
NEW: time for a proper thread on B.1.617.2, the subtype of the Indian variant that has been moved to "variant of concern" today by Public Health England.

First, it’s clear case numbers from this lineage are growing faster than other imported variants have done in the UK.
Here’s the same thing on a logit scale (HT @trvrb), which makes it easier to compare growth rates.

As we can see, B.1.617.2 is on a fairly steady upward trajectory, which other variants failed to achieve.
So we know its trajectory looks different to the other imported variants, but that doesn’t tell us enough. We need a better benchmark: how does its growth compare to B.1.1.7 at the same stage of its emergence?

Remarkably similar, it turns out:
Read 19 tweets
5 May
Quick mini-thread on the Seychelles:

There has been a surge in cases in the last few days, but as we’ve often seen lately, when you dig beneath the surface this is consistent with the vaccines working as advertised.
• More than half of people in the Seychelles are fully vaccinated. The rest are mostly unvaccinated (very few with just one dose)
• But only one-third of active cases there have been vaccinated
• So that means the unvaccinated are roughly twice as likely as the vaccinated to have been infected, which is completely in-line with the 50% efficacy reported for Sinovac (the main vaccine in use in the Seychelles)
Read 6 tweets
4 May
Brief thread on vaccines vs variants (vaccines are winning 💉💪):

[Some] people keep pointing to rising cases in places like Chile and Canada as evidence that the vaccines aren’t working.

That’s completely contradicted by the data coming out of those countries
First, an update from Chile, where cases, ICU admissions and deaths are now all falling among the elderly, who were prioritised for vaccination (while still rising or stable among younger, less-vaccinated groups).
Chile is one of the clearest examples worldwide:
• Rates were on exactly the same path among young & old before vaccines
• They then diverged, with the elderly (💉) faring better
• If deaths among 70+ had stayed on the same path as the 0-59s, 1,500 more people would have died
Read 15 tweets
1 May
Brief interlude from Covid content today

I recently decided work wasn't busy enough (lol) and set out to build a garden table from scratch. Easily one of the most rewarding things I've done.

Here's a step-by-step, starting with ~60m of wood arriving, too big to bring indoors 😅
So the race was on to cut the wood small enough to bring inside before any rain.

Lots of sawing, some with a circular saw until neighbours complained (not unreasonably), and then hand-saw for the rest.

Super useful tool here for calculating cuts:…
With everything cut to size, next step was sanding down all edges to make sure nobody would sit on a splinter.

Unfortunately the electric sander also proved unpopular with neighbours, so I hand-sanded 40-odd planks 😅

Then it was a case of waiting for optimal painting weather.
Read 12 tweets
21 Apr
NEW thread: here’s the latest data on how vaccines are fighting Covid.

My India tweets earlier were grim, but these are more optimistic

Vaccines are working in the UK ✅, working in the US ✅, and contrary to alarmist reports, they’re working in Chile ✅…
First, some more detail on the UK.

Cases, hospital admissions and deaths have fallen steeply among all groups (the 'restrictions effect'), but have fallen furthest and fastest among the older, most-vaccinated groups (vaccine effect).
(For anyone wondering why the UK deaths lines are getting bumpy, that’s a good thing:

The numbers are now so small — 20 Covid deaths per day — that random variation starts making things look noisy)
Read 17 tweets

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