A side note: I’ve seen it said that the media is putting a positive spin on things despite SAGE members and other experts being much more worried.

This is a surprise to me, since the people we speak to for our reporting and quote in our articles are SAGE members and experts 🤔
We probably spent 20+ hours each reporting these stories, running well into Friday night and Saturday. This involved speaking to experts in immunology, epidemiology and broader public health, including the very people who did the analysis on vaccine efficacy and transmissibility.
I get why some think there’s not sufficient alarm. 150k have died in the UK, and a reluctance to act early has played a part.

But to accuse us of spinning when we’re working our asses off to get data & expert comment to the public as quickly as possible, is quite something.
I was asked today why I don’t speak to epidemiologists for our stories. I do, they’re quoted in them.

The real issue seems to be "the epidemiologists who did the research & wrote the reports don't share my interpretation of their work. And they’re not using 🚨 in their quotes."
Today it was 'ok you spoke to the scientists doing the work on vaccine escape and transmissibility, but you didn’t speak to this one particular person [who is not involved in that work at all but who I like]'.

Not helpful.
To conclude, this work is stressful enough without people jumping in with completely baseless accusations of bias and worse, usually demonstrating a complete ignorance of what we’ve actually written along the way.

We can deal with it, but we’d rather not have to.

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More from @jburnmurdoch

23 May
Lots of questions still bouncing around on vaccine efficacy vs B.1.617.2, so here are some follow-ups to our Saturday morning story:

Thread follows, and @SarahNev and I published a new story last night covering all the details including transmissibility: ft.com/content/e71471…
Following our original story, PHE later published more detailed data disaggregated by vaccine.

That data shows our pooled figure of 7% relative drop in two-dose efficacy against B.1.617.2 vs B.1.1.7 comprised a 6% drop for Pfizer, 10% drop for AstraZeneca. Very little difference
Similarly, the 35% relative drop in efficacy after one dose was virtually indistinguishable between the two vaccines.
Read 21 tweets
22 May

Public Health England has presented the first real-world data on vaccine efficacy against B.1.617.2, the variant first found in India.

Efficacy against symptomatic B.1.617.2 was 81% after two doses, much higher than many have feared.

Story: ft.com/content/a70d42…
I would ask people to read what follows carefully. Vaccine efficacy is a nuanced topic and the numbers here need to be interpreted in their proper context.
The data, which the FT has seen, suggest first dose offers around 35% less protection against symptomatic infection with B.1.617.2 compared to B.1.1.7, but after two doses the relative drop is only 7%.

The figures are based on pooled data from the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines
Read 15 tweets
20 May
Just two quick charts on B.1.617.2 today:

Cases continue to climb in Bolton, Blackburn & Bedford, (known B.1.617.2 hotspots), though rate of acceleration in Bolton has slowed slightly, and test positivity there is flat, suggesting surge testing is playing a role in 📈
Continued increase in those areas would be a concern, and it’s worth noting rises in neighbouring Bury and Burnley too.

B.1.617.2 not believed to be dominant in either of these areas, but Sanger data is now 12 days old so that may have changed.
Nonetheless, the same chart shows that high prevalence of B.1.617.2 is by no means a guarantee of prolonged resurgence.

Hounslow, Nottingham and Sefton are all places where B.1.617.2 is believed to be dominant, and yet their upticks reversed and now appear as brief blips.
Read 8 tweets
17 May
NEW: latest update on B.1.617.2 in UK

Story: ft.com/content/ce0730…


First, today’s Sanger data on variants at local level. On the surface, this doesn’t look good. Cases of non-B.1.617.2 are in decline, but those red peaks are the variant sending overall rates climbing
To state the obvious: that pattern is not what we want to see, and if things keep going in that direction, we could see national cases rapidly climb again.

But there are a couple of reasons to pause before assuming we’re going to see those peaks steepen and proliferate.
First, the Sanger data is sequences with specimen date before May 8.

We’ve got more days of data since then. It’s not broken down by variant, but it can show us what’s happened to total cases in those areas since May 8.

Answer: growth rates have slowed, in some cases reversed
Read 18 tweets
16 May
Good, measured thread from @JamesWard73 as ever.

If B.1.617.2 does prove to be more transmissible, we may need to keep things like indoor masking and tests for entry to large events for a while beyond June 21.
My thoughts:
• No, that wouldn't mean "lockdown never ends". No, it wouldn't be curtailing freedom. It would be a very small compromise for a very large benefit
• As vaccination rates continue to climb further into the year, those few remaining measures could then be eased
• It's still entirely possible any transmissibility advantage will prove to be much smaller than some have estimated. In that event, June 21 plans can proceed as planned
Read 4 tweets
14 May
Here's the latest from @AnnaSophieGross and I on the Indian variant, digging into how serious a threat it is currently believed to pose ft.com/content/eb158a…
One thing I think it's important to be clear about is that public health officials and epidemiologists are looking extremely closely at this stuff.
To the extent that policy has not followed one particular path or another, it's because the people looking at the evidence have yet to determine where it points. This is the scientific method, not complacency.
Read 7 tweets

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