This tweet is wrong as the letter below clearly states that this wasn’t GOF by the P3CO definition, which for NIH-funded work is the relevant standard.

But though this is politically motivated, the lack of transparency & failure to comply with NIH requirements is indefensible.
I don’t do work that meets the P3CO standard for enhanced potential pandemic pathogens, but I do work in containment on dangerous emerging viruses. Compliance with regulations and transparency are essential to doing this work safely and ethically.
Withholding data from the government agency that funds your work with taxpayer dollars does not engender trust. Federal research grants are not an entitlement. Failing to comply with oversight measures put into place largely for safety reasons is inexcusable.
I think EHA is subject to a lot of unfair criticism. Without their work, we’d have known even less about SARS-CoV-2 when it emerged. I respect many of the scientists at EHA and think their mission and work towards pandemic preparedness is critically important.
Yet I fail to see any situation in which withholding required data from NIH is justified. You can’t improve pandemic preparedness if you are hoarding data generated with taxpayer funds. That doesn’t make us safer. It isn’t consistent with EHA’s own organizational goals.
I strongly urge EHA to release their unpublished data in this area now. This is an existential threat to their organization. It isn’t just @GOPoversight. Maintaining public trust, regulatory compliance, and accountability are nonpartisan standards for ethical research conduct.
And this work is essential. Without it, we are less safe. We are less prepared for the next pandemic. Remaining silent and withholding data generated with public funds violates the spirit and the goal of NIH funded research, which is to improve national health.
Furthermore, this is fuel for the spurious accusations of the bad actors in this debate who have exploited this to further degrade important discussions about safety, security, and pandemic preparedness and prevention. The lack of disclosure perpetuates distrust.
I’m not going to sit idly by while EHA’s inaction allows unqualified grifters and opportunists free reign to disparage my entire profession, ultimately making everyone less safe. I don’t condone this as a responsible or collaborative stewardship of public funds.
I take compliance, oversight, and honesty about my work very seriously, as do most of my colleagues. This lack of transparency hurts our field and threatens global health security. EHA does not represent our entire field and they do not get to demand trust that isn’t earned.
And while I’ve defended their work and continue to see no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 came from a lab, I can’t defend these actions. I can only hope EHA charts a new course and proactively shares their data. Not just what NIH demands but EVERYTHING. Publicly.
The only path forward is unmitigated transparency. While I condemn the political witch hunt this has become, that doesn’t excuse the obligation to the public that has funded most of EHA’s work via USAID, NIH, & DoD.

Release the data and set yourselves free. It’s the only way.

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More from @angie_rasmussen

18 Oct
Yes, Colin Powell died of a breakthrough infection. That is why boosters are recommended for people at high risk for severe COVID-19.

Yes, that means vaccines aren’t 100% effective.

No, that doesn’t mean that vaccines are 0% effective.
Every death from COVID is a preventable tragedy. As long as prevalence is high, even some vaccinated people will be infected & a small percentage of those will become very sick. An even smaller percentage will die. But the vast majority of deaths are in the unvaccinated.
So get vaccinated AND wear masks AND try to limit exposure to people outside your household AND rapid test if you can get them AND try to improve indoor air quality AND use caution.

But don’t think this means vaccines don’t work. They work very well, just not perfectly.
Read 5 tweets
14 Oct
This has now happened a second time: an Ebola outbreak has occurred due to transmission from a persistently infected person of a virus that has barely changed in years.

This hints at an unknown and completely novel persistence mechanism for an RNA virus.
virological.org/t/oct-2021-evd…
This Ebola virus diverges from the most closely related genome by only 6 nucleotides. That virus was sampled from a deceased EVD patient in July 2019, meaning that in over 2 years, this virus has barely changed.

Which is really, really weird.
RNA viruses famously have a very high mutation rate, The RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) that copies the viral genome can't proofread & correct "typos" during replication. Thus, you can count the typos—mutations—as a measure of evolutionary time if you know the mutation rate.
Read 10 tweets
24 Sep
Much respect for Dr. Gilbert but I don’t agree with this. Viruses don’t always become attenuated (less virulent). When they do, it’s because there is an evolutionary selection pressure driving it. No such pressure exists for SARS-CoV-2.
An example of this type of selection pressure would be a virus that is so virulent, it kills its host before it can be transmitted to another one.

A virus is essentially a machine programmed to make more viruses. To do that, it needs to be spread to new hosts.
So variants that are so virulent they kill a host before that host can pass it along, that is under negative selection pressure. The more virulent viruses won’t be passed on. But attenuated variants will. They are under positive selection.
Read 8 tweets
21 Sep
Fellow J&J recipients: big press release out on impact of boosters. While the confidence intervals are huge, there’s evidence that boosting with a 2nd shot (of J&J) increases effectiveness.

jnj.com/johnson-johnso…
We need to see the full dataset but hopefully when it’s examined in detail, it will support a recommendation for those who got J&J to get a second shot. All the data (for any COVID vaccine) suggests there’s substantial benefit to boosting.
And I’m not sure where we are at with J&J supply, but last I saw, there wasn’t a lot. ACIP/FDA should consider recommending heterologous (mix and match) boosting with a mRNA vaccine. There’s data with AstraZeneca + mRNA that supports the safety of this approach.
Read 4 tweets
17 Sep
Yesterday my spouse said that we need to be both extra careful and hopeful. We can’t get in a car accident or appendicitis or anything that would require hospital care. There’s simply no capacity because of COVID.

I wish this had happened earlier but better late than never.
On July 11, all restrictions were lifted. I mostly go to work or run essential errands. I always wear a mask despite being fully vaccinated. We’ve gone out for dinner or drinks a handful of times and sat outside each time. Yet everywhere (except work) the scene is the same.
The majority of people are unmasked. Last Friday I picked up a bottle of wine. I was the only masked person in the long TGIF line at the liquor store. Distancing was not observed at all. A person in front of me merrily told another customer she was stocking up for a party.
Read 6 tweets

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