Friendly reminder that new variants are just that: new. We can’t know if they will be bad or just meh based on sequence alone, nor guess at their provenance. Lots of mutations ≠ very bad.

This Thanksgiving, I remain grateful for genomic surveillance & safe, effective vaccines.
Addendum: I am not dismissing the threat or advocating that we do nothing/ignore this “Nu” variant. On the contrary, we should urgently gather data to better understand it. Most urgently of all, we MUST increase vaccine supplies to South Africa.
VOCs emerge in mostly unvaccinated populations. South Africa is ~35% vaccinated. There are many susceptible people, and even more so on the entire African continent, that can allow for explosive spread.

It happened in India with delta and it can happen in SA with nu.
The lesson here is not OMG NU! It’s that vaccine equity is about more than just altruism. We have the tools to prevent potential new variants from emerging and we’ve failed to use them effectively.

None of us are safe until all of us are safe. Vaccinate the world.

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More from @angie_rasmussen

12 Nov
I’ve truly appreciated @oneunderscore__’s reporting on disinformation and general internet bullshit for a long time, so I was glad to chat about whether it’s possible to “undo” a vaccine by detox nonsense methods like Borax baths. SPOILER ALERT: Lucky for you, it is not.
I’m flying to Iceland & 1st order of business is to start stewing in as many geothermal mineral baths as possible. As I’m very fucking burned out & this is very fucking relaxing, I’m relieved that despite blah blah wellness it will have zero effect on my vaccine-induced immunity.
For the whole article, check it out. Vaccines don’t contain radiation, poison, “toxins”, or nanotechnology, and have you ever seen Chernobyl? Epsom salt baths can don’t cure radiation poisoning. They certainly don’t “undo” vaccination (which is WAY preferable to irradiation)!
Read 4 tweets
2 Nov
Attention all folks looking for a great place to do virology research! We are hiring MULTIPLE positions at @VIDOInterVac.

✅Principal investigators
✅Postdoctoral fellows
✅Laboratory technicians
If you're a virologist (or bacteriologist) on the academic job market, consider joining us here! Our facilities are world-class & you'd be joining Canada's newly established National Pandemic Research Centre with amazing colleagues & institutional support!
vido.humi.ca/job-board/rese…
Are you interested in the host response to viral infection? Want to work on emerging viruses like SARS-CoV-2, Ebola, flu, etc? Do you know how to analyze large sequencing datasets in R and/or Python? Then come join my lab team!!!!
vido.humi.ca/job-board/rese…
Read 8 tweets
28 Oct
I spoke with @betswrites at length for this piece on the ongoing saga of NIH oversight on the CoV work conducted with EcoHealth Alliance. It contains new information about compliance with the terms of the grant.
wsj.com/articles/coron…
First off, I'll just say that my thread from last week may be a bit out of date given that EHA is disputing the claim from NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak that they did not comply with reporting requirements for their grant.
Specifically, EHA contends that they did report their findings of increased replication of a chimeric SARS-related coronavirus as required and that they submitted their annual report on time.
Read 18 tweets
21 Oct
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.
Read 12 tweets
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

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