Pandemic of #unvaccinated, more like #PandemicOfInequities‼️
🧵Below are a few interactions I’ve had in the past year with people who have been left behind by our inequitable approaches and deficit model assumptions and labels.
Shared with consent on the condition of anonymity
Case1️⃣: recent refugees, husband works min-wage in a bakery, wife pregnant and earns VERY modest income through knitting. Have 3 children < 12 yrs old.
Whole family was unvaccinated until recently.
Few months ago, one child was exposed in school. Family didn’t have access to
Case1️⃣ cont’d: #RapidTests & frankly didn’t even know that was an option. Husband couldn’t afford to take a half-day off to get tested even when symptoms emerged. He ended up in ICU—sole bread winner for the family.
Even then the wife was hesitant to vaccinate herself or her
Case1️⃣ cont’d: kids because of rampant misinformation in community upon which she was increasingly reliant due to continued discrimination & being othered in the health system, which had seriously shaken her trust in medical establishment.She was referred to me by a colleague.
Case1️⃣ cont’d:
She was reluctant to speak to me until she realized I too was a refugee and spoke her language (Turkish).
When we finally connected, she described being made to feel like “a burden, an uneducated, ignorant fool”.
A gentleman in his 50s who had been cycled through the health system for years before finally being diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder & offered very few support resources.
This had left him quite disillusioned about the medical establishment. He found refuge
Case2️⃣ cont’d: in anti-science and anti-vaccine circles.
Even though I finally managed to convince him to get vaccinated, he continues to carry the heavy burden of years of being othered by an inequitable health system.
Case3️⃣: immigrant family with 5 kids, 2 are < 5 yrs and not eligible to get vaccinated yet. The rest of the family is vaccinated. Both parents work multiple min-wage jobs.
No access to #RapidTest because they simply can’t afford to take time off from work to wait in lineups.
Case3️⃣ cont’d: Their jobs put them at increased risk of exposure.
The father, who has diabetes was infected, and because very sick, while he didn’t need hospitalization, he was sick enough that his wife had to also miss work to look after him & also ensure kids don’t get sick.
Case3️⃣ cont’d: They have a child with a rare hereditary disease, which means increased risk for severe complications and even death. They live in a small 3 bedroom apartment and had no way of properly isolating the child, and no family to take the child for a few days.
Case3️⃣ cont’d: No easy access to tests, including #RapidTests meant that they couldn’t reassure friends the child is not infectious in order to be taken in for a few days to prevent potential exposure. This + loss of income became a MAJOR source of distress for the family.
Case3️⃣ cont’d: It took concerted effort with a few community friends and hospital colleagues to get the child tested and find them a safe place for a few days till the rest of the family recovered from their infection.
These are but a few examples of how low socioeconomic status and traditionally marginalized and underserved groups continue to fall through the cracks of our health systems and inequitable pandemic management policies.
Things we 💯 must improve
📌 #PaidSickDays
📌 Recognizing & addressing the failure of our health literacy campaigns in meeting the needs of marginalized groups who have legitimate reasons for mistrust.
📌 Recognizing that our health systems are BROKEN and need major overhaul

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More from @DeNovo_Fatima

25 Dec
🔬 Very nice study showing that #Omicron isn’t as efficient in entering cells compared to Delta & ancestral lineages.

👩🏾‍🔬 Why I find this cool: unlike other recent datasets, they’ve used an actual viral isolate (not pseudovirus) in an appropriate cell line & an animal model.
In science using the right models & methods matters, but not all models recapitulate human conditions & no single method can give us the whole picture.
Why does this matter: b/c we tend to over-interpret & over-extrapolate.
So here the only appropriate conclusion is that…
Omicron is not as efficient in cell entry & maybe infecting lung cells.
Does it mean the overall disease is less severe: we don’t know, remember that multiple systems get affected by the disease, looking at lungs alone won’t tell us if for instance clotting is also reduced
Read 4 tweets
27 Nov
Hearing the news of Omicron cases in Europe in people who travelled through various countries (Malawi, Egypt, Namibia, Dubai, etc.) indicates that Omicron was flying under the radar in undersequenced countries for some time until Botswana & 🇿🇦 detected it & alerted the 🌎.
The thing about pathogen evolution, particularly in obligate cellular parasites, is that detecting new lineages is difficult unless it is being transmitted AND someone is looking for it (biological samples including wastewater)➡️need capacity building in genomic surveillance
We’re lucky to have good genomics capacity (but always more can be done), many countries do not! We MUST help them develop these capacities so they can be continuously monitoring their regional evolution!!
Read 6 tweets
26 Nov
👩🏾‍🔬Response to the most common question I got today:
The new variant has a lot of mutations, what does this mean in terms of epidemiology & vaccines❓

🧬 short answer: to early to tell‼️

🔬Long, more nuanced answer: whilst having too many mutations, some of which are known to
affect for instance how fast the virus replicates inside our cells or how it interacts with our immune system, it is difficult to say what synergistic effect all those mutations could have when put together, without functional assays coupled with real-world data‼️
Analogy: some vegetables on their own taste quite meh, some combination of those vegetables put together could make an absolutely awful meal, but sometimes you add in a bunch of other ingredients & you get something that’s tolerable‼️
(Can you tell I don’t like vegetables 🙃)
Read 5 tweets
25 Nov
Worried about new variants?

We got you 🙌🏾

🔬🧬We are the Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network @CoVaRR_Net working to accelerate & facilitate our understanding and management of #SARSCoV2 variants of concern!

#TeamCanada #GoTeam #GoScience
Science doesn’t happen in silos & is not one dimensional!
@Covarrnet is founded on the belief that the best science is one that is collaborative & #EDII-centred.
Here are some of the brilliant people who make up @CoVaRR_Net:
@langlois_ma @ninan_abraham1 @JenGommerman @gingraslab1
Read 4 tweets
18 Nov
This is an extremely difficult time to be a scientist & even more so if you are a minority #WomanInScience.

Last night I went on @globalnews radio thinking I was going to talk about the differences between PCR & other screening methods for COVID—basically science.
The conversation was steered towards border policy & that some want more restrictions to be removed. Doing my duty as a scientist & using the best current evidence, I noted the rise in cases 🌍, the not so perfect💉 rate in some places & importance of using #RapidTest
I then urged my fellow Canadians to be prudent & cautious when making travel arrangements.
The host then made an off-the-cuff remark on how “if I were in charge of making that policy I would probably close the border”—a completely inappropriate misinterpretation of my advice‼️
Read 7 tweets
9 Oct
📊 Ontario Science table’s survey shows significantly lower vaccination intention amongst groups who experience a disproportionate burden of COVID outcomes: low income & racialized.

As someone who belongs to this group & does literacy outreach I’d like to dissect it further 🧵⤵️
This phenomenon isn’t new. In every aspect of medicine, racialized, marginalized, underserved & low-income groups, who often experience the highest burden of bad outcome, also happen to be the most reluctant to seek medical intervention, including vaccination. But why⁉️
Barriers to access is at the root of the issue‼️

These barriers include:
📌 Mistrust
📌 Low health literacy
📌 Financial & logistical burden

Let’s take a look at these one-by-one:
Read 11 tweets

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