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Knitter, writer, archivist at @maydayrooms. Occasional translator. Perpetually poor. If you like my writing send cash:
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22 Sep
Just read @AllysonPollock's editorial at BMJ on Moonshot (big fan of Allyson and everything she's said on pandemic so far.) I have a sense that what she's said here isn't right. As far as I understand it, #Moonshot is a version of the plan suggested here:
Of course the UK government version will be much less functional, but Mina's views on mass testing do actually seem quite sensible (to me, not a virologist or epidemiologist) and it would be really good for critics to actually engage rather than dismiss. As in it strikes me that
questions of false positives and false negatives are rather less important if you screen regularly, and combine positives with old fashioned PCR testing. More than this, multiple tests should actually make this more accurate, not less!
Read 4 tweets
22 Sep
Ten COVID basics that everyone seems to have forgotten: When you look at the data you are looking into the past. The virus has an incubation period of about 2-14 days (the average is 5 days) so the infections you are seeing in the data now are old. If someone contracted the
virus, it took 5 days for symptoms to show up, then they went for a test the next day, and the test took a couple of days to return, and then it takes average 3 days for that positive test to be logged in the data, then that means the numbers each day are to do with transmission
that took place a week and a half ago. There are similar lags associated with serious disease and death. Hospitalisation most usually takes place in the second week after symptom onset. Death can take quite a long time - especially for those who are in ICU - and often takes place
Read 20 tweets
22 Sep
There's a word for the view that less healthy people, older people, people with underlying illnesses, immunosuppressed people, people should just be allowed to die, or otherwise should be locked in their homes forever until they do, while everyone returns to normal: eugenics.
This is what people like Carl Heneghan, Sunetra Gupta, and Karol Sikora stand for. They are eugenicists. They might give their beliefs other names, or decorate them with the lingo of evidence-based medicine, or science. But these people are counselling the murder of the weak.
And we should be straight about why this position is adored by the conservatives, and especially a cabinet whose chief ideological commitments are to ideas of "natural talent", while organising society in such a way that it has never failed to strike against those in need.
Read 6 tweets
21 Sep
Following from @izzybraithwaite’s brilliant thread on Heneghan and co, something needs to said about what these people are doing. It isn’t just about denialism, and the attempt to convince masses of people that COVID is less serious than it is, but also the attempt to produce a
Chimera of debate where there really is none to be had. This in turn provides an alibi for a government that has all but given up in providing necessary public healthcare for the country’s population. By inventing a position in which it is just fine to lock up disabled people and
Older people and immunosuppressed people for forever and a day - all in the name of “freedom” - they don’t aim to convince you, but rather to provide plausible deniability for a murderous government. It plays particularly well in our media, where for example the BBC thinks that
Read 9 tweets
17 Sep
Since Prof @carlheneghan is intent to show how the death data is wrong, perhaps his team will show precisely how many people died from COVID >28 days after positive PCR (since it was his pressure that instigated policy that these deaths ought not be counted.) Thought not.
I get that evidence based medicine has always fought (rightly) against received wisdom. The problem is that at this point @carlheneghan is drunk on every against-the-grain conclusion, and the gesture of the counterintuitive as a mark of truth, instead of evidence. It is a sad
sight to see. His performance today, in which far from presenting evidence he endlessly speculated on whether COVID was endemic, and whether all those numbers were just too scary for the public, and whether COVID was seasonal (no evidence whatsoever!) was precisely this. But
Read 7 tweets
17 Sep
Dido Harding, the head of Test and Trace, went up in parliament and said contacts of people with COVID shouldn’t themselves be tested unless they have symptoms. This is for a disease where infectivity peaks just before symptom onset. It is hard to describe quite how mad this is.
If you want to know why there are more and more cases it is this: because the response to a positive test is just telling people to stay home, not tracing and isolating their contacts immediately. And also people with symptoms waiting until a test comes back +ve to isolate.
But literally what the fuck does she think her job is, if it’s not to find out who has the virus, and to find out who they’ve been in contact with, and get them to isolate regardless of whether they have symptoms? And isn’t this all a consequence of the equally mad policy that
Read 4 tweets
17 Sep
A reminder: people saying "most people are safe and should go back to normal" are in fact saying "older people, people with HIV, people with compromised immune systems from cancer or chemo or transplants, people with COPD, should be under indefinite house arrest." Fuck that.
The more that people who aren't immediately at risk "go back to normal" the worse the social consequences for groups at risk. Meanwhile every single attempt to "shield the vulnerable" has so far failed catastrophically. The solution, instead of loading the burden on weaker people
should be to undertake policies to find every case, track their contacts, isolate all suspected and diagnosed cases, and support people through that isolation - all in order to bring COVID to near-elimination levels, so *everyone* can start to live more normally.
Read 5 tweets
14 Sep
People don’t get it: I work in the City of London. My office is surrounded by huge investment banks, law firms, management consultants. None of them are going back to work in their buildings. The wealthy realise COVID is bad and are avoiding it. Meanwhile the government is
sending the rest of us back to work, back to school, back to university, back to get sick. I can’t tell you what a ghost town the financial district is. Most of the shops and food places have closed, probably for good. But the question is why one rule for them and another for us?
Everyone should have the privileges that the wealthy and powerful have, not to get sick. You want to know why lockdown ended? Because they figured out people who would go back to work after had expendable lives. Same for all the people who were made to work through lockdown.
Read 5 tweets
13 Sep
I'm a huge fan of @IndependentSage, which has been a rare voice of reason during the pandemic. But I think they are wrong to immediately pooh-pooh mass testing initiatives. They risk being hugely outflanked here. I would really like to see them do a direct response to the ideas
presented by @michaelmina_lab in this episode of This Week in Virology: - essentially this seems to be the government's idea for "operation moonshot". To me, the medicine here looks pretty sound, and I think critical voices ought to be talking about it.
Perhaps it would be even good to invite Michael or someone similar to discuss it one week on the show. Of course the way the government has presented the suggestion is crazy and designed to undermine the NHS, with the proposed £100bn price tag. But I also can't see why what is
Read 7 tweets
11 Sep
Here’s a thread responding the following popular talking points: “treating COVID means that people don’t get other care and die”; “the only people who die are already old and sick”; “the tests are too sensitive and non-infectious people are being asked to isolate”; “lots of
people died with COVID, not of COVID”; “We have protected older and vulnerable people now so we need to worry less”

Ok, we all heard what you said. Now shut the fuck up, because it is nonsense. It is nonsense that is gonna get another 65,000 people killed. Your right to go out
to restaurants and to the football really is less important than other people’s rights not to be infected and get disabled or die from a horrible illness. Shut the fuck up. The reason we didn’t manage to eliminate the virus the first time around was because of people like you -
Read 9 tweets
9 Sep
This report by SPI-B (a part of SAGE) is the most racist policy document I've seen in ages. Keeps saying taxi drivers are a source of authoritative health advice in BAME communities.😂 Shit is positively colonial. What's the most racist bit you can find?…
I was fond of this bit too. I mean it's almost impossible to imagine being as small-minded, ignorant, and racist as the politicians and civil servants they must be talking too. Image
Also crap like "BAME communities may be less willing to trust government communications on pandemic
measures due to historical issues and contemporary perceptions of institutional racism." No - people distrust the government not only because of systematic racism but in this
Read 8 tweets
6 Sep
Listen fuckers, they ain’t gonna microchip you with a vaccine: the microchips are in your phone. Tracking your movements, thoughts, behaviour. You carry it around, give it your attention, and type your most personal thoughts into platforms owned by the richest men in the world.
I get it: they built a world where this is how you are forced to maintain your friendships and relationships. And they made all the apps super addictive. And they persistently send you crap on your feed to provoke and emotionally manipulate you. It is real shit. But it does mean
That there’s literally no reason to “chip” you beyond giving you a phone with Facebook, Twitter, whatsapp, and insta loaded on to it.

For those reading who’s thinking “I’d never be anti-vaxxer” here’s the thing: if you want to stop people believing in conspiracy theories then
Read 6 tweets
5 Sep
It's rarely noted that those scientists who had the greatest effect in the response to COVID-19 were those who provided alibis to governments looking to avoid following international best practice. Often these have been figures with really fringe beliefs, like Anders Tegnell, or
even full on frauds like @ProfKarolSikora (who isn't in the slightest an expert on infectious diseases, and has a long history of falsifying his CV.) Or the ones in high up civil service positions like Dr Jenny Harries, who provided scientific-sounding justifications for whatever
the government wanted. What I mean by this is that it is easy to imagine a scenario where there wasn't quibbling from these very fringe figures about: the need to lock down, the need to find and isolate every case, unproductive arguments about whether masks are effective. It is
Read 5 tweets
5 Sep
It's really depressing that evidence-based medicine - one of the few methods we have that works - is being abused by one of its most serious proponents, @carlheneghan, to grab headlines. Here's why he's wrong: Heneghan is correct that PCR picks up fragments of viral RNA. Everyone
has known this since the beginning. There has been relatively good evidence of how long people are infection is mild-moderate cases of COVID since that paper on the Munich cluster. There is increasing evidence that even people with longer term disease don't remain infectious. But
the assumption behind @carlheneghan's intervention is that PCR positivity is only useful as a cue for people to take individual actions such as self-isolating. The truth is that this is wrong: there is a whole lot of value in finding out where the virus is and has been across the
Read 9 tweets
26 Aug
I swear if I see another comfortable, healthy, middle class homeowner complain about what a great imposition lockdown has been because they couldn't go to restaurants I will lose my shit. Especially when they then claim all the public health interventions have been unnecessary.
I have been separated from my partner for 6 months because of closed borders. And frankly that's nothing compared to those who have lost people to the virus, and the new conditions of life for all those who are vulnerable to it because they are older, have health problems, those
who live in really cramped conditions, or have been put in danger by having to go to work through all this, often without adequate PPE. I'm increasingly intolerant of the people who are making arguments to go "back to normal" just for themselves, without understanding that this
Read 5 tweets
25 Aug
Ok, a grumpy thread: this situation is miserable. First day back in class a professor cracks a little joke to a student who is from Wuhan. Student isn’t offended. Professor continues very sympathetically asking the student if he’s been able to go home over the summer and if he
Has a place to stay etc. The video is clipped to just include the joke. All context is removed, and it’s shared on social media. Over half a million people “like” a tweet saying they’re gonna report the professor for xenophobia etc. The professor is the fired from teaching.
This situation is grim and intolerable. Teachers have spent all summer preparing way more than ever for new classes online. The idea that they then have to put them online and have every sentence subjected to the prosecutorial impulses of social media makes teaching impossible.
Read 9 tweets
25 Aug
On the Rule Britannia/Land of Hope and Glory controversy: I grew up going to The Proms. Rushing off from school in the summer to get a 40p bus to the Albert Hall, then to queue and see the best orchestras in the world playing great music for £2.50 or £3. As someone growing up
With not much easy access to music, it was the best experience for learning the repertory, and hearing some amazing performances. I never went to the last night because I didn’t care and wasn’t interested in flag waving or jingoism. What I cared about was music. So, while we’re
On the topic of a bunch loud white men decrying “wokeness” tearing apart our “culture” let’s remember that these same fuckers are the ones who have spent the last decade systematically defunding the arts. Orchestras and concert halls are on their knees. And the situation has been
Read 9 tweets
23 Aug
Why is @BBCNews leading with a headline saying "Children 'more likely to catch virus at home than school'"? This doesn't appear to be a quote from anywhere, not least from the report commissioned by PHE that it is supposedly drawn from (…). Clearly nobody
read the report. Perhaps @BBCFactCheck can look at why @BBCNews is leading with false headlines. Or @BBCHughPym can ask. Or even BBC's More of Less @BBCMoreOrLess could ask. For people who don't have time to read the report, it says that there were few outbreaks in schools, but
where they did occur they correlated with local community incidence. It includes provisos that few children attended and few schools were open in June. It offers no account, in most cases, of whether widespread testing took place in schools after an identified case. And in fact
Read 6 tweets
23 Aug
A thread on COVID and AUTHORITY: The UK government decided that the best way to deal with the pandemic was by authority: government ministers would simply tell people what to do; they would appear daily on podia flanked by scientists; rules would be set with little explanation.
The government's view on science would come first. The science that it was basing its views on would only be published months later, and the conversations about it wouldn't happen in public. The main question was, within this framework, what the government thought it could tell
tell people to do, and what would be considered an overreach.

The trouble is that not only did this authority-based approach not work, but there was no Plan B. Months on the government's authority is in tatters. Nobody believes the slightest thing they say about the science
Read 16 tweets
21 Aug
Dear friends in the UK, this is a graph of what is happening in France. Currently the UK is tracking a similar curve at 2-3 weeks delay. It doesn’t need to be this way. The mass deaths and disabilities a second wave entails are not unavoidable. But to avoid them will require Image
Things to shift. Right now the British government have moved from saying that they want to avoid a second wave to saying that a second wave is inevitable. They are saying that they are unconcerned about returns to school and returns to work despite mounting global evidence of
The dangers. They are still refusing to implement a strategy to bring the virus to the lowest possible levels (near elimination). Meanwhile people who need to quarantine for everyone’s safety are doing everything they can to avoid it. Look for example at the announcement of the
Read 6 tweets
18 Aug
A little thread on tories, exams, and universities: everyone is upset at the manifest unfairness with which teenagers have been treated in the last week. But behind what has happened is not just incompetence. Those at the centre of government have spent a decade promoting a
completely insane philosophy of education. What happened this week is its logical outgrowth. The tory vision of education is one in which in the population there is a variable distribution of "talent". They believe the only task of the education system is to work out who the most
"talented" are, and to nurture them. This is the same for Boris Johnson's idea of being a cornflake rising to the top as it is for Dominic Cummings' theories in his Odyssean Education essay (which then props up this idiotic belief with appeals to old fashioned eugenics and
Read 17 tweets