Dr. Angela Rasmussen Profile picture
Virologist @Columbia. Write @Forbes. Host responses to emerging viruses & systems-level mind-blowing. And pugs. 1X Jeopardy! loser. Rep: @anniescranton. she/her
otaria123 Profile picture Adam Smithee Profile picture RC Profile picture Karen Salitis Profile picture John Bujnoch Profile picture 17 added to My Authors
5 Jul 20
@mgubrud @Ryan_Mac_Phd @moodiemanda @nytimes Some examples of Dr. Feigl-Ding’s misinformation:
1. Incorrectly explained and interpreted R0
2. Claimed without evidence that the D614G mutation makes SARS-CoV-2 more transmissible
3. Claimed that airborne transmission is widespread on multiple occasions
@mgubrud @Ryan_Mac_Phd @moodiemanda @nytimes 4. Gave credence to conspiracy theories that SARS-CoV-2 was engineered and either accidentally or intentionally released from a lab
5. Claimed to have invented the concept of digital contact tracing several years ago
6. Regularly confuses different types of PPE
@mgubrud @Ryan_Mac_Phd @moodiemanda @nytimes 7. Posted about droplet aerodynamics studies that didn’t look at virus and claimed they were evidence of airborne transmission
8. Reported that a high positivity rate in testing data from Mexico meant it’s more transmissible (it actually means there’s insufficient testing)
Read 9 tweets
2 Jul 20
@elonmusk @JBNielsen1985 @hot_rod_co Every single hospital in the nation is not at capacity. That's not going to help critically ill patients--with COVID-19 or otherwise--who need an ICU bed in Phoenix or Houston. It's also why it's not useful to look at national averages when trying to assess risk in hotspots.
@elonmusk @JBNielsen1985 @hot_rod_co Put in other terms, if you had a major production failure at a Tesla factory in California, would you look at average production across all Tesla factories around the world to best address that factory's specific problems? I would not, but then again, I am not an expert on that.
Read 2 tweets
2 Jul 20
@elonmusk @hot_rod_co There are not a "ridiculous number of false positive C19 tests", at least not if you are talking about the qPCR test (antibody tests are a different story, but those are not the tests in question here). Here's an EUA for a representative qPCR test:
@elonmusk @hot_rod_co These tests are highly specific, meaning a low rate of false positives. The bigger issue with qPCR diagnostics is sensitivity, or false negatives. The currently used qPCR tests are in this range.
Read 6 tweets
29 Jun 20
Okay, I'm seeing a lot of "the end is nigh"-type posts as well as a lot of people misunderstanding this story, so let's talk about "pandemic potential" for #influenza viruses
This is based on this report in @PNASNews. The paper is behind a paywall, unfortunately, but this isn't journal club: let's just go over the basics of #pandemic #flu.
Flu viruses are segmented, meaning their genomes are divided into 8 pieces of RNA. This means that if multiple flu strains infect the same host, they can basically shuffle their genes and form what we call reassortants.
Read 25 tweets
26 Jun 20
I've been reluctant to criticize Dr. Deborah Birx because she's the only woman in an overwhelmingly male #coronavirus task force and she has a long history of doing critical work to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

That ends today. She lied to the American public.
She lied about testing. She parroted political talking points disguised as data. It is abundantly clear that she is complicit with the current administration's efforts to politicize and dismiss the seriousness of the public health crisis we are facing. I've lost respect for her.
She has squandered the public's trust by submitting to the political considerations of the administration. She has chosen pleasing her boss over protecting public health. She has supported a disastrous response and has failed the American people. Dr. Birx should resign.
Read 3 tweets
16 Jun 20
Woke up to Twitter going wild about #dexamethasone treatment for #SARSCoV2 #COVID19 #coronavirus infection.

Went to look at the paper. Still looking...uh oh, this looks like another case of trial results by press release, a very unfortunate trend.
"Results were announced Tuesday and researchers said they would publish them soon."

Okay, great. How soon is "soon"? Because according to this @BBCNews article, this should immediately be used as treatment for severely ill #COVID19 patients.
Press reports say this trial found it significantly reduced risk of death for patients requiring oxygen or on ventilators. Per PI Peter Horby: "This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality - and it reduces it significantly. It's a major breakthrough."
Read 15 tweets
11 Jun 20
I spoke to @EdCara4 @Gizmodo about using the oral polio vaccine to provide *some* protection against #SARSCoV2 #COVID19 #coronavirus.

The observation that vaccines induce non-specific immunity to other unrelated viruses is interesting, but I'm also a bit skeptical...
Here's the perspective piece in @ScienceMagazine. The authors propose using the oral polio vaccine to stimulate innate immune responses that would be protective against other viral pathogens besides polio virus.
This proposal is based on the observation that various other studies have observed reductions in incidence, morbidity, and mortality to other viruses in the past. They hypothesize that this is based on vaccine-induced activation of antiviral innate immunity.
Read 19 tweets
10 Jun 20
It's really important to understand how the atrocities committed by Leopold II are still impacting the world today, especially as a new #Ebola outbreak is occurring in the DRC. In my own experience, this colonialist legacy still disproportionately impacts public health.
In 2016, I attended a Filovirus meeting convened to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the emergence of #Ebola in Yambuku, then in the country of Zaire. This meeting took place in Antwerpen, Belgium, and was locally hosted by the Antwerp Institute for Tropical Medicine.
Off to a bad start already: the Antwerp Institute for Tropical Medicine was founded in 1906 by Leopold II to train doctors to treat Belgian colonists carrying out his genocidal, exploitive agenda against Congolese people in what was then called the Congo Free State.
Read 17 tweets
8 Jun 20
So anti-abortion activists are now demanding that the US not fund vaccines made with cell lines derived from legally aborted fetuses. This is a shameful distraction from the urgent need for a vaccine.
One of the cell lines in question, HEK293, is an essential tool for almost all molecular and cell biology work. Let me explain briefly why these cells are important and essential for vaccine development.
When you take cells from any living mammal and try to culture them, they don't divide indefinitely. After a few rounds of cell division, they hit what's called the "Hayflick limit" and senesce, or stop dividing. Here's the basics from Wikipedia:
Read 23 tweets
5 Jun 20
@amymaxmen @Ammer_B @KrutikaKuppalli @MackayIM @KindrachukJason @Crof It's terribly annoying because even though the type species is technically Sudan ebolavirus, the prototypic virus is Sudan virus as opposed to the old Sudan Ebola virus. Some people get REALLY bent out of shape if you use the old SEBOV abbreviation instead of the new SUDV.
@amymaxmen @Ammer_B @KrutikaKuppalli @MackayIM @KindrachukJason @Crof And yes, this was supposed to be less confusing because people giving talks would talk about ZEBOV, SEBOV, and CIEBOV. So now they are EBOV, SUDV, and TAFV (since Cote d'Ivoire Ebola virus was changed to Tai Forest virus). But they're all still technically species of ebolaviruses
@amymaxmen @Ammer_B @KrutikaKuppalli @MackayIM @KindrachukJason @Crof And to make things even MORE confusing, they changed the term for the clinical disease from Ebola hemorrhagic fever to Ebola virus disease (actually good since ebolaviruses don't always cause HF). Since now there's only one Ebola virus, all the ebolaviruses get their own disease.
Read 3 tweets
5 Jun 20
No. At least there's no evidence that this is the case.

Also, I'd like to take a moment to complain about a tendency of the media to describe sources as "leading" or "top" epidemiologists/virologists/physicians/etc. This implies some sort of academic ranking with no evidence.
What makes someone a "leading virologist"? Papers? Academic rank/seniority? Grant funding? TV appearances? There's no consensus about how we judge the average scientist's standing in the field, so if a reporter decides someone is "leading" or "top" it's relatively meaningless.
"Leading" or "top" are meaningless terms and don't describe the basis for a given scientist's qualifications to comment. The public should assess a scientist's credibility based on their expertise, not a subjective, arbitrary judgment of their standing in the field.
Read 3 tweets
4 Jun 20
Whoa. The authors of that observational study of 96K patients taking hydroxychloroquine have retracted it, since Surgisphere wouldn't allow a panel of independent reviewers access to their data.

That's really unfortunate and unacceptable.
The authors who requested retraction should be commended for addressing issues raised about the Surgisphere database and taking appropriate action. Reproducibility and transparency are central tenets of biomedical research, especially for public health crises like a pandemic.
Surgisphere's lack of transparency and refusal to share data is really harmful. We need actionable information about COVID therapies, including HCQ. We need that information to be untainted by preventable issues like a refusal to share raw data.
Read 3 tweets
4 Jun 20
@loupgarous @propublica SARS-CoV-2 is not a select agent. We don't know how many cases of COVID-19 will result from these protests, but tear gas may well amplify the risk of transmission. They are dangerous, no question, but so is the racism that has motivated them. Both are public health crises.
@loupgarous @propublica Furthermore, the protestors are taking precautions to observe physical distancing guidelines, hand hygiene, and wear masks. They are trying to protest as safely as possible in general. I'd guess that protesting outdoors while reducing prolonged proximity to others is safer...
@loupgarous @propublica ...than going to a crowded restaurant or bar. The increased cases we are seeing now are linked to unfettered reopening of crowded businesses and events coupled with subpar testing and contact tracing capacity. It's hard to predict how many cases will result from protests.
Read 3 tweets
4 Jun 20
I've been asked by multiple media outlets about tear gas and how it affects #SARSCoV2 transmission or #COVID19 severity. I don't know. I've never had occasion to think about the effects of tear gas on respiratory virus pathogenesis during a pandemic.
I don't even know if tear gas and viral infection has been studied. I could only find one paper from 30 years ago indexed in PubMed, and I couldn't access it. Besides, it looks like it's probably a commentary rather than an original research article.
But from @lisalsong @propublica's reporting, it certainly sounds like tear gas has some pretty predictable consequences. A few studies show that, while tear gas is *USUALLY* not lethal, it is linked to long-term respiratory problems:
Read 16 tweets
2 Jun 20
I had the great pleasure of discussing vaccines for #SARSCoV2 #COVID19 #coronavirus on @MPRnews this morning with @KerriMPR. I was especially glad to join my colleague from @UW, Dr. Deborah Fuller, and hear about her lab's exciting vaccine work
Dr. Fuller's lab recently released an excellent pre-print describing some really fantastic preclinical results from a new #SARSCoV2 vaccine they developed:
This vaccine is like the Moderna vaccine in that it uses RNA to generate immune responses against #SARSCoV2 spike (S) protein, but with a twist. Instead of using messenger RNA (mRNA) to express S, this vaccine uses a RNA replicon. What is that, you ask?
Read 13 tweets
31 May 20
@JeremyKonyndyk @meechebucco @Craig_A_Spencer Okay, this is much easier than what I did.
1. Made levain in a sous vide cooker water bath to control temperature.
2. Autolyse w/o salt for 1.5 hrs.
3. Mixed levain with autolyse, incubated at RT for 1 hr
4. Added salt & performed 6 sets of stretch and folds at 30 min intervals
@JeremyKonyndyk @meechebucco @Craig_A_Spencer 5. Bulk fermentation at RT for another 1.5 hrs. Transferred to proofing basket at bedtime. Set out in our kitchen foyer where it's always cold.
6. Next morning, heated Dutch oven in 450 F oven.
7. Realized dough was all over the basket and made disastrous mess on parchment paper
@JeremyKonyndyk @meechebucco @Craig_A_Spencer 8. Managed to get it into Dutch oven, baked with lid for 30 minutes.
9. Baked another 30 min with no lid.
10. Tried to convince my angry spouse scrubbing dough cement out of the sink that our marriage could be saved and tried to ply him with my sad bread.
Read 6 tweets
30 May 20
As a #COVIDcliche sourdough baker, I have to say making bread isn’t very comforting to me. It’s a huge pain in the ass. I do it because I’m lazy and it’s mostly waiting around, I am too busy to commit to a puzzle, I like to flex as a microbiologist, and I like fresh bread.
I do NOT like scrubbing dough off hands and bowls, flour everywhere, constant temperature measuring, trying to pull complicated chemistry shit off in my 1996 model Hotpoint oven, or driving hours to buy artisanal flour. Feeding my starter is like splitting cells: a goddamn chore.
Then there are the times I forget about the starter. One time it grew some really revolting brown slime mold that looked like diarrhea. Other times it smells like acetone and I have to heap in pounds of flour to get the damn culture out of starvation mode.
Read 7 tweets
30 May 20
Hi @united. I’m 1K and I’m a virologist. While social distancing of 6 feet may not be possible on a plane, not blocking middle seats to allow for physical distancing is not a scientifically defensible position. thepointsguy.com/news/united-ai…
Studies modeling droplet transmission on planes suggest that physical proximity is a critical determinant of transmissibility on planes. It should be minimized. pnas.org/content/115/14…
I look forward to the day that I’ll be on another @united aircraft but I hope that you will reconsider taking the necessary measures to maximize passenger and crew safety. Blocking middle seats is a simple and straightforward way to do this.
Read 3 tweets
30 May 20
It’s always really credible when an #antivaxxer points to a paper as conclusive data (“breaking #science news) using a screenshot of the abstract that cuts off the name of the journal and doesn’t link to the study itself. Here’s why this is disingenuous:
If this paper is such a conclusive slam dunk, why wouldn’t you want your audience to go see the data in all its vaccine-damning glory? Well, @gorskon did so you don’t have to. There are...a LOT of problems with study design, analysis, and sampling.
Then there’s the journal it’s published in...SAGE Open Medicine. This open access journal does put papers through peer review but it’s not...very stringent. This publishing model relies on authors paying for their papers to be published.
Read 9 tweets
28 May 20
This is a great thread and something I've been thinking about a lot. Discussion about novel virus emergence often implicates an obvious culprit (wildlife trade, research labs), but historically this isn't really correct. Emergence is often a case of unfortunate coincidence.
As Dr. Carlson points out, Ebola emergence is not linked to the global wildlife trade. In cases where Ebola has emerged due to wildlife being traded, it's usually from people hunting animals to eat or sell locally, not international endangered species smuggling.
Even more troubling, this need to assign blame for pathogen emergence gets really racist really fast. Why is wild game hunted in Africa referred to as "bush meat" rather than wild game? Why don't we refer to venison from deer or elk in North America as "bush meat"?
Read 15 tweets
25 May 20
People who disagree with my take on (hydroxychloroquine/masks/Trump/whatever) looooove quote tweeting this back at me, presumably to underscore that I was WRONG and lack credibility. So I’d like to take a moment to talk about uncertainty.
I tweeted this on January 26th. At the time, data suggested the virus was spreading within China. There were few cases in the US. We wouldn’t know there was widespread community transmission until late February. I was wrong in hindsight, but correct at the time w/ data I had then
I was uncertain about the #COVID19 pandemic, so I gave the best advice I could based on what was more certain with the evidence I had then: flu, in January, was a bigger risk in the US.
Read 17 tweets