A bit concerned by scientists claiming with absolute certainty that VOCs will not evade vaccine responses & that this has never happened in 'real people'. This has happened in clinical trials & dismissing very real risks provides false reassurance & prevents pre-emptive action.
First, I want to say that the current variant dominant in the UK at 98-99% is the Kent variant (B.1.1.7), and the vaccines being used in the UK are highly effective against preventing symptomatic and severe disease with this.
Please do take the vaccine if you are offered it.
Vaccines are a hugely important resource. And it's important to address the real risks posed to vaccine efficacy by new variants- rather than dismiss these without basis. This is the only way we can take pre-emptive action to protect vaccine resources. Which we must try to do.
Correcting some aspects here- 1. There have been outbreaks of the B.1.351 variants in primaries, and resulted in surge testing in schools 2. Schools in Scotland partly opened on the 22nd Feb (primaries), & positivity rates in children have increased several fold since
Scotland school age data can be downloaded from the ONS Infection Survey.
And I don't believe Eric was implying that 5x increase in B.1.617 is related to schools being open alone - but rather that variants tend to spread more easily as restrictions are eased- and school openings have resulted in significant rises in positivity in school age children.
Worth remembering that there wasn't data on the Kent , SA & Manaus variants for months-which was used to suggest that these weren't that concerning then. There never are data when VOCs are identified as this takes time. It isn't 'alarmist' to advise caution- it's sensible.
Tired of suggestions we shouldn't communicate real concerns based on early data because this is 'alarmist'. If we were to wait for data to accumulate before taking any action, when risks are high in the midst of a pandemic, we would always be firefighting, rather than preventing.
And that's exactly where we are in the UK. Because even scientific colleagues consistently misinterpret lack of evidence as meaning that there isn't much risk- so we don't need to really do much. I've heard this again & again. And it's really impacted our pandemic response.
An important thread about our failed border policy that's not prevented entry of major VOCs & B.1.617 into the UK. Also want to highlight that it's important we do away with 'lists' altogether- this variant has been in the UK since Feb, well before India recognised it as a VUI.
This is because it takes time for variants to take off and be identified in surveillance as problematic (let's remember the Kent variant was here in Sept, but was only labelled a VOC in December, by which time it'd probably spread to many other regions).
As SAGE has said before, the only way to prevent variants entering is comprehensive border restrictions - for all people coming in for at least 14 days in managed quarantine facilities. Red lists are not going to be sufficient in and of themselves.
Really want this to be true, but am concerned about this variant- Here's why. 1. L452R mutation has been associated with T cell escape & higher infectivity 2. rapid increase in frequency of B.1.617 in India closely mirrors the increase in cases temporally & geographically
I'm going to come to the mutations, but the rapid rise in frequency of the variant in India closely mirrors the current exponential rise in cases- an increase of >10x in a month. I don't know the full ascertainment protocol here, but hard to not see this increase as concerning.
With caveats around ascertainment, it is also interesting that B.1.1.7 which has spread very rapidly across the UK, and Europe doesn't seem to have risen in frequency substantially in the presence of B.1.617 during the same period, which is also unusual, given the fitness of B117
Not only do we are we continuing to see rises of the so-called South Africa variant, despite efforts to contain it, we also seem to have imported the double mutant from India - with *77* cases identified so far. When were these identified? And why isn't the govt acting?
Have all these 77 new variants have been identified within the past week? And what is the extent of spread within the community?
Worth keeping in mind that despite knowledge of the double mutant spreading, India has not been on the red list for travel.
What are the features of this new variant?
It has the E484Q mutation (at the same position as the E484K mutation in the SA and Manaus variants), which is of concern with respect to possible escape from vaccines, and natural immunity against previous variants.
@jburnmurdoch Absolutely, and I'm not saying the declines are down to Easter- I've linked you to the thread by @ChrisGiles_ that shows that recent estimates from the ONS always show plateaus and declines. It's the trends before recent times that are reliable- and quite clear in direction.
@jburnmurdoch@ChrisGiles_ What I'm saying here is that one cannot conclude at all that school openings did not result in a surge in cases, as the data support that they did- both in Scotland (where schools have been open longer) & in England. The REACT-1 data also support this.
@jburnmurdoch@ChrisGiles_ It's very hard to explain the rises in cases in England & Scotland in recent times after school openings, given the trend was consistently downward prior to this, with very low infection rates in children (you can see this in the previous ONS data).
If anyone at this point things that school openings haven't resulted in a surge in cases among school-age children, I'd urge them to look at the latest ONS data. There's been an *8-fold* increase in positivity in Scotland among children since schools opened on the 22nd Feb.
Recent trends less reliable, so need to be interpreted with caution, as outlined. We should expect to see positivity declines in line with Easter break - but should prepare for surges again once schools-re-open. Urgent need for mitigations in both primary & 2ndary schools.
Thanks to @BibblerBrizzy for pointing out that Easter break in Scotland started on the 2nd April and *not* on 26th March, as indicated in the graph for Scotland (sorry about the error - the 26th was the start for much of England).
Just worth clarifying that this isn't correct. Both the ONS & REACT-1 data show clear rises in infection rates among school age children- both in England & Scotland since schools opened- with highest prevalence among these age groups. Expect to see plateauing over Easter break.
We need to look at the raw ONS data- which I've plotted here. Even in the extremely short period schools were open in England after 8th March (later for some secondaries), we see rather rapid rises among school age groups. Schools recently closed for Easter.
Looking at Scotland data, where schools have been open for longer (P1-3 opened on 22nd Feb) - positivity among children has increased from 0.10% to 0.80% - 8 fold increase. It's impossible to look at this and conclude that school openings have not resulted in a rise in cases.
Important to note first that the study only included survivors- so people who had survived for at least 6 months following infection were included.
Several neurological and psychiatric outcomes were examined in electronic health record data from health-care facilities.
Healthcare facilities data were collected from including primary care facilities, hospitals, specialist units, ICUs. It's unclear from the study how representative these are of infection across the general population (i.e. who would have ended up in the study if infected)
It's been rather disconcerting to have had false claims made about my conduct by someone I've never engaged with directly. I wrote about this earlier & bizarrely, since, even more false claims have been made.
While the claims are false, the targeting has been very real. 🧵
In the thread above I addressed a false claim made about me by another scientist @sailorooscout - the claim being I had engaged in 'name-calling' and 'degrading' conduct against them - when I hadn't engaged with them at all. I reasonably asked that this be corrected by them.
It became very clear that I didn't engage in the behaviour claimed by @sailorooscout
Rather than acknowledging the claim was incorrect, they suggested I 'forget quickly', linking to a tweet that hadn't been written/liked by me. It seems to have been by one of their followers.
I'm seeing very concerning attacks against scientists seeking to provide accurate information around vaccine efficacy- especially in the context of new variants, or legitimately discussing the recent reports of thrombotic events associated with Astrazeneca. Short thread.
I'm sure many saw an exchange a few weeks ago, that was also platformed in the Spectator, which is quite odd given the context. In this exchange, a scientist urging pandemic control due to concerns about low efficacy of vaccines against the B.1.351 variant was met with attacks.
The account suggesting @devisridhar tweet was misleading complained they were blocked by her after the interaction. This was picked up by the Spectator & presented in negative light. This seems odd as this account has pre-emptively blocked me & others.
Some early thoughts on today's briefing from the PM and scientific advisors. Is the govt strategy sensible? And is it truly 'following the data', or evidence led? 🧵
First- this is not a policy of pandemic control. The govts plan out of lockdown makes clear that the focus isn't on controlling transmission as long as NHS capacity isn't breached. R/case no.s are not one of the govts tests, as long as our NHS doesn't break.
Is this sensible?
No. This is exactly the same strategy that brought us ~150,000 deaths and 1.1 million estimated people living with long COVID. We know that hospitalisations can remain just 'within capacity' while leading to tens of thousands of deaths, and hundreds of thousands with long COVID
Sadly it did. Prevalence among school age children *doubled* in Scotland since schools opened - as per the ONS data (the most accurate data we have on infection), and is the highest across all age groups. Why does the media consistently get this wrong?
Can anyone look at this graph, and suggest that school openings in scotland didn't contribute to transmission? Yet, our media has consistently said this - despite the very clear evidence we have to the contrary. What is going on?
This isn't the only piece I've seen that claims this- several pieces over the past week make this completely false claim. This is the sort of misinformation that's entrenched in our media- and I honestly don't know how we address this.
I'm hearing worrying rhetoric from scientists suggesting that children don't suffer from 'severe illness' so may not need vaccination. Let's look at the evidence around this. How severe in SARS-CoV-2 in children, and what are the impacts of transmission occurring among children?
We've heard repeatedly, even from scientists that children are less susceptible to infection or transmission- a narrative that seems to suggest children are less likely to get infected. We know now that this is simply not the case.
Indeed, as this point in time, young children have highest positivity rates in England & Scotland (shown below), with rises having occurred soon after school re-openings in both regions. We also know that infection rates were highest in primary & secondary age groups in December.
ONS survey data out today- looking at the pandemic by age paints a heterogenous picture. We appear to be having two different pandemics- one accelerating among young children since schools re-opened, alongside declines in older age groups possibly due to vaccination/lockdown 🧵
Infection prevalence appears to have decreased slightly in England, level in Wales, with increases in Northern Ireland, and slight decrease in Scotland after increases the last few weeks.
Infection rates appear highest, and rising among primary school children, followed by secondary school children & 35-49 yr olds. While this is a general population, survey data, it seems consistent with what we're seeing in symptom-based case data from PHE as well (discuss later)
Very concerning piece by @NafeezAhmed at @BylineTimes suggesting that @educationgovuk review of face-covering policies in schools is “skewing evidence” to justify “dumping face-covering requirements and mitigations rather than strengthening them”.
This is truly bizarre given current DfE policy is well behind evidence on aerosol transmission, and behind most European, and other countries, where mask use is recommended in primaries & secondaries irrespective of distancing.
Also shocking, given data from the ONS today showing increases in infection among primary and secondary school children across England & Scotland after school re-opening, with infection rates being highest currently among primaries compared to all other age groups.
Data from the ONS on long COVID just out- this is one of the most comprehensive studies on long COVID across the globe- based on a survey across England.
What does it show?
Based on self-reported long COVID (given many weren't tested early in the pandemic), an estimated 1.1 million people were living with long COVID in March 2021. Of these, ~478,000 report some impact on day to day life, and ~196,000 reported a lot of impact on daily functioning.
~700K have had symptoms for over 12 weeks, with ~473K having symptoms lasting more than 6 months.
43,000 children estimated to be living with long COVID. Illness appears to predominate in young adults, and women.
Not only has UFT, a lobbying group with non-transparent funding & connections to the CRG & tory govt had a hugely damaging impact on school policy, they're actively working to strip back even the woefully inadequate protections we have in schools. We should be v. worried.🧵
The @educationgovuk is currently carrying out on review on masking policy in schools. Currently masks are recommended for secondaries when distancing cannot be maintained. Even this is completely inadequate, but the review may mean even these basic protections are stripped back.
What is this review considering? Nothing has been made public yet. It appears that unions have been asked to respond to questions about adherence, tolerance, harms & benefits. But how does the review consider the key benefit of mask use- reduction in transmission?
Wow. It's astonishing to see the extent to which scientists who have repeatedly promoted narratives that have turned out to be false & damaging to COVID pandemic control will go to try and salvage their reputations, by targeting academics who have challenged false claims.
The paper concludes an IFR of 0.15% for SARS-CoV-2. So essentially a 100 million people would have needed to be infected in the UK to have deaths of ~150,000, as we do now. Bizarre, given the UK population is 67 million... How did this get past peer review?
ONS data just out- as expected, clear rises in SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in Scotland. Levelling off in all other regions, and rises in several regions in England. Positivity highest among primary & secondary school children across all age groups & trending upwards. Thread.
Rises in overall infection prevalence in Scotland earlier than other regions are in line with earlier openings of primaries, and rises in confirmed cases in the 0-14 yr age group, as discussed earlier on this thread.