• COVID-19 isn’t just a cold

    This thread is long, and hard to read - not just because of the technical language, but because “it’s just a cold,” “the vaccine protects me,” and “at least our children are safe” are comforting fairy tales.

    I wish they were true.

    This virus is like measles and polio: a virus with long-term impact.

    Even a “mild” case in a vaccinated individual can lead to long-term issues which cause a measurable uptick in all-cause mortality in the first 6 months, and get progressively worse with time.

    SARS-CoV-2 is a systemic disease which has multiple avenues to induce long-term impairment, attacking the brain, heart, lungs, blood, testes, colon, liver, and lymph nodes, causing persistent symptoms in more than half of patients by six months out.

    The CoVHORT study, limited to non-hospitalized patients in Arizona - “mild” cases - found a 68% prevalence of 1 or more Covid symptom after 30 days, rising to 77% after 60 days. (We will explore an explanation later).

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0254347

    To prevent panic, @CDCgov has been using the term “mild” to describe any case of COVID-19 which does not require hospitalization.

    #LongCOVID, however, is anything but “mild”, as the replies to @ahandvanish’s thread make heartbreakingly clear.

    https://twitter.com/ahandvanish/status/1423017721822949376

    A University of Washington study found that 30% of Covid patients had reduced Health Related Quality of Life, with 8% of the patients limited in routine daily activities.

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2776560

    These patients are struggling with real physical issues.

    This Yale study demonstrated reduced aerobic capacity, oxygen extraction. and ventilatory efficiency in “mild” COVID patients even after recovery from their acute infection.

    https://journal.chestnet.org/article/S0012-3692(21)03635-7/abstract

    It’s also a vascular disease. A Columbia study found “significantly altered lipid metabolism” during acute disease, which “suggests a significant impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on red blood cell structural membrane homeostasis.”

    https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.jproteome.0c00606

    Oregon Health & Science University found that “symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection is associated with increased risk of [fatal] cardiovascular outcomes and has causal effect on all-cause mortality.”

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.12.27.21268448v1

    Let’s review: SARS-CoV-2 causes an increase in mortality and reduced aerobic capacity even after asymptomatic cases, and remains in the body months after the initial infection.

    No, it’s not “just a cold.”

    But we’re just getting started. It gets worse. Way worse.

    The virus appears to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier and cause significant neurological damage.

    The ability of the spike protein to cross the blood-brain barrier was demonstrated in mice at the University of Washington.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33328624

    A joint study by Stanford and Germany’s Saarland University found inflammation in the brain, and “show[ed] that peripheral T cells infiltrate the parenchyma.”

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03710-0

    For context, the parenchyma is the functional tissue of the brain - your neurons and glial cells. It isn’t normally where T cells are:

    “In the brain of healthy individuals, T cells are only present sporadically in the parenchyma.”

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6751344

    The Stanford study also discovered microglia and astrocytes which displayed “features .. that have previously been reported in human neurodegenerative disease.”

    Post-mortem neuropathology in Hamburg, Germany found “Infiltration by cytotoxic T lymphocytes .. in the brainstem and cerebellum, [with] meningeal cytotoxic T lymphocyte infiltration seen in 79% [of] patients.”

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1474442220303082#

    An autopsy of a 14-month-old at Brazil’s Federal University of Rio de Janeiro found that “The brain exhibited severe atrophy and neuronal loss.”

    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanam/article/PIIS2667-193X(21)00038-7/abstract

    The UK Biobank COVID-19 re-imaging study compared before and after images of “mild” cases, and found “pronounced reduction in grey matter” and an “increase of diffusion indices, a marker of tissue damage” in specific regions of the brain.

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.06.11.21258690v3

    That seems to explain why there is evidence of persistent cognitive deficits in people who have recovered from SARS-CoV2 infection in Great Britain.

    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(21)00324-2/fulltext

    Also worrisome are syncytia, where an infected cell extrudes its own spike protein and takes over its neighbors, fusing together to create a large multi-nucleus cell.

    Delta’s particular aptitude for this may partly explain its severity.

    https://www.news-medical.net/news/20211006/SARS-CoV-2-emerging-variants-display-enhanced-syncytia-formation.aspx

    And, yes, syncytia formation can happen in neurons. For our visual learners, here is video of syncytia and apoptosis (cell death) in a (bat) brain:

    https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1429604323047133185

    Luckily, the University of Glasgow found that “Whilst Delta is optimised for fusion at the cell surface, Omicron .. achieves entry through endosomal fusion. This switch .. offers [an] explanation for [its] reduced syncytia formation.”

    https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/Media_829360_smxx.pdf

    If you’re interested in further understanding the host of neurological symptoms and the mechanisms underlying them, this Nature article is an excellent primer:

    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01693-6

    Let’s review: SARS-CoV-2 can cross the blood-brain barrier, and even “mild” or asymptomatic cases can cause loss of neurons and persistent cognitive defects?

    That doesn’t sound “mild” to me; I like my brain.

    But it keeps getting worse.

    The brain isn’t the only organ affected: Testicular pathology has found evidence of “SARS-Cov-2 antigen in Leydig cells, Sertoli cells, spermatogonia, and fibroblasts” in post-morten examination.

    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/andr.13073

    A Duke pathology study in Singapore “detected SARS-CoV-2 .. in the colon, appendix, ileum, haemorrhoid, liver, gallbladder and lymph nodes .. suggesting widespread multiorgan involvement of the viral infection.”

    https://gut.bmj.com/content/gutjnl/early/2021/06/13/gutjnl-2021-324280.full.pdf#page1

    The same study found “evidence of residual virus in .. tissues during the convalescent phase, up to 6 months after recovery, in a non-postmortem setting,” suggesting that “a negative swab result might not necessarily indicate complete viral clearance from the body.”

    It also causes microclots: “Fibrin(ogen) amyloid microclots and platelet hyperactivation [were] observed in [Long COVID] patients,” in this work by Stellenbosch University of South Africa, which also explored potential treatments.

    https://www.researchsquare.com/article/rs-1205453/v1

    Let’s review - SARS-CoV2 attacks our veins, blood, heart, brain, testes, colon, appendix, liver, gallbladder and lymph nodes?

    No, it’s not “just a respiratory virus”.

    Not even close.

    There are also immunology implications:

    Johns Hopkins’ @fitterhappierAJ found that “CD95-mediated [T cell] differentiation and death may be advancing T cells to greater effector acquisition, fewer numbers, and immune dysregulation.”

    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2020.600405/full

    This Chinese military study of the initial Wuhan outbreak concluded that “T cell counts are reduced significantly in COVID-19 patients, and the surviving T cells appear functionally exhausted.”

    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2020.00827/full

    The study authors went on to warn, “Non-ICU patients with total T cells counts lower than 800/μL may still require urgent intervention, even in the immediate absence of more severe symptoms due to a high risk for further deterioration in condition.”

    Those warnings have since been proven by discovery of autoimmune features.

    This study of 177 Los Angeles healthcare workers found that all had persistent self-attacking antibodies at least 6 months after infection, regardless of illness severity.

    https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12967-021-03184-8

    In the words of T-cell immunologist Dr. Leonardi (@fitterhappierAJ)

    https://twitter.com/fitterhappierAJ/status/1475227891034210314

    This Kaiser Permanente S.California study found that, although natural immunity provided substantial protection against reinfection, “Hospitalization was more common at suspected reinfection (11.4%) than initial infection (5.4%).”

    https://www.clinicalmicrobiologyandinfection.com/article/S1198-743X(21)00422-5/abstract

    In fact, remember those cytokine storms? It turns out that even that even severe COVID-19 may not be a viral pneumonia, but an autoimmune attack of the lung.

    https://twitter.com/DaveLeeERMD/status/1413816137570205697

    Let’s review - it’s autoimmune: SARS-CoV2 convinces our body to attack itself.

    That might explain why the Arizona study saw more symptoms after 60 days than at 30 days.

    It also means “natural immunity” isn’t something to count on.

    But if you’re counting on vaccination to feel safe, there’s even more bad news.

    A study of Israel healthcare workers found that “Most breakthrough cases were mild or asymptomatic, although 19% had persistent symptoms (>6 weeks).”

    https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2109072

    Perhaps the most terrifying study is from Oxford University, which examined the effects of vaccination on long COVID symptoms, because not only did it find that vaccination does not protect against Long Covid, but that Long Covid symptoms become more likely over time:

    In the words of the study authors, “vaccination does not appear to be protective against .. long-COVID features, arrhythmia, joint pain, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, sleep disorders, and mood and anxiety disorders."

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.10.26.21265508v3

    “The narrow confidence intervals rule out the possibility that these negative findings are merely a result of lack of statistical power. The inclusion of death in a composite endpoint with these outcomes rules out survivorship bias as an explanation.”

    That finding contradicts the findings from the UK Zoe app study, which found that “the odds of having symptoms for 28 days or more after post-vaccination infection were approximately halved by having two vaccine doses.”

    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(21)00460-6/fulltext

    However, the structural limitations of the Zoe study - discussed in detail by @dgurdasani1 in the linked thread - may explain why it is particularly susceptible to bias against detecting a progressive degenerative condition.

    https://twitter.com/dgurdasani1/status/1422802883632893952

    Let’s review: we’ve now shown that vaccination appears to offer no protection against the long-term autoimmune effects of COVID - which we know causes T-cells to attack the lungs, and can cause T-cells to enter the brain.

    Why are we letting this run wild?!

    You may think, at least our children are safe.

    They are not.

    The CDC is tracking incidence of a life-threatening multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children following an acute COVID-19 infection, with 5,973 cases as of November 30, 2021.

    https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#mis-national-surveillance

    Children also suffer from Long Covid.

    “More than half [of pediatric patients] reported at least one persisting symptom even 120 days [after] COVID-19, with 42.6% impaired by these symptoms during daily activities.”

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.01.23.21250375v1

    Focusing exclusively on pediatric deaths is vastly underselling the danger to children.

    Anybody telling you that SARS-CoV-2 is “just a cold” or “safe for children” is lying to you. They are ignoring the massive body of research that indicates that it is anything but.

    Since our vaccines don’t stop transmission, and don’t appear to stop long-term illness, a “vaccination only” strategy is not going to be sufficient to prevent mass disability.

    This isn’t something we want to expose our kids to.

    Let’s review: even for children and vaccinated people, a “mild” case of COVID causes symptoms that point to long-term autoimmune issues, potentially causing our own body to attack our brains, hearts, and lungs.

    Scared? Good.

    Now we’re ready to get to work.

    “This is the virus most Americans don’t know. We were born into a world where a virus was a thing you got over in a few weeks.” — @sgeekfemale, to whom I owe a “thank you” for her editing assistance on this thread.

    The viruses they know in Kolkota, Kinshasa, and Wuhan are different: dangerous, lethal beasts.

    Since 2020, the field has been leveled. Willing or no, we’ve rejoined the rest of the world. We are, all of us, vulnerable in the face of an unfamiliar threat.

    The first step is acknowledging the threat.

    That means acknowledging that our response has been woefully inadequate, and that is going to be uncomfortable.

    The thought that we could have prevented this, but didn’t, will feel unconscionable to some.

    The knowledge that we could start preventing this today, but haven’t, is unconscionable to me.

    https://twitter.com/IanRicksecker/status/1426584062827712512

    It’s time to quit pretending “it’s just a cold,” or that there is some magical law of viruses that will make it evolve to an acceptable level.

    There’s no such law of evolution, just wishful thinking, easily disproven by:

    Ebola. Smallpox. Marburg. Polio. Malaria.

    There are things we can do to reduce our individual risk, immediately.

    That starts with wearing a good mask - an N95 or better - and choosing to avoid things like indoor dining and capacity-crowd stadiums.

    https://twitter.com/LazarusLong13/status/1440398111445188618

    This isn’t a choice of “individual freedom” vs “public health”. It isn’t “authoritarian” to ask people to change their behavior in order to save lives.

    https://www.thehastingscenter.org/individual-freedom-or-public-health-a-false-choice-in-the-covid-e

    As Arnold @Schwarzenegger argued so convincingly in @TheAtlantic, it is our patriotic duty:

    “Generations of Americans made incredible sacrifices, and we’re going to throw fits about putting a mask over our mouth and nose?”

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/08/schwarzenegger-schmuck-mask-vaccines/619746

    “Those who would sacrifice essential liberty for a little bit of temporary security deserve neither!”

    What is the essential liberty here?

    It is the liberty to be able to breathe clean air, to live our lives without infecting our families and risking disability.

    To get there, we need to listen to our epidemiologists and public health experts - the ones who have been trying to tell us this since the beginning:

    https://twitter.com/EpiEllie/status/1444088804961304581

    It is time — long past time — to give up on the lazy fantasy that we can let it become “endemic” and “uncontrolled” because it inconveniences us, because it is killing our political opponents, or because the virus will magically evolve to some “mild” state.

    It is time — long past time — to begin controlling this virus.

    It’s possible: Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea have done it.

    It saves lives:

    It’s even good for the economy:

    “Globally, economic contraction and growth closely mirror increases and decreases in COVID-19 cases... Public health strategies that reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission also safeguard the economy.”

    https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-021-06357-4

    It’s time.

    https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1478611650760437765.html

    sur twitter :
    https://twitter.com/IanRicksecker/status/1478611650760437765

    #long-covid #covid-19 #coronavirus #covid_long #long_covid #séquelles #post-covid

  • Facebook Should Dial Down the Toxicity Much More Often - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/04/facebook-should-dial-down-toxicity-much-more-often/618653

    The strategy works! Facebook has recently touted reductions in the amount of hate speech and graphic content that users see on its platform. How did it make these improvements? Not by changing its rules on hate speech. Not by hiring more human content moderators. Not by refining artificial-intelligence tools that seek out rule-breaking content to take down. The progress was “mainly due to changes we made to reduce problematic content in News Feed.” The company used dials, not on-off switches.

    The Chauvin trial may be a unique event, but racial tension and violence are clearly not. Content on social media leading to offline harm is not confined to Minneapolis or the U.S.; it is a global problem. Toxic online content is not an aberration, but a permanent feature of the internet. Platforms shouldn’t wait until the house is burning down to do something about it.

  • How the Public-Health Messaging Backfired - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/how-public-health-messaging-backfired/618147

    Par Zeynep Tufekci

    When the polio vaccine was declared safe and effective, the news was met with jubilant celebration. Church bells rang across the nation, and factories blew their whistles. “Polio routed!” newspaper headlines exclaimed. “An historic victory,” “monumental,” “sensational,” newscasters declared. People erupted with joy across the United States. Some danced in the streets; others wept. Kids were sent home from school to celebrate.

    One might have expected the initial approval of the coronavirus vaccines to spark similar jubilation—especially after a brutal pandemic year. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the steady drumbeat of good news about the vaccines has been met with a chorus of relentless pessimism.

    The problem is not that the good news isn’t being reported, or that we should throw caution to the wind just yet. It’s that neither the reporting nor the public-health messaging has reflected the truly amazing reality of these vaccines. There is nothing wrong with realism and caution, but effective communication requires a sense of proportion—distinguishing between due alarm and alarmism; warranted, measured caution and doombait; worst-case scenarios and claims of impending catastrophe. We need to be able to celebrate profoundly positive news while noting the work that still lies ahead. However, instead of balanced optimism since the launch of the vaccines, the public has been offered a lot of misguided fretting over new virus variants, subjected to misleading debates about the inferiority of certain vaccines, and presented with long lists of things vaccinated people still cannot do, while media outlets wonder whether the pandemic will ever end.

    This pessimism is sapping people of energy to get through the winter, and the rest of this pandemic. Anti-vaccination groups and those opposing the current public-health measures have been vigorously amplifying the pessimistic messages—especially the idea that getting vaccinated doesn’t mean being able to do more—telling their audiences that there is no point in compliance, or in eventual vaccination, because it will not lead to any positive changes. They are using the moment and the messaging to deepen mistrust of public-health authorities, accusing them of moving the goalposts and implying that we’re being conned. Either the vaccines aren’t as good as claimed, they suggest, or the real goal of pandemic-safety measures is to control the public, not the virus.

    Five key fallacies and pitfalls have affected public-health messaging, as well as media coverage, and have played an outsize role in derailing an effective pandemic response. These problems were deepened by the ways that we—the public—developed to cope with a dreadful situation under great uncertainty. And now, even as vaccines offer brilliant hope, and even though, at least in the United States, we no longer have to deal with the problem of a misinformer in chief, some officials and media outlets are repeating many of the same mistakes in handling the vaccine rollout.

    The pandemic has given us an unwelcome societal stress test, revealing the cracks and weaknesses in our institutions and our systems. Some of these are common to many contemporary problems, including political dysfunction and the way our public sphere operates. Others are more particular, though not exclusive, to the current challenge—including a gap between how academic research operates and how the public understands that research, and the ways in which the psychology of coping with the pandemic have distorted our response to it.

    Recognizing all these dynamics is important, not only for seeing us through this pandemic—yes, it is going to end—but also to understand how our society functions, and how it fails. We need to start shoring up our defenses, not just against future pandemics but against all the myriad challenges we face—political, environmental, societal, and technological. None of these problems is impossible to remedy, but first we have to acknowledge them and start working to fix them—and we’re running out of time.

    The past 12 months were incredibly challenging for almost everyone. Public-health officials were fighting a devastating pandemic and, at least in this country, an administration hell-bent on undermining them. The World Health Organization was not structured or funded for independence or agility, but still worked hard to contain the disease. Many researchers and experts noted the absence of timely and trustworthy guidelines from authorities, and tried to fill the void by communicating their findings directly to the public on social media. Reporters tried to keep the public informed under time and knowledge constraints, which were made more severe by the worsening media landscape. And the rest of us were trying to survive as best we could, looking for guidance where we could, and sharing information when we could, but always under difficult, murky conditions.

    Despite all these good intentions, much of the public-health messaging has been profoundly counterproductive. In five specific ways, the assumptions made by public officials, the choices made by traditional media, the way our digital public sphere operates, and communication patterns between academic communities and the public proved flawed.

    While visible but low-risk activities attract the scolds, other actual risks—in workplaces and crowded households, exacerbated by the lack of testing or paid sick leave—are not as easily accessible to photographers. Stefan Baral, an associate epidemiology professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says that it’s almost as if we’ve “designed a public-health response most suitable for higher-income” groups and the “Twitter generation”—stay home; have your groceries delivered; focus on the behaviors you can photograph and shame online—rather than provide the support and conditions necessary for more people to keep themselves safe.

    And the viral videos shaming people for failing to take sensible precautions, such as wearing masks indoors, do not necessarily help. For one thing, fretting over the occasional person throwing a tantrum while going unmasked in a supermarket distorts the reality: Most of the public has been complying with mask wearing. Worse, shaming is often an ineffective way of getting people to change their behavior, and it entrenches polarization and discourages disclosure, making it harder to fight the virus. Instead, we should be emphasizing safer behavior and stressing how many people are doing their part, while encouraging others to do the same.

    Harm Reduction

    Amidst all the mistrust and the scolding, a crucial public-health concept fell by the wayside. Harm reduction is the recognition that if there is an unmet and yet crucial human need, we cannot simply wish it away; we need to advise people on how to do what they seek to do more safely. Risk can never be completely eliminated; life requires more than futile attempts to bring risk down to zero. Pretending we can will away complexities and trade-offs with absolutism is counterproductive. Consider abstinence-only education: Not letting teenagers know about ways to have safer sex results in more of them having sex with no protections.

    As Julia Marcus, an epidemiologist and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, told me, “When officials assume that risks can be easily eliminated, they might neglect the other things that matter to people: staying fed and housed, being close to loved ones, or just enjoying their lives. Public health works best when it helps people find safer ways to get what they need and want.”

    Another problem with absolutism is the “abstinence violation” effect, Joshua Barocas, an assistant professor at the Boston University School of Medicine and Infectious Diseases, told me. When we set perfection as the only option, it can cause people who fall short of that standard in one small, particular way to decide that they’ve already failed, and might as well give up entirely. Most people who have attempted a diet or a new exercise regimen are familiar with this psychological state. The better approach is encouraging risk reduction and layered mitigation—emphasizing that every little bit helps—while also recognizing that a risk-free life is neither possible nor desirable.

    Socializing is not a luxury—kids need to play with one another, and adults need to interact. Your kids can play together outdoors, and outdoor time is the best chance to catch up with your neighbors is not just a sensible message; it’s a way to decrease transmission risks. Some kids will play and some adults will socialize no matter what the scolds say or public-health officials decree, and they’ll do it indoors, out of sight of the scolding.

    And if they don’t? Then kids will be deprived of an essential activity, and adults will be deprived of human companionship. Socializing is perhaps the most important predictor of health and longevity, after not smoking and perhaps exercise and a healthy diet. We need to help people socialize more safely, not encourage them to stop socializing entirely.

    Moreover, they have delivered spectacular results. In June 2020, the FDA said a vaccine that was merely 50 percent efficacious in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 would receive emergency approval—that such a benefit would be sufficient to justify shipping it out immediately. Just a few months after that, the trials of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines concluded by reporting not just a stunning 95 percent efficacy, but also a complete elimination of hospitalization or death among the vaccinated. Even severe disease was practically gone: The lone case classified as “severe” among 30,000 vaccinated individuals in the trials was so mild that the patient needed no medical care, and her case would not have been considered severe if her oxygen saturation had been a single percent higher.

    These are exhilarating developments, because global, widespread, and rapid vaccination is our way out of this pandemic. Vaccines that drastically reduce hospitalizations and deaths, and that diminish even severe disease to a rare event, are the closest things we have had in this pandemic to a miracle—though of course they are the product of scientific research, creativity, and hard work. They are going to be the panacea and the endgame.

    Just a few days later, Moderna reported a similar 94.5 percent efficacy. If anything, that provided even more cause for celebration, because it confirmed that the stunning numbers coming out of Pfizer weren’t a fluke. But, still amid the political turmoil, the Moderna report got a mere two columns on The New York Times’ front page with an equally modest headline: “Another Vaccine Appears to Work Against the Virus.”

    So we didn’t get our initial vaccine jubilation.

    But as soon as we began vaccinating people, articles started warning the newly vaccinated about all they could not do. “COVID-19 Vaccine Doesn’t Mean You Can Party Like It’s 1999,” one headline admonished. And the buzzkill has continued right up to the present. “You’re fully vaccinated against the coronavirus—now what? Don’t expect to shed your mask and get back to normal activities right away,” began a recent Associated Press story.

    People might well want to party after being vaccinated. Those shots will expand what we can do, first in our private lives and among other vaccinated people, and then, gradually, in our public lives as well. But once again, the authorities and the media seem more worried about potentially reckless behavior among the vaccinated, and about telling them what not to do, than with providing nuanced guidance reflecting trade-offs, uncertainty, and a recognition that vaccination can change behavior. No guideline can cover every situation, but careful, accurate, and updated information can empower everyone.

    What went wrong? The same thing that’s going wrong right now with the reporting on whether vaccines will protect recipients against the new viral variants. Some outlets emphasize the worst or misinterpret the research. Some public-health officials are wary of encouraging the relaxation of any precautions. Some prominent experts on social media—even those with seemingly solid credentials—tend to respond to everything with alarm and sirens. So the message that got heard was that vaccines will not prevent transmission, or that they won’t work against new variants, or that we don’t know if they will. What the public needs to hear, though, is that based on existing data, we expect them to work fairly well—but we’ll learn more about precisely how effective they’ll be over time, and that tweaks may make them even better.

    Psychologists talk about the “locus of control”—the strength of belief in control over your own destiny. They distinguish between people with more of an internal-control orientation—who believe that they are the primary actors—and those with an external one, who believe that society, fate, and other factors beyond their control greatly influence what happens to us. This focus on individual control goes along with something called the “fundamental attribution error”—when bad things happen to other people, we’re more likely to believe that they are personally at fault, but when they happen to us, we are more likely to blame the situation and circumstances beyond our control.

    An individualistic locus of control is forged in the U.S. mythos—that we are a nation of strivers and people who pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. An internal-control orientation isn’t necessarily negative; it can facilitate resilience, rather than fatalism, by shifting the focus to what we can do as individuals even as things fall apart around us. This orientation seems to be common among children who not only survive but sometimes thrive in terrible situations—they take charge and have a go at it, and with some luck, pull through. It is probably even more attractive to educated, well-off people who feel that they have succeeded through their own actions.

    The focus on individual actions has had its upsides, but it has also led to a sizable portion of pandemic victims being erased from public conversation. If our own actions drive everything, then some other individuals must be to blame when things go wrong for them. And throughout this pandemic, the mantra many of us kept repeating—“Wear a mask, stay home; wear a mask, stay home”—hid many of the real victims.

    Study after study, in country after country, confirms that this disease has disproportionately hit the poor and minority groups, along with the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable to severe disease. Even among the elderly, though, those who are wealthier and enjoy greater access to health care have fared better.

    The poor and minority groups are dying in disproportionately large numbers for the same reasons that they suffer from many other diseases: a lifetime of disadvantages, lack of access to health care, inferior working conditions, unsafe housing, and limited financial resources.

    Many lacked the option of staying home precisely because they were working hard to enable others to do what they could not, by packing boxes, delivering groceries, producing food. And even those who could stay home faced other problems born of inequality: Crowded housing is associated with higher rates of COVID-19 infection and worse outcomes, likely because many of the essential workers who live in such housing bring the virus home to elderly relatives.

    Individual responsibility certainly had a large role to play in fighting the pandemic, but many victims had little choice in what happened to them. By disproportionately focusing on individual choices, not only did we hide the real problem, but we failed to do more to provide safe working and living conditions for everyone.

    But also, after a weary year, maybe it’s hard for everyone—including scientists, journalists, and public-health officials—to imagine the end, to have hope. We adjust to new conditions fairly quickly, even terrible new conditions. During this pandemic, we’ve adjusted to things many of us never thought were possible. Billions of people have led dramatically smaller, circumscribed lives, and dealt with closed schools, the inability to see loved ones, the loss of jobs, the absence of communal activities, and the threat and reality of illness and death.

    #Covid-19 #Vaccin #Médias #Sciences_information #Sociologie #Pandémie #Zeynep_Tufekci

  • The Capitol Rioters Aren’t Like Other Extremists - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/the-capitol-rioters-arent-like-other-extremists/617895

    (...) the demographic profile of the suspected Capitol rioters is different from that of past right-wing extremists. The average age of the arrestees we studied is 40. Two-thirds are 35 or older, and 40 percent are business owners or hold white-collar jobs. Unlike the stereotypical extremist, many of the alleged participants in the Capitol riot have a lot to lose. They work as CEOs, shop owners, doctors, lawyers, IT specialists, and accountants. Strikingly, court documents indicate that only 9 percent are unemployed. Of the earlier far-right-extremist suspects we studied, 61 percent were under 35, 25 percent were unemployed, and almost none worked in white-collar occupations.

    #Capitole #USA #fascistes