Why the headlines are misleading when it comes to vegetables and coronavirus

Pictured: Yum, but not a cure for infectious disease. Source: Pexels

In the grip of a pandemic, the news has, generally, not been great fun to read. Most headlines are filled with death, mayhem, and destruction, interspersed with the occasional joyous paragraph about the ongoing war in the Middle East.

And then, a headline comes along that’s a bit more optimistic. In this case, the idea that vegetarian diets cut your risk of Covid-19 by more than half! According to scientists, it appears, the cure for Covid-19 is as simple as adding a few sprouts to your life and calling it a day.

The lab leak theory is possible, but that doesn’t make it likely

I was going to Photoshop a pair of lab glasses on this picture of SARS-CoV-2, but then I remembered that my graphical skills are roughly on par with my juggling (it’s been a decade and I still can’t regularly keep 3 balls in the air) and decided not to. Source: CDC

One of the Big Questions about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, has for a while been about its origins. Most viruses that cause disease in humans have long, fascinating origin stories, with jumps from animal to animal until they finally make it into people and start killing people. But Covid-19, goes the theory, must be lab-grown — either from an intentional lab leak or a mistake of epic proportions — there’s simply too much circumstantial evidence to ignore!

This idea doesn’t really make sense. There’s no special reason to believe that Covid-19 must have been grown in a lab…

A brief guide to getting into the field

Pictured: Epidemiology. It’s half presentations, half sitting in front of a computer staring at numbers. Source: Pexels

Of the many impacts of the global pandemic we’ve found ourselves living through, one of the few welcome things has been the sudden and unexpected love of epidemiology. Two years ago, being an epidemiologist was a faintly embarrassing experience, where the phrase “I work in epidemiology” was either met with a blank stare or questions about people’s skin.

Sometimes I thought I should get a t-shirt saying “no, that’s a dermatologist” just to answer the question quickly.

Should we be protecting kids from coronavirus infections?

Pictured: Lifesaving. Source: SELF Magazine

Covid-19 vaccines are amazing. They have turned what were enormous, horrific epidemics in country after country into manageable problems. Places like the US, UK, Israel, and others, which were until recently speeding headfirst off a cliff, are now celebrating as cases drop and people can finally let go of some of that pandemic anxiety that’s been going around.

Looking at a complex question a year on

Pictured: The same header I used a year ago. There’s some meaning in that, although what exactly is anyone’s guess. Source: Pexels

A year ago, I spent a few weeks looking into the infection fatality rate of COVID-19. At the time, this was a minor side-project I could do in the extra time I had saved because I was working from home during lockdown and no longer had a 1.5-hour commute twice a day. It was a fascinating, complex problem, but also relatively easy to attempt to answer based on current best evidence at the time, because that consisted of only a few dozen scientific papers and preprints.

Plenty of people who get the jab are a bit worried about it at first

Photo: Usman Yousaf/Unsplash

Vaccines against Covid-19 are rolling out across the world, and it’s a beautiful sight. If you had told most scientists this time last year that we would be seeing effective, safe vaccines preventing Covid-19 infection in every corner of the globe within 12 months, we would probably not have believed you. The monumental amount of work required to get us to this place cannot be overstated — it is a truly spectacular achievement.

Why the true number of deaths is probably higher than our official count

Pictured: Pretty grim. Source: Pexels

The Covid-19 pandemic has been fraught with unknowns, from the nature of the disease to broader societal impacts and everything in between. The last 15 months have often been more about the endless cavalcade of things we don’t really understand than the few facts we can be sure of.

A difficult question we’ve spent most of the last year trying to answer

Pictured: Daily routine, 2020 style. Source: Pexels

There have been many questions we have been desperate to answer during this pandemic. How fatal is COVID-19? What drugs can we use to treat it? If you’re working from home, is there really a reason to own more than one pair of formal pants?

A year into the pandemic, what can we really say about government interventions to prevent disease?

Pictured: Stock photo results for “lockdown” are somewhat strange. Source: Pexels

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been telling a single story. It’s a very compelling narrative, playing into our worst fears and greatest hopes about the pandemic, and it has inspired numerous politicians, scientists, and other experts to try and take action.

The story is simple: the pandemic might be bad, but lockdowns must be worse.

Some have approached this account with some objectivity, and tried to argue that despite the incredible harms of an uncontrolled global pandemic lockdowns are more harmful. …

Why have European countries paused their Astrazeneca rollout?

Pictured: Gotta love vaccines! Source: SELF Magazine

Edit 6/04 with new data about the MHRA and EMA investigations into these clots and the Astrazeneca vaccine.

Edit 8/04: The EMA has now confirmed that a link between the Astrazeneca vaccine and these rare clot conditions is likely. In other news, I had my Astrazeneca vaccine last week.

Vaccines are amazing, life-saving innovations, and the COVID-19 vaccines are no different. As with any medical procedure, there are potential drawbacks to using them, but we know from massive pieces of scientific research that the COVID-19 vaccines are both safe and effective.

And yet, as you have probably heard on the…

Gideon M-K; Health Nerd

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