I recall someone joking along the way of our interminable Covid saga that he looked forward to the time when he wasn’t following 300 epidemiologists. I also remember an epidemiologist who had a coffee mug that sported, “Make epidemiology boring again.”
Well, at least these days I’m down to a handful of experts of various types that have helped—and continue help—me wade through the complicated, conflicting information and guidance out there sufficiently to make some semblance of reasonable assessments of risk and act accordingly.
I’m not on social media (though I can, so far, get access to public postings), so I have no way to reach out to thank these folks other than to write them an email, if they have an address I can find. I’ve actually done that on a couple occasions—but they are such generous souls they actually respond, and I don’t want them to use their time like that. After all, these are all folks with a lot on their plates who nonetheless offer their time to help us as laypeople get a grip on where things stand and how to keep ourselves safe.
Just today, Bob Wachter, whose “day job” is Chair of the Department of Medicine at USCF, put out one of his invaluable Twitter threads explaining how he goes about assessing his own Covid risk. Below is the thread, in full:
What I appreciate so much about these threads, which he offers from time to time as the situation changes, is his ability and willingness to lay out the variables that form his thinking in a lay-friendly way, offering not simply unadorned conclusions, but concrete real-time guidance to aid us all in evaluating personal risk.
Other members of my “personal” A-team are (in alphabetical order):
Abraar Karan (currently at Stanford as an Infectious Diseases Fellow in Medicine): Among so many other things, Dr. Karan was an early and persistent voice on the need for high quality masks to be readily available to all. I’m very grateful for all I have learned from him about masks. Without him, I would have been at sea on the issue of masks, particularly in the early days of the pandemic.
Linsey Marr (a Professor at Virginia Tech in the area of Environmental and Water Resources Engineering): Dr. Marr has been persistent and clear-eyed in advocating, based on her deeply informed grasp of the science, for the proposition that Covid is transmitted via aerosols. It took a while for governmental agencies to catch up; I cannot thank her enough for persisting until they did.
Michael Mina (currently the Chief Science Officer at emed): Dr. Mina has been my “go-to” guy for understanding rapid tests and how, when, and for what purpose to use them. Here’s a terrific discussion with Andy Slavitt on this issue.
Eric Topol (Professor, Molecular Medicine, Scripps Research–but see the link for the full set of credentials): Last not least, Dr. Topol is my go-to guy for how to think about and assess all manner of things. He has a brilliant substack called Ground Truths, a superb recent edition of which is here. There and elsewhere, he lately has been beating the drum for “Operation Nasal Vaccine.” You can hear him talk with Andy Slavitt about this here. I don’t know when Dr. Topol sleeps. He is out there, everywhere, all the time, and we are so much the better for it.
So, there you have it. With grateful thanks to all!