Most popular infectious diseases tweets in March 2020, revealed by GlobalData

From Francis Collins’ tweet on the NIH clinical trial of an investigational vaccine for COVID-19 to the flu and coronavirus striking at the same time, leading data and analytics company GlobalData lists ten of the most popular tweets on infectious diseases in March 2020, based on data from the company’s Influencer Platform.

1. Francis Collins’ tweet on the NIH clinical trial of an investigational vaccine for COVID-19

Francis Collins, the NIH director, shared an article on the Phase 1 clinical trial of the investigational vaccine designed to protect against COVID-19. The article noted that the trial had begun at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) in Seattle and was being funded by the National Institutes of Health.

On 16 March 2020, @NIHDirector tweeted: “#NIH has today launched a Phase 1 #clinicaltrial evaluating a vaccine candidate for #coronavirus #COVID19. This trial is enrolling 45 healthy adult volunteers in Seattle & is the first of multiple steps for evaluating the potential benefit of the vaccine”, which collected 10,521 likes and 4,366 retweets.

2. Gregg Gonsalves’ tweet on the AIDS epidemic

Gregg Gonsalves, an epidemiologist and global health activist, tweeted on how at the height of the AIDS epidemic, posters stating the government has blood on its hands popped up across cities in the US.

On 9 March 2020, @gregggonsalves tweeted: “At height of the AIDS epidemic, posters like this popped up all over US cities. With #coronavirus, @realDonaldTrump and those in his administration who don’t stand up against his disinformation, bumbling incompetence will, once again, have blood on their hands. @actupny #granfury”, which attracted 7,338 likes and 4,627 retweets.

3. Carlos Rios’ tweet on airport screening turning futile to curb COVID-19

Carlos Rio, a Hubert Professor and Chair of the Hubert Department of Global Health, shared a study on how futile airport screening was turning out to be, in an effort to control the coronavirus spread. The research further noted that despite screenings, it has not been easy to detect infected travelers.

On 12 March 2020, @CarlosdelRio7 tweeted: “Airport screening is largely futile, research shows science.sciencemag.org/content/367/64… For those who still believe airport screening of passengers works in situations like #COVD19 please read this article”, which gained 986 likes and 778 retweets.

4. Peter Hotez’s tweet on Louisiana reporting the highest COVID-19 deaths in the US

Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist and paediatrician, shared data on the coronavirus cases in the US. The influencer noted that Louisiana reported the highest deaths with a fatality rate of 4%, which is higher than in other places. This, he emphasized, could be because of overwhelmed health systems, or the extreme Gulf Coast poverty linked to diabetes, hypertension, and other non-communicable or chronic diseases.

On 28 March 2020, @PeterHotez tweeted: “#COVID19 case fatality rate in #Louisiana #NOLA is 4%,  highest in #USA, several times higher than most other places. Reasons require study, but I believe due to 1) overwhelmed health systems + 2) extreme #GulfCoast poverty linked to diabetes, HTN, NCDs worldometers.info/coronavirus/co…”, which earned 616 likes and 398 retweets.

5. Laurie Garrett’s tweet on hydroxychloroquine side effects

Laurie Garrett, a science journalist and author, tweeted on the related side effects of the malaria drug, Chloroquine. She added that people need to consider that it causes deep depression and suicide. The article shared by the influencer noted that Teva and Mylan have jumpstarted the production of the old malaria drug, considered useful in combating the novel coronavirus.

On 20 March 2020, @Laurie_Garrett tweeted: “Having taken chloroquine prophylactic for #Malaria I think people need to recall it has real side effects, including deep depression and suicide. I’ve seen people go haywire on it. twitter.com/statnews/statu…”, which collected 812 likes and 356 retweets.

6. Julia Belluz’s tweet on China having downplayed the coronavirus outbreak earlier on

Julia Belluz, a senior health correspondent at Vox, shared an article on the possibility of the virus having taken off weeks earlier than the Chinese official actually suggested it did. The article noted that China announced the outbreak of a mysterious pneumonia, in late December, contrary to the earliest case who was showing symptoms two weeks prior to that.

On 6 March 2020, @juliaoftoronto tweeted: “Worth remembering: 3 weeks into China’s #covid19 outbreak, President Xi Jinping was asking officials at all levels of gov to fight the virus google.com/amp/s/www.vox… twitter.com/atrupar/status”, which gained 595 likes and 286 retweets.

7. Marc Lipsitch’s tweet on vitamin D supplementation for preventing acute respiratory tract infections

Marc Lipsitch, an infectious disease epidemiologist and microbiologist, shared a study to assess the overall effect of vitamin D supplements on respiratory tract infections, and to identify factors that modified this effect. The results were comprehensive in deducing that it was safe to use, and that it did protect against such infections.

On 15 March 2020, @mlipsitch tweeted: “Want to point to individual-patient meta-analysis of RCT evidence from 11000 pts in 25 indicating a benefit of vitamin D suppl for respiratory infections. bmj.com/content/356/bm… I am not a physician and can’t offer medical advice. But this is comparatively strong evidence”, which attracted 588 likes and 272 retweets.

8. Dr Tara Smith’s tweet on great apes facing the coronavirus threat

Dr Tara C Smith, epidemiologist and science communicator, shared an article on how lethal the SARS-CoV-2 can be for the great apes as well. With already existing risk of extinction and being susceptible to human disease, the apes have already succumbed to Ebola in many areas, the influencer tweeted.

On 25 March 2020, @aetiology tweeted: “I was wondering about this. We know they can be infected with other human respiratory viruses, and in some areas were already decimated by Ebola. Looks like they may also be susceptible to #SARSCoV2. theguardian.com/environment/20…”, which earned 250 likes and 142 retweets.

9. Helen Branswell’s tweet on no new Ebola cases or deaths

Helen Branswell, an infectious diseases and global health reporter, tweeted on no new Ebola cases or deaths reported at the end of February. She further added that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had reported no new cases till the last 12 days of the month, and that only six cases occurred in the entire month of February.

On 1 March 2020, @HelenBranswell tweeted: “#Ebola: No new Ebola cases or deaths on Feb. 29. 12 days have passed since DRC has reported a case. Not out of the woods yet, but this is excellent news. There were only 6 cases reported in all of February”, which collected 430 likes and 86 retweets.

10. Ian Mackay’s tweet on the health chief’s warning of the flu and coronavirus striking at the same time

Ian Mackay, a virologist and scientist, shared an article on Brett Sutton, the chief health officer of Victoria state having announced that anyone fell sick in the flu season would be tested for coronavirus and influenza at the same time.

On 2 March 2020, @MackayIM tweeted: “Health chief warns flu and coronavirus might strike at the same time -get the #flu vaccine! Avoid serious flu illness that sends you to hospital when #SARSCoV2 may be circulating #COVID19 #flu #vaccinesWORK brisbanetimes.com.au/national/victoria/chief-health-officer-floats-prospect-of-vic… via @brisbanetimes”, which gained 162 likes and 83 retweets.

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