Angela Rasmussen

Dr. Angela (Angie) Rasmussen, PhD

(See Angie's character smears & attacks on Robert Malone MD)1)

Project Leaders and Veterinarians2) Dr. Rasmussen graduated from Smith College with a BA in Biological Sciences (2000) and received a MA (2005), MPhil (2006), and PhD (2009) in Microbiology and Immunology from Columbia University. She did her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington and previously held faculty positions at the University of Washington and the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.

In addition to her primary appointment at VIDO, Angie is also affiliated with the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security. She is a member of the Verena Consortium, a multi-disciplinary, international effort to predict and study emerging viral pathogens, as well as the Communications Director for the CoVaRR-Net research consortium.

She is also a member of the WHO Ad Hoc Expert Committee for Preclinical Models of COVID-19 and sits on the Editorial Boards at Vaccine, mSphere, and Cell Reports.

In addition to her research, Dr. Rasmussen is a prolific science communicator on both social media and in the mainstream press, as well as a writer for numerous publications including Forbes, Leaps.org, Slate, Foreign Affairs, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.

She is passionate about advocating for equity in biomedical research and public health, and is a member of the US NIH Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment, as well as a faculty mentor for the volunteer science education group Wearing is Caring.

She believes strongly that biosecurity and global public health must be collaborative international efforts and is eager to extend this outreach work in Canada and abroad.3)

FORBES Biography

Dr. Rasmussen is a virologist studying host responses to infection by combining classical virology with modern systems biology approaches. Her research objectives are to identify host response signatures predictive of infection severity or disease outcome and host pathways to target drug development or repurposing. She is particularly interested in viruses that are highly pathogenic, newly emergent or likely to emerge because of climate change, land development, or ecological disruption.4)

Smith College Alumni News

Getting to the Heart of COVID-19 July 4, 2020 BY Cheryl Dellecese

As an expert, Rasmussen, who is currently an associate research scientist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, advocates for all the common sense and scientifically based practices for combating a pandemic, including social distancing and wearing masks. Here she talks about some of the things we’ve learned about COVID-19 since it emerged, her concerns about rushing a vaccine and how the pandemic has brought to light issues of equity.

What I hope comes out of all of this is increased equity—gender equity, equity for LGBTQ+ people, racial equity and religious equity. That’s easier said than done. This pandemic has made clear, at least as far as gender is concerned, that there are still very gendered responsibilities in our society. Many people are working from home, for example. Women tend to take on more of the housework and responsibilities for caring for others in their household. As a result, women have been disproportionately affected by that.

In science, we’ve seen that women are submitting fewer papers. They’re submitting fewer grant applications. To my knowledge, there isn’t really a policy level plan to address this. One thing that I’ve experienced both in my work and on the National Institutes of Health advisory committee to the Working Group on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment is that it’s a challenge to even convince people there’s a problem. Many men—and some women—will say, “I’m for equity. I’m not racist. I’m not sexist,” but that doesn’t change the fact that they aren’t actively doing anything against it. That’s what the Shut Down STEM movement and the Black Lives Matter protests have really drawn to people’s attention—that it’s not enough to just not be racist or not be sexist or not be homophobic or transphobic. You have to actively be against those things. 5)

Documented Smear Campaigns by Angie

Open letter about Dr. Angela Rasmussen’s public lies and slander Yuri Deigin - April 2021 6)

In this letter we document several instances of public lies and/or slander committed by Dr. Angela Rasmussen on social media. We call upon Dr. Rasmussen to retract her false statement and apologize. On April 9, 2021, Dr. Rasmussen has falsely claimed on Twitter of having received an email from one of Dr. Rossana Segreto’s colleagues at the University of Innsbruck, which informed her that Dr. Segreto has spent “the better part of a faculty meeting in her department attacking [Dr. Rasmussen] personally, saying [she] is incompetent, a CCP lackey, and exaggerating threats of violence and sexual assault”7)

Dr. Rasmussen’s accusations were absolutely false. Two of Dr. Segreto’s colleagues have immediately confirmed on Twitter that it is a blatant lie. Soon after, both the former and the current heads of her department confirmed the same. After the quick and vocal reactions of Dr. Segreto’s colleagues, Dr. Rasmussen has partially retracted her false accusation by tweeting that she has been “misinformed” and “regrets the error”8) As it stands, even in the tweet admitting to having been “misinformed”, as some sort of justification for the original attack, Dr. Rasmussen proceeded to again accuse Dr. Segreto of having “repeatedly attacked” her on social media and falsely claimed this was the reason she has blocked Dr. Segreto on Twitter. That was another lie, as Dr. Rasmussen has blocked Dr. Segreto long before she wrote the (rather mild) tweets that Dr. Rasmussen quoted as personal attacks.

In fact, Dr. Rasmussen has blocked Dr. Segreto on September 15, 2020 simply for having asked to explain the strange nucleotide codon pattern of the furin cleavage site in SARS-CoV-29)

Moreover, Dr. Segreto actually wrote the 2021 tweets that Dr. Rasmussen later claimed to be personal attacks partially in response to Dr. Rasmussen’s repeated false accusations of Yuri Deigin. In particular, in January 2021, Dr. Rasmussen has publicly slandered Mr. Deigin by equating his Medium article on SARS-CoV-2 origins to a Neo Nazi book.10)

In conclusion, we call upon Dr. Rasmussen to-

  • Provide proof of having received the claimed email (a screenshot with redacted identifying information would suffice) or admit to having completely invented the accusations against Dr. Segreto.
  • Provide proof or claimed racism/sinophobia in Mr. Deigin’s Medium article or publicly retract the accusations of such and apologize.
  • Provide proof of Mr. Deigin disparaging her appearance or publicly retract the accusations of such and apologize.
  • Provide proof of Mr. Deigin tagging her employer “to complain about the fact that [her] opinion of his article was that it was scientifically unsound” or publicly retract the accusations of such and apologize.
  • We also call on anyone who agrees that Dr. Rasmussen’s public conduct is reprehensible and unbecoming of a member of academia, and who concurs that Dr. Rasmussen must publicly retract her lies and apologize, to co-sign this letter by leaving a comment below. Please also feel free to disseminate this open letter on social media.

Signed, Yuri Deigin, Rossana Segreto 11) Other tweets referenced -

Do you mean when Yuri tagged my employer to complain about the fact that my opinion of his article was that it was scientifically unsound and relied heavily on racist stereotypes? Or that he also took umbrage with the many flaws in Nicholson Baker's NY Mag piece? 14:51 - 9. Apr. 2021 12)

Read his Medium article. It is rife with sinophobia and stereotypes about Chinese people. And Yuri has disparaged me, my appearance, my expertise, tagged my former employer, etc. repeatedly in his own tweets. I don't owe him any explanations. 6:42 AM - 4 Feb 2021 13)

-Uncritically parrots statements from very biased lab-leak proponents (Ebright) -Heavily criticizes long-disclosed COI from those who actually have done this work (Baric and Daszak) -Amplified conspiracy theories and called Yuri Deigin's Turner Diary-esque manifesto “lucid” 3:09 PM - 4 Jan 2021 14)

Public Funded Information

CoVaRR-Net

Let evidence be our guide: Misinformation most insidious when it comes from health-care professionals Jan 27, 2022 by Concerned researchers and experts from CoVaRR-Net15)

Eradication of SARS-CoV-2 was not the primary goal of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and never has been. Rather, the goal from the start has been to limit morbidity and mortality caused by COVID-19 – an entirely reasonable end goal, which vaccines have achieved as indicated by an ever-growing body of evidence, including three independent large-scale studies showing more than 80 per cent effectiveness of three doses of COVID-19 vaccine against hospitalization and death due to Omicron– an impressive feat given that current vaccines were modelled against the ancestral virus rather than Omicron.

Indeed, accumulating data show that three vaccine doses confer robust immunity that protects against divergent viral variants, including Omicron. This is due to successful imprinting of the immune response against the SARS-CoV-2 spike, something Doidge incorrectly and derisively refers to as “Original Antigenic Sin.” But rather than this being a bad thing, evidence shows this imprinting is precisely what elicits broad, cross-protective immune responses against variants in a manner exceeding that conferred by infection alone.

With more than 3 billion people worldwide yet to receive their first shot, we remain a long way from achieving global protection against the harm exerted by COVID-19. Inaction in gaining control of viral transmission across the globe has profound implications because unmitigated transmission produces a much larger pool of mutations. It is a question of “when,” not “if,” a new variant will emerge. Although COVID-19 mitigation and control efforts rely on multiple tools, including equitable access to diagnostics, routine surveillance, high-quality masks, ventilation/filtration and therapeutics, vaccines are the cornerstone of our efforts.

Like his misrepresentation of vaccines, Doidge also distorts the scientific approach to COVID therapeutics. From the pandemic’s earliest days, researchers repurposed drugs to treat patients. Approved medications such as corticosteroids and other immunomodulating agents have been essential to treating severely ill patients after scientific trials proved their effectiveness. Other repurposed drugs, such as aspirin and some antibiotics, proved ineffective when rigorously tested whereas hydroxychloroquine led to harm. Doidge implies that debate about the value of hydroxychloroquine has been suppressed by political polarization. This is an ironic assertion because the exact opposite is true: There is no good clinical evidence to support the use of hydroxychloroquine in the context of COVID. That myth has been spun by ideological agendas. Fluvoxamine may help patients, but Ontario’s Science Table has been careful to point out that it has “very low certainty evidence of benefit.”

Another deeply flawed false equivalency presented by Doidge is his misuse of the Amnesty International Report to bolster his claims of censorship. He equates the pushback received by North American experts who promote fringe ideologies rather than scientific facts with that of journalists and health-care professionals who are punished and imprisoned under autocratic and totalitarian regimes for promoting evidence-based strategies or exposing the humanitarian crises unfolding in their home countries.

Most North American MDs who have attracted attention from the regulators have pushed harmful and absurd misinformation (no, the vaccines will not make you magnetic) and are not engaging in constructive “scientific debate,” as suggested by Doidge. Dissenting voices in Canada have not been “censored” (being proven wrong is not censorship or an infringement of freedom of expression).

Indeed, there is evidence that their misleading messages are so ubiquitous – they are on podcasts and cable news shows with large audiences, and in the popular press – that the bigger issue is false balance (creating the impression the evidence on both sides of a debate is equal). Regulatory bodies, like the provincial Colleges of Physicians, have a legal duty to maintain a standard of care in the best interest of the public. We need more, not less, oversight. As recently noted by the U.S. Federation of State Medical Boards, there has been a “dramatic increase in the dissemination of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and disinformation by physicians,” such as that featured in Doidge’s inaccurate piece.

The scenario is similar to what occurred in other households in 2015 when a Toronto Star article spread fear about HPV vaccines. The article was subsequently challenged by Canadian scientists who asserted, rightfully so, that evidence should be our guide in judging the safety of vaccines. Let’s be evidence-based again in 2022 as we review the successes of COVID-19 vaccines, an essential and effective arrow in our quiver in our response to COVID-19.16) Author Bios

Ninan Abraham, Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia; Director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Indigeneity, CoVaRR-Net.

Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, Professor, Faculty of Law and School of Public Health, University of Alberta; Director of Misinformation Assessment and Response, CoVaRR-Net.

Jen Gommerman, Canada Research Chair in Tissue Specific Immunity; Professor and Acting Chair, Department of Immunology, University of Toronto; Pillar 1 Co-Lead, CoVaRR-Net.

Jason Kindrachuk, Assistant Professor, Canada Research Chair in Emerging Viruses; Department of Medical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, University of Manitoba; Pillar 2 Deputy, CoVaRR-Net.

Marc-André Langlois, former Canada Research Chair in Molecular Biology and Intrinsic Immunity, Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, University of Ottawa; Executive Director, CoVaRR-Net.

Andrew Morris, MD, Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto; Pillar 8 Deputy, CoVaRR-Net.

Angela Rasmussen, Research Scientist, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization and Adjunct Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology, University of Saskatchewan; Pillar 2 Lead, CoVaRR-Net.

Raphael Saginur, Chair of the Ottawa Health Science Network Research Ethics Board; Co-Director of Bioethics, CoVaRR-Net.

Fatima Tokhmafshan, Geneticist, Research Institute of McGill University Health Centre; Director of Community and Patient Engagement and Outreach, CoVaRR-Net.

Science for Journalists

April 2021 Interview with Dr. Angela Rasmussen | Module 1

Dr. Angela Rasmussen So I'm a virologist, and I study a number of different emerging viruses, including MERS coronavirus, influenza, dengue virus, Ebola virus, and now, of course, like many of my colleagues, SARS coronavirus-2. I focus on the host response to virus infection, so how your body and your immune system responds to infection with these emerging viruses and how that relates to disease as well as the protection that's provided by vaccines and immunization.

So mRNA vaccines and viral vector vaccines have actually been in development for a long time, including mRNA vaccines. By the way, that have been developed for MERS coronavirus, which is very related to SARS coronavirus-2. So we already knew a little bit about how these different types of vaccine platforms work against beta coronaviruses.

What I am surprised about is that this process only took a year, and not just in terms of the technology, that part actually didn't take very long at all because as I just said, these technologies already existed and we're in the process of being studied. I'm really surprised at how quickly they were able to perform really adequately powered phase III clinical trials and push it through the regulatory process so quickly.

That, to me, has been a very pleasant surprise. I would have thought that getting regulatory approval, testing the vaccines thoroughly to make sure that they're safe and actually manufacturing them and getting them out into people's arms would have taken longer than that.

Maryn Mckenna- So, you mentioned the clinical trials. I think anyone who's been following that knows that from trial to trial, the different vaccines that have been approved or authorized have shown different rates of efficacy. Is that important? Are you concerned about that?

Dr. Angela Rasmussen I'm not concerned about that, because to a certain degree, this is like comparing apples and oranges. These trials were all done differently. They were all overseen by different independent study monitoring boards or data safety monitoring boards. They were all done in many cases in different populations of people that have different risk for infection, and they are all different vaccines. They all are very good at preventing severe or lethal COVID-19. So they keep people out of the hospital, they keep people alive. And that's really the major end points that we want for these vaccines.

Maryn Mckenna- So, people are being vaccinated around the world. As the vaccines roll out, what's your biggest concern regarding them?

Angela Rasmussen -So I really have two concerns, and some of them are really country dependent. Some of them are more global. But the two major themes are vaccine hesitancy and equitable vaccine access. So even in countries that that have large supplies of the vaccines right now, there have been major issues with equitable access to the vaccine.

I'm very worried about vaccine hesitancy over the long term, and this is different in different countries. There are many reasons for vaccine hesitancy, but the issues with equity that I mentioned earlier actually contribute to vaccine hesitancy, because if people think, well, they're not prioritizing me or my community for vaccines, then why should we take them? Also there is a lot of misinformation that has been out there just swirling around about the vaccines; that they were developed too quickly, that they may not be safe, as I mentioned before, that one vaccine is going to be more effective than another.

All of this can erode people's confidence in the process by which the vaccines were developed and make them more reluctant to take those vaccines. So I think over time, we really need to be focused not just on equity and making sure that everybody can access the vaccines, but also that people understand that the vaccines are going to be net beneficial for everybody and address people's concerns, which are very reasonable in many cases.

So I think a lot of people are under the mistaken impression that vaccines are supposed to completely prevent any kind of infection. This is something that's usually referred to as sterilizing immunity. Sterilizing immunity is great when you can get it, but we have a number of effective vaccines that that don't rely on sterilizing immunity. For speed and also for the real problem overall with the public health concern with COVID is not just are people getting infected with SARS coronavirus-2, it's are people getting sick and going to the hospital and dying from COVID-19.

And so the clinical trials were designed to assess how well the vaccines can prevent COVID-19, not necessarily how well they can protect against infection with SARS coronavirus-2. And I think that a lot of people are confused because they may think that infection automatically means that you have the disease, but there are a number of people who have asymptomatic or very, very mild COVID-19 after being infected with SARS coronavirus-2.

So if you have, most of the people who would have otherwise gotten COVID-19 and ended up in the hospital or maybe even died from having it, if all of a sudden those people are vaccinated and they are getting asymptomatically infected, then that's no longer a public health problem. They're going to continue to live healthy and productive lives. So that's what the vaccines were originally evaluated for.

Dr. Angela Rasmussen So, continue to take precautions until you can get vaccinated, until most of the people in your community can get vaccinated. But the vaccines really are the way to ending this pandemic, both through reducing the burden of disease and likely at population level, reducing transmission.

So by reducing community transmission, by taking normal exposure risk-reduction precautions that we have been taking throughout the pandemic, such as masking and physical distancing, increasing ventilation, practicing good hand hygiene, avoiding crowds, things like that, if you can do as many of those as possible, you will reduce community transmission that will not only reduce your risk of contracting one of these variants, it will also reduce the risk that new variants will emerge in the future that could have more of an impact in terms of transmissibility or the ability to get around immune responses.

The biggest disappointment of the pandemic for me is the lack of global cooperation and collaboration. Normally, the World Health Organization is sort of the central clearinghouse for this. But in this case, many of the wealthier countries, including the US, where I'm from, have really responded to this in a very nationalized way.17)

18)

===== Major Media “Expert Opinion” =====19)

Canada The Chronicle Journal

Canada monitoring 'whole slew' of variants, says chief public health officer Jul 8, 2021

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, said there has been a pattern of panicking that vaccines won't work every time there is a new variant.

“It's like 'Oh no, new mutations,' but actually Lamda doesn't really have new mutations, it just has new combinations of mutations that we've already seen before,” she said.

Early studies, including one from New York University published July 2, suggest Lambda may be a bit resistant to antibodies produced by the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, but concluded it is not by enough “to cause a significant loss of protection against infection.”

Rasmussen also said most vaccine tests on variants are done in labs, not people, and give an incomplete picture of how immunity from vaccines work, including T-cells, which are separate from antibodies but also help kill viruses.

Rasmussen is part of a new network of Canadian scientists that launched this week specifically to collaborate on studies of COVID-19 variants.

The Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network, known informally as CoVaRR-Net, is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Information. It has already launched eight different studies to see how variants are spreading in Canada, including wastewater monitoring for variants in four major cities, and closer looks at how they are responding to vaccines.

They also have a project to develop better education for the public about what variants are and how they affect the pandemic. Rasmussen said people really need to understand that mutations and variants are a normal evolutionary process. Viruses spread by making copies of themselves inside human or animal cells, and most of those copies aren't perfect.

Sometimes, the virus gets lucky and the mutation makes it stronger, said Rasmussen. That can mean it infects people more easily, it could make you more sick when it does infect you, or, and this is perhaps most worrying to many, resist vaccines.

A variant is labelled as being “of interest” if it suspected of doing one of those three things, and has been found in multiple places. It is elevated to being “of concern” if any of those suspicions are confirmed.20)

FORBES

=== A Virologist Explains Why COVID-19 Coronavirus Isn’t Really Dangerously Lingering On Surfaces For Weeks === 21)

April 7, 2020 Angela Rasmussen - Coronavirus Frontlines Contributor Group - Healthcare

Coronavirus Frontlines is a special series where we are sharing the perspective of experts at the forefront of combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

You may have heard reports that researchers found RNA material from the coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship 17 days after the ship was vacated. Or maybe you heard that there was widespread environmental contamination of viral RNA in COVID-19 patient rooms at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Or perhaps you read an article saying that viral RNA could be detected up to 37 days in patients following the onset of COVID-19 disease. This might put in your head that COVID-19 patients are effectively clouds of contagion for months, shedding the virus for days before they knew they were sick and long after they recovered.

Calm down. And rest assured that this is not necessarily the case. That’s because the test used to detect the virus in these studies doesn't actually measure whether it’s still infectious. Let’s break down some of the science.

The test in these studies uses a very well-established technique called quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction, or qRT-PCR. This test demonstrates whether a person is infected or not by detecting the presence and relative quantity of viral RNA. Basically, “Is the virus in your system?” So what you might think about qRT-PCR tests is that measurements of how much viral RNA is detected corresponds directly to how infectious a person is. But that’s not what those tests are looking for.

For reasons that are not fully understood, patients that have recovered from a viral infection have cells that can continue to produce viral RNA without actually making infectious virus particles. That means it is not only possible but common to detect viral RNA without there being any infectious virus present.

Fortunately, two studies22) have investigated the ability of virus to remain infectious on different materials in the environment. Although the length of time that virus on a surface remains infectious is dependent on environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity, no virus remained infectious on surfaces for anywhere near 17 days. Furthermore, in both studies, the amount of infectious virus was greatly reduced after several days. This suggests that risk of infection from virus on objects or surfaces in the environment can be minimized by diligent cleaning and disinfection practices.

Worried Your Pet Has COVID-19? This Virologist Breaks Down The Science Of Animal Infections

Editors' Pick|Apr 13, 2020 - Coronavirus Frontlines - Angela Rasmussen Contributor

Earlier this month, news broke that a Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Nadia, along with her sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions exhibited signs of respiratory disease. Apart from being incredibly on-brand for this pandemic, given the popularity of the Netflix documentary Tiger King, this raised a number of concerns. Will domestic pets get COVID-19? Can we transmit the virus to pets? Can we get the virus from our pets?

The Good News

Zoonotic transmission is when humans contract an infection from animals. The primary good news is that so far, there is no evidence suggesting that humans have contracted SARS-CoV-2 zoonotically from their pets. In fact, analysis of the genome sequence of the virus recovered from Nadia suggests that she was infected with a strain circulating in humans. This was determined when the viral genome sequence from Nadia was uploaded to the NextStrain database and compared with all the SARS-CoV-2 isolated sequences from human patients around the world. This suggests that anthroponotic transmission—from humans to animals—infected Nadia.

Fortunately, most people do not keep tigers or other big cats as household pets or interact with them frequently. However, the news about Nadia the tiger’s case of COVID-19 broke several days after a team from the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute in China released data that domestic cats and ferrets are susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2.

Yet another study indicates more bad news, showing that of approximately 100 cats studied in Wuhan, 15% had developed antibodies to the virus, meaning that they were previously infected. The question of cat susceptibility and the potential for zoonotic transmission is by no means settled, but it does have important implications for controlling SARS-CoV-2 spread over the long term.

If it turns out that cats or other domestic animals can transmit the virus zoonotically to humans, they could become a potential reservoir for SARS-CoV-2. A reservoir is a population of susceptible animals that can carry the virus and potentially seed new outbreaks in the human population. In addition to being popular pets, there are millions of feral cats in the United States and around the world, comprising a huge potential reservoir for SARS-CoV-2 in the wild. It’s critical to do more research to assess the risk to cats, as that also might help prevent future COVID-19 outbreaks both in humans and in our furry friends.23)

LEAPS Mag

Antibody Testing Alone is Not the Key to Re-Opening Society24) Big Questions Opinion Essay - Angela Rasmussen April 20, 2020

Editor's Note: We asked experts from different specialties to weigh in on a timely Big Question: “How should immunity testing play a role in re-opening society?” Below, a virologist offers her perspective.]

With the advent of serology testing and increased emphasis on “re-opening” America, public health officials have begun considering whether or not people who have recovered from COVID-19 can safely re-enter the workplace.

Conventional wisdom holds that people who have developed antibodies in response to infection with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, are likely to be immune to reinfection. For most acute viral infections, this is generally true. However, SARS-CoV-2 is a new pathogen, and there are currently many unanswered questions about immunity. Can recovered patients be reinfected or transmit the virus? Does symptom severity determine how protective responses will be after recovery? How long will protection last? Understanding these basic features is essential to phased re-opening of the government and economy for people who have recovered from COVID-19.

One mechanism that has been considered is issuing “immunity certificates” to individuals with antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. These certificates would verify that individuals have already recovered from COVID-19, and thus have antibodies in their blood that will protect them against reinfection, enabling them to safely return to work and participate in society. Although this sounds reasonable in theory, there are many practical reasons why this is not a wise policy decision to ease off restrictive stay-home orders and distancing practices.

The limited data so far is encouraging with regard to protective immunity. Most of the patient sera tested for antibodies show reasonable titers of IgG, the type of antibodies most likely to be neutralizing. Furthermore, studies have shown that these IgG antibodies are capable of neutralizing surrogate viruses as well as infectious SARS-CoV-2 in laboratory tests.

In addition, rhesus monkeys that were experimentally infected with SARS-CoV-2 and allowed to recover were protected from reinfection after a subsequent experimental challenge. These data tentatively suggest that most people are likely to develop neutralizing IgG, and protective immunity, after being infected by SARS-CoV-2.

However, not all COVID-19 patients do produce high levels of antibodies specific for SARS-CoV-2. A small number of patients in one study had no detectable neutralizing IgG. There have also been reports of patients in South Korea testing PCR positive after a prior negative test, indicating reinfection or reactivation. These cases may be explained by the sensitivity of the PCR test, and no data have been produced to indicate that these cases are genuine reinfection or recurrence of viral infection.

Complicating matters further, not all serology tests measure antibody titers. Some rapid serology tests are designed to be binary—the test can either detect antibodies or not, but does not give information about the amount of antibodies circulating. Based on our current knowledge, we cannot be certain that merely having any level of detectable antibodies alone guarantees protection from reinfection, or from a subclinical reinfection that might not cause a second case of COVID-19, but could still result in transmission to others. These unknowns remain problematic even with tests that accurately detect the presence of antibodies—which is not a given today, as many of the newly available tests are reportedly unreliable.

Slate

What We Really Know About the Risk of Coronavirus Reinfection By Angela Rasmussen - Aug 26, 2020

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been anecdotal reports of COVID-19 patients becoming reinfected with SARS-CoV-2. Until this week, there was no concrete evidence demonstrating that SARS-CoV-2 reinfection could occur. A man who previously recovered from COVID-19 in March tested positive at an airport screening site this month while returning to his home in Hong Kong. According to a paper from researchers at Hong Kong University, viral genome sequencing showed that he was infected with two different genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2 and was therefore authentically reinfected, although the authors have not presented data to rule out contamination, which can readily occur in labs that process many clinical samples that may all contain different variants of the virus. (The paper was recently accepted for publication in Clinical Infectious Diseases.) Since then, two more cases of reinfection have been reported in the Netherlands and Belgium, although no data has been made available to confirm these findings.

But this is not cause for alarm. You cannot tell whether something is going to have a major impact on the pandemic by looking at a solitary case, or even a handful of cases. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the emerging viruses unit at the World Health Organization, emphasized that this needs to be studied at the population level before making any broader conclusions. Currently there’s very little evidence to suggest that reinfection is common.

So what can we learn about reinfection from these case reports and the relatively scant data they provide? Not much. But now we can begin to see how it aligns with other evidence about reinfection and immunity to SARS-CoV-2 and develop hypotheses that can then be tested in more rigorous clinical studies or in experimental models.

Most commonly, a PCR test is used to diagnose SARS-CoV-2 infection, which specifically detects and amplifies a small piece of the viral genome directly. But antibody tests, which are what’s most relevant here, quantify antibody titers. Some can also determine how many neutralizing antibodies in a serum sample can inactivate either authentic SARS-CoV-2 or a surrogate virus.

This type of nonsterilizing immune protection against disease has been observed in all of the studies testing vaccines in rhesus macaques: Not all the vaccinated animals were protected against infection, but they were much less sick, at least in terms of their clinical presentation, laboratory values, respiratory rates, and tissue pathology, compared with control animals. None of this is surprising, nor does it suggest that reinfection is going to be a huge problem for public health, at least by being frequently associated with severe COVID-19. In fact, it doesn’t tell us much at all because you can’t definitively investigate what happened in a single case study in a rigorous or controlled way.

There are far fewer reports of people testing positive more than four months past recovery, although that may be because people who have recovered from COVID-19 are less likely to seek testing months after their symptoms resolve or they test negative, or if they have had an antibody test and are seropositive. However, if reinfection commonly causes severe COVID-19, no evidence of that has been found to date. With more than 24 million SARS-CoV-2 cases worldwide, it’s likely that reinfection is probably rare if it hasn’t been observed until now. We also can’t exclude the possibility that this sample may be a false positive resulting from contamination of either sample, in which case we are still waiting for a confirmed report of bona fide reinfection.

We need to understand how common it is and whether reinfected patients develop severe COVID-19, we need to determine the relationship of reinfection to immunity, and we need to assess whether these patients are capable of shedding infectious virus and transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to others. That information can’t be obtained from a single case. Until we have evidence that reinfection is something to worry about, we should instead focus on reducing the transmission risk for everyone in the community—regardless of whether they have already been infected with SARS-CoV-2.25)

New York Times

Another group of scientists calls for further inquiry into origins of the coronavirus 26)

14 May 2021 by James Gorman and Carl Zimmer, The New York Times

A photo provided by EcoHealth Alliance shows researchers collecting samples from bats for analysis in Guangdong province, China, in April 2019. A group of 18 scientists stated Thursday, May 13, 2021, in a letter published in the journal Science that there is not enough evidence to decide whether a natural origin or an accidental laboratory leak caused the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organisers of the letter, Jesse Bloom, who studies the evolution of viruses at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and David Relman, a microbiologist at Stanford University, said they strove to articulate a wait-and-see viewpoint that they believe is shared by many scientists. Many of the signers have not spoken out before.

The list of signers includes researchers with deep knowledge of the SARS family of viruses, such as Ralph Baric at the University of North Carolina, who had collaborated with the Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli in research done at the university on the original SARS virus. Baric did not respond to attempts to reach him by email and telephone.

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, has criticised the politicisation of the laboratory leak theory.

She supports further investigation, but said that “there is more evidence (both genomic and historical precedent) that this was the result of zoonotic emergence rather than a laboratory accident.”

July 2, 2021 by Michelle Goldberg New York Times Opinion Columnist

Finally, Experts Break the Silence on J.&J. Boosters27)

Early last month, I got my third Covid vaccine shot. I now realize this was overkill and I’m fairly embarrassed about it, but at the time I felt like I was operating in an information vacuum.

As I’ve written before, I participated in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial. Even though I initially got the placebo, the study offered me the opportunity to get the real thing weeks before I’d have otherwise been eligible, and I gratefully accepted. At the time, public health authorities were telling everyone to take the first shot you could get.

I’m still glad I followed this advice; after gutting out the worst year of my life, I was terrified of getting Covid right on the brink of vaccine salvation.

Some other people were quietly doing the same thing I had. Right after getting the Pfizer shot, I called the J.&J. trial to confess, in case the people running it needed me to drop out. The person I spoke to said that while it wasn’t ideal, I should keep participating, and that I wasn’t the only volunteer who’d gone out and gotten a second vaccine.

The evidentiary void around J.&J. seemed to grow more frightening with the spread of the Delta variant. Previously, data from Britain had shown that a single dose of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca provided pretty good protection against Covid infection. With Delta, single-dose protection went way down, to around 35 percent.

For weeks, no one knew what that meant for the J.&J. vaccine. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan, had the Johnson & Johnson shot, and has been hearing from people who’d also gotten it and were scared.

“I really don’t blame people — they keep hearing all this stuff about two shots, two shots, Delta, you need to be fully vaccinated,” she told me earlier this week. “And nobody’s really saying anything about Johnson & Johnson.” Many people, she said, “feel that they’ve been left behind because there really isn’t any new information coming out about it.”

On June 21, Rasmussen decided to get a Pfizer booster. At around the same time, Michael Z. Lin, a neurobiologist and bioengineer at Stanford, wrote a Twitter thread arguing that the C.D.C. should issue guidance on mRNA boosters for people who’d received J.&J. A couple of days later, Andy Slavitt, until recently a senior adviser to Joe Biden’s pandemic response team, put out an episode of his podcast titled, “The Delta Variant Question No One Will Answer,” addressing those who’d received Johnson & Johnson and were wondering about getting another shot. He was equivocal: either wait for the data, or “go ahead and take a Pfizer or Moderna shot.”

I wish I’d heard these voices earlier, because by then I’d already gotten two Pfizer shots. When the clinic scheduled my second appointment, I wasn’t sure whether to return for it. I’m still not sure why I did. Mostly, at a time when no one was talking about J.&J. boosters, I didn’t want to be an anomaly. I wanted the full Pfizer course because I didn’t want to worry about whether new findings about mRNA effectiveness against the variants applied to me.28)

CBC Saskatoon Online

COVID-19 vaccine one important line of defense for students, but not the only one, says virologist29)

Limiting indoor contacts, wearing sealed masks and using rapid tests can help, said Angela Rasmussen CBC News · Posted: Jan 03, 2022

Vaccination is an essential defence against COVID-19, particularly for kids as they head back to school this week, but it shouldn't be the only precaution taken, according to a University of Saskatchewan virologist.

Everyone should take several basic safety measures to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, said Angela Rasmussen, an expert in emerging global viruses at the U of S Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO).

People should limit indoor contacts, use high-quality masks and pick up a box of free rapid tests to deal with the latest wave of the pandemic, she said.

Rasmussen spoke to Saskatoon Morning host Leisha Grebinski.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

CBC: We're facing a fifth wave here driven by the Omicron variant. Why is a booster shot so important?

Rasmussen: The booster shot, it turns out, is really important in terms of reducing your risk of contracting Omicron and also making sure that your protection against severe disease remains high. Some studies have shown that two doses of the vaccine provide pretty good protection against severe illness.

It's good news in the sense that there is still protection against severe disease, but they found that with a booster shot, it also improved protection against getting infected in the first place, taking it back up to about 70 per cent. And it really did boost the protection against severe disease back up into that 90 per cent range. Getting a booster shot will also improve the protection you have that will help keep you out of the hospital if you do happen to have a breakthrough case.

CBC: We've got children heading back to school and, of course, there are still those kids under five who are not yet eligible for any vaccine. Do you have any final thoughts on those issues?

Rasmussen: This is a really, really tough decision that I think a lot of parents are trying to make right now. It clearly is important that kids have access to school and that in-person learning is really something that can't be substituted completely with remote learning. I would say if you're going to send your children back and they're over the age of five, make sure that they're fully vaccinated as soon as possible. Make sure they have high-quality masks that form a seal around the mouth and nose.

The Globe and Mail

When might the looming Omicron wave peak? How scientists are tracking its spread as it sweeps the world December 24, 2021 by Ivan Semeniuk - Science Reporter

This week, the battle against Omicron got personal for Angela Rasmussen.

Dr. Rasmussen, a virologist who came to Canada earlier in the year to take up a position at the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, was looking forward to spending Christmas with family near Seattle.

Her husband had already departed, and she was planning to follow on Tuesday. But the growing chance of picking up an infection en route, potentially endangering family members, including a three-year-old niece who is not vaccinated, changed her mind.

“It sucks, but I think I made the right move,” Dr. Rasmussen said. Colleagues in Saskatoon have invited her to spend some time over the holiday, she said, “so it won’t just be me alone listing to Christmas music, crying.”

On top of personal considerations, Dr. Rasmussen said she does not want to be caught up in quarantine or travel delays outside Canada while an Omicron wave is imminent. She expects to be back in her lab at the start of the new year overseeing experiments that will test the ability of the variant to jump from humans to about 30 other animal hosts, including domestic pets, livestock and wildlife from beavers to bears.30)

Yahoo News Finance

COVID-19: 'There's still a lot more that the government could be doing,' virologist says31) January 19, 2022

Yahoo Finance Video COVID-19: 'There's still a lot more that the government could be doing,' virologist says Wed, January 19, 2022, 6:40 PM

University of Saskatchewan Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization Virologist Angela Rasmussen joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the issues the government needs to work on when it comes to keeping communities safe as the coronavirus pandemic enters its third year. Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Welcome to Yahoo Finance Live. I'm Akiko Fujita along with Brad Smith. It was roughly two years ago today when the first COVID-19 case in the US was reported. Test results in Washington state confirmed that case several days later. And over the next hour, we're going to be taking a closer look at the progress that has been made so far and the challenges that still lie ahead.

I want to start, though, with where things stand right now. And, Brad, these numbers really do tell this story. 334 million COVID cases confirmed globally. Roughly 68 million reported in the US, and 854,000 people have died from the virus in this country alone.

AKIKO FUJITA: And, Anjalee, I know you're sticking around for the hour, but I want to bring in our first guest here, Angela Rasmussen, University of Saskatchewan Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization Virologist. And, Angela, you have been on our show throughout the pandemic sort of giving us guidance as we sort of get the news.

And Anjalee just pointing to what we have seen most recently from the White House, today announcing that they're going to be distributing 400 million N95 masks, also that website for Americans to be able to get those free at-home COVID tests being launched overnight as well. How far does that go when you think about where we are today, the challenges that exist– how much progress can be made?

ANGELA RASMUSSEN Well, I think it certainly is progress, considering that a month, a month and a half ago, there was really no plan to deliver tests to people for free. People were going to only be able to source tests by getting insurance reimbursement for tests that they purchased themselves. There was no recommendation for wearing high quality masks.

So we have made some progress. But as Anjalee pointed out, a lot of this has been communicated badly. And frankly, a lot of this response is too late. It's also insufficient. So four tests per household is really not enough for many– actually for many households to actually give one test to each person in the household. And if you want to be using those rapid tests regularly to monitor whether or not you might be a risk for transmission to the rest of your community, four tests isn't really going to cut it even in a one-person household. So I think that there's still a lot more that the government could be doing in terms of giving people the tools to monitor their status and to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe.

ANGELA RASMUSSEN Well, I think it's pretty clear that masks are helpful in reducing transmission in the community. And certainly, N95 respirators are more effective than a surgical mask, a medical mask, or a homemade cloth mask, in particular. While all masks provide some benefit in the form of source control, which is effectively preventing people from exhaling potentially infectious particles into their environment, the N95 respirators provide protection for the person wearing them as well.

So they prevent you from inhaling any virus particles that might be floating in the air as aerosols in the space that you're in. And they certainly do make it safer. Now, previously during the pandemic, we weren't able to do this or to make this recommendation because health care workers need those N95 respirators since they are working in such a high risk environment.

But now that we have a surplus of those N95 respirators, I think that getting them out to people for free, since cost is certainly a barrier to using those high quality face masks, is a really good move. And I think we need to make sure that we can keep these respirators in people's hands as they start to return to work, as they return to school, as they return to living their lives outside of their homes once this wave passes.

ANGELA RASMUSSEN Yeah, I think this discussion about whether Omicron is milder can lead to some really harmful places. So it is certainly good news that in people who've had a prior exposure, prior infection, or have been vaccinated and, ideally, boosted, do tend to have less severe disease caused by Omicron if they have a breakthrough infection.

And I should add, too, that while boosters can't completely protect somebody from getting infected with Omicron, they certainly reduce the risk of being infected. So they do reduce infection, they do reduce transmission. It's really important to get those boosters. But there are still many, many people in the US, 40% of the population, roughly, that's eligible, that have not been vaccinated.

And I'm not convinced that Omicron actually milder in those people. And of the people who are being hospitalized, we are seeing the unvaccinated, again, having the most serious and severe outcomes. Furthermore, people who have been vaccinated who get Omicron don't necessarily– they might not die, they might not be hospitalized, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's mild. Certainly, people have taken a long time to recover from having a so-called mild case of COVID that doesn't require hospitalization.

So the best thing that we all need to be focusing on is doing everything that we can to reduce prevalence in the community. That means wearing masks, taking precautions, and getting vaccinated and boosted. As you pointed out, Anjalee, there is certainly a possibility that new variants will emerge.

Worldwide, there are still three billion people who have not gotten any doses of any vaccine. So that's certainly fertile ground for new variants to propagate and emerge into the rest of the population. And frankly, we may not be so lucky next time. If it's significantly different than Omicron or any of the other variants that have circulated before, there's certainly the possibility of more breakthrough infections and there certainly the more possibility of a variant that is more pathogenic.

ANGELA RASMUSSEN So, frankly, I don't think that elimination is going to be possible with this virus. This virus infects a number of different animal species. This is actually one thing that my lab works on. And even if every human being on the planet was vaccinated, there's still potentially susceptible hosts in the form of other animals that this virus could get into.

So endemicity is really what we're talking about. But I don't think a lot of people really have a good understanding of what endemicity means. Endemicity doesn't mean that it's milder, it also doesn't mean that it's spreading like crazy either. It means that there's a regular and predictable level of spread.

So if we get to the point where the global population has reached population immunity, even if new variants that are emerging can infect people who have been vaccinated or immunized, that doesn't necessarily mean that the virus is just going to be spreading among them as if it were spreading through a susceptible population. As I mentioned before, even vaccines that aren't completely protective against infection do reduce transmission.

And part of the reason for this is that they may not be able to stop the infection altogether, but they do reduce the amount of virus that a person is shedding. They reduce the length of time that a person is infected. And at population level, this significantly reduces transmission. And we've eliminated, effectively, or gotten to very, very low, endemic levels of many viruses using vaccines that weren't completely sterilizing– meaning they didn't completely protect against infection.

So I think that's what we're looking at with endemicity. But again, as long as a third of the human population remains unvaccinated and 40% of the US population remains unvaccinated, this is something that we're going to continue to see. We're going to continue to see epidemic spread of SARS Coronavirus 2 variants like we're seeing with Omicron. And that is not a constant, predictable level of spread.

That is a huge surge in new cases that can potentially overwhelm health care systems. So endemicity is really the goal. But to get there, we need to both reduce the amount of virus that's circulating in the human population and make humans in general less susceptible to being infected by vaccinating and boosting everybody that we can.

Macleans Canada

The team of scientists guarding Canada against COVID variants—'the known unknown'

The Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network CoVaRR-Net will serve as Canada’s early warning system for variants that could hurl us back into pandemic misery By Patricia Treble November 29, 2021

Rather, it’s a “known unknown” that keeps Langlois up at night: “The greatest threat will come from a variant that returns to an animal reservoir—infecting your domestic cat, for example, then mutating in your cat in a certain way that the human system will not allow. And then the virus would be transmitted back to humans in this slightly different form.

“This is what we consider the No. 1 threat to the current vaccines,” Langlois adds, because such a change could render all of them ineffective. In October, his network created a new pillar, “host-pathogen interactions,” led by Dr. Angela Rasmussen, an expert in the field who is a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization.

The virus that causes COVID, says Rasmussen, “is a generalist, and it can infect a lot of different species.” Already, antibodies have been detected in white-tailed deer, as well as some zoo animals. “It’s not lost on me that a lot of the zoo animals that have been infected are big cats,” she adds. “There’s already quite a bit of data suggesting not only that cats can be infected, but that they can transmit it to each other.”

That concerns Rasmussen, because cats—feral, stray and pet—are present in huge numbers all over the world. Moreover, they interact a great deal, both with each other and with humans.32)

Higher Education Times

by Collective Women

Women in science are battling both Covid-19 and the patriarchy33)

The pandemic has worsened longstanding sexist and racist inequalities in science pushing many of us to say ‘I’m done’, write 35 female scientists May 15, 2020

(selected quotes no specific attribution)

Successful female scientists are, by definition, resilient. We have overcome well-documented barriers throughout our lives: discouragement by teachers, family and society to pursue careers in STEM fields; a lack of role models; hostile and sometimes abusive work environments; disproportionate domestic work and caring responsibilities; and biases against us in favour of men in every aspect of our professional lives – hiring, promotion, publishing, pay, service loads and grant allocation. These barriers are felt even more keenly by women of colour, who face the intersectional effects of racism and sexism.

And yet, even these lifelong battles for a place in science have left us unprepared for the gendered and racial inequalities we have experienced in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The worst impacts of the coronavirus will undoubtedly be the loss of lives, the collapse of economies, the disruption of humanitarian aid and the decay of democracies. But we fear that the hard-won progress for women in science will be collateral damage of this crisis.

Together, we represent scientists in North America and Europe who are working on Covid-19 both through research and in the translation of research to clinical responses, policy and public communication. We span the academic career pipeline from graduate students all the way up to senior, tenured faculty. We all share the same experience: the scientific response to Covid-19 has been characterised by an extraordinary level of sexism and racism.

Women are advising policymakers, designing clinical trials, coordinating field studies and leading data collection and analysis, but you would never know it from the media coverage of the pandemic. More than ever before, epidemiologists, virologists, and clinicians are communicating with journalists and the public about their science. But highly visible articles in The New York Times and other media outlets about the scientists involved in the response are biased towards men, even though there are plenty of qualified women on the frontlines of the Covid-19 response that could easily be identified by checking author lists and scientific websites.

Neither epidemiology nor medicine are male-dominated fields, but women are quoted less often – sometimes not at all – in articles. What’s more, the lack of inclusion of leaders of colour is striking and disenfranchising for minority women scientists of colour, particularly as communities of colour are being hit hardest by this epidemic.

Even within our own institutions, unqualified men’s voices are being amplified over expert women because they have been identified through informal male networks, or have blustered their way in to social media and TV interviews and are therefore perceived as “high profile”.

Not including women’s voices in the public discussion of the Covid-19 pandemic is a distortion of reality. It not only perpetuates the invisibility of women in science and leadership positions, undermining our ability to be taken seriously as experts and failing to provide role models for younger women, but also impacts our careers as we strive to prove the impact of our work to funding agencies, colleagues, and hiring or promotion committees.

We have also noticed that women are more likely to be doing work that is focused on “getting shit done”– the operational work and supporting decision-makers, for example – rather than writing scientific papers or grants.

And then there is the potentially dangerous issue of unqualified men being listened to more than women experts, reflecting the fact that white male power structures seem unable to entrust the most important public health questions to anyone other than white men, regardless of their qualifications.

As women who are deeply involved in Covid-19 science, it has become clear to us that our expertise means little when it comes to real decision-making in this public health emergency. We are frustrated that our work is being overlooked and misrepresented in the media. We’re exhausted knowing that after this is all over we will have a powerful fight on our hands to reclaim the professional ground that is slipping away from us during this emergency.

  • Caroline Buckee is an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
  • Bethany Hedt-Gauthier is an associate professor of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School.
  • Ayesha Mahmud is an assistant professor of demography at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Pamela Martinez is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
  • Christine Tedijanto is an epidemiology graduate student at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
  • Megan Murray is a professor of global health at Harvard Medical School.
  • Rebecca Khan is an epidemiology graduate student at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
  • Tigist Menkir is an epidemiology graduate student at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
  • Ruoran Li is a postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
  • Sara Suliman is an instructor in medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School.
  • Bailey K. Fosdick is an assistant professor of statistics at Colorado State University.
  • Sarah Cobey is an associate professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago.
  • Angela Rasmussen is an associate research scientist at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
  • Saskia Popescu is a senior infection preventionist at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
  • Muge Cevik is a clinical fellow at the school of medicine at the University of St Andrews.
  • Sara Dada is a global health researcher at the Vayu Global Health Foundation.
  • Helen Jenkins is an assistant professor of biostatistics at Boston University School of Public Health.
  • Hannah Clapham is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore.
  • Erin Mordecai is an assistant professor of biology at Stanford University.
  • Katie Hampson is a research fellow at the University of Glasgow.
  • Maimuna S. Majumder is a faculty member of the Computational Health Informatics Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
  • Amy Wesolowski is an assistant professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
  • Krutika Kuppalli is an Emerging Leader in Biosecurity Fellow at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
  • Isabel Rodriguez Barraquer is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
  • Tara C. Smith is a professor of epidemiology at Kent State University College of Public Health.
  • Emma B. Hodcroft is a postdoctoral researcher at the Biozentrum institute at the University of Basel.
  • Rebecca C. Christofferson works in the department of pathobiological sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine at Louisiana State University.
  • Jaline Gerardin is an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
  • Rosalind Eggo is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
  • Lauren Cowley is a prize fellow of Bioinformatics at the University of Bath.
  • Lauren M. Childs is an assistant professor of mathematics at Virginia Tech.
  • Lindsay T. Keegan is a research assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Utah.
  • Virginia Pitzer is an associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health.
  • Catherine Oldenburg is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco.
  • Roopa Dhatt is executive director and co-founder of Women in Global Health.

Foreign Policy Smear Jeffrey Sachs

September 15, 2022 An expert's point of view on a current event.

Conspiracy Theories About COVID-19 Help Nobody

The continued pushing of a “lab-leak” theory is unsupported and dangerous. By Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan, and Michael Worobey, department head of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona

September 15, 2022

In July 2020, the Lancet, one of the world’s premier medical journals, announced the creation of a COVID-19 “Commission” with the stated mission “to help speed up global, equitable, and lasting solutions to the pandemic.” Many of the commissioners are distinguished scientists, doctors, former politicians, or policy experts with a clear connection to the remit of a COVID-19 Commission. But the choice of chair was an unusual one. Jeffrey Sachs is a Columbia University economist with no expertise in virology, evolution, epidemiology, or public health.

Cooperation among experts in different fields is usually a positive and rewarding effort. But as a virologist specializing in host interactions with emerging viruses and an evolutionary biologist with expertise in viral pandemic origins, we find it troubling how easily Sachs has leveraged his academic celebrity to publish grave, unsubstantiated accusations under the guise of legitimate scholarship.

Sachs has consistently pushed the idea that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was engineered in a laboratory. Michael Worobey, one of this article’s authors, has been one of the most vocal proponents of taking the idea of a lab leak seriously, proposing an influential letter published in Science that brought the hypothesis into the mainstream.

It was a hypothesis worth considering, especially the version that posited a natural bat virus infecting an unsuspecting lab worker; the evidence now, however, overwhelmingly indicates the pandemic did not originate via any kind of laboratory incident.

Sachs’s increasingly speculative musing about pandemic origins culminated in a recent interview with Current Affairs, in which he directly dismissed the findings of our recent, peer-reviewed paper that established the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market as the epicenter of the pandemic, with live animals being sold there the overwhelmingly likely conduit of the virus into humans. Instead of engaging with the evidence we used to reach this conclusion, Sachs claims that we are “creating a narrative” to avoid addressing his preferred hypothesis: The pandemic began as a result of a conspiracy between the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NIH-funded scientists, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).

Sachs recently appeared on a podcast with notorious anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., where he elaborated on these claims. He believes that American and Chinese scientists collaboratively conducted so-called gain of function research—or experiments to make a pathogen more transmissible and/or pathogenic—and that this may have been part of “biodefense” research funded by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which does not include biodefense as its primary focus. Kennedy insinuates that this alleged work may have been a violation of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), a disarmament treaty that expressly forbids the development of such agents, to which Sachs replies “You can’t make this stuff up,” going on to say “a lot of this work is around the biodefense, highly classified environment and of course that means that the transparency, the understanding of what is going on here is so much less indeed than it otherwise might have been.”

Such serious allegations should be backed up by substantive evidence. However, no such evidence is offered besides suspicions based on unfunded grant applications, speculation about NIAID director Anthony Fauci’s motives, and the notion that virologists are lying to protect their profession and research funds. To date, apart from these unfounded suspicions, the sole piece of evidence that supports a lab leak is the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan, China.

By contrast, the evidence consistent with a zoonotic origin, meaning infections that spread between animals and humans, is overwhelming and has since rendered the likelihood of a “lab leak”—resulting from bioweapons development or not—miniscule. Where a lab leak at the WIV might be expected to have led to the first COVID-19 cases being detected there, there were none. Instead, the majority of cases were at the largest live wildlife market in Wuhan, one of only a handful in the city with consistent sales.

Where a lab leak might lead at most to an unprecedented single arrival of a new virus into humans, instead we find a roughly 99 percent probability that SARS-CoV-2 spilled over at least twice, as with other animal spillovers, with each early lineage geographically associated with Huanan. Lab leak conspiracy theorists point to a WIV database that supposedly went offline in September 2019. But the pandemic started in October 2019 at the earliest. And so on.

These interviews and appearances continue a dangerous record of meddling and conspiratorialism on his part as head of the Lancet’s COVID-19 Commission. Although a COVID-19 “origins task force” initially included many scientists whose expertise and objectivity were praised by Sachs, it was eventually disbanded unilaterally by Sachs due to “potential conflicts of interest,” specifically connections of a minority of members to EcoHealth Alliance and WIV, two institutions accused of involvement in a “lab leak” origin of the pandemic. At the time, Sachs declared, “I just didn’t want a task force that was so clearly involved with one of the main issues of this whole search for the origins.”

Despite having no scientific expertise on the matter, Sachs authored an opinion piece in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, making the unsupported claim that this part of the viral genome, called the furin cleavage site, was “a deliberate introduction,” citing an unfunded grant proposal from researchers at EcoHealth Alliance, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and WIV, describing work that was likely never performed. Furin cleavage sites have evolved naturally in multiple coronaviruses, including two that cause the common cold.

We authored a recent opinion piece explaining how we conclusively determined that the pandemic’s epicenter was the Huanan market to a general audience in plain language, including the observation that the sole piece of evidence linking the pandemic to the WIV is that it began in Wuhan. Sachs declares our viewpoint “a lie.”

Our work comprises multiple streams of verifiable evidence that can only reasonably be explained by zoonotic emergence at the Huanan market. Sachs denigrated and dismissed it all as a “sleight of hand” intended to draw the public’s gaze away from the WIV, presumably to provide cover for virology as a profession and avoid inconvenient questions about excluding an alternative hypothesis—a well-worn lab leak talking point. This is especially remarkable given Worobey’s advocacy for exploring alternate hypotheses. Sachs advances another standard lab leak talking point: that no one has really evaluated the lab leak hypothesis. But our work could as easily have shown that the preponderance of early cases linked to the Huanan market was a mirage, or that the outbreak had a single origin, or that early spread in Wuhan was around the WIV.

Worobey was invited by Sachs in February, shortly after the preprint of our paper had posted, to appear as “one of a few outside experts” to speak about COVID-19 origins with the members of the Lancet’s COVID-19 Commission who had survived his earlier purge of members skeptical of lab leak hypotheses. Although he was initially keen to participate, Worobey’s correspondence with Sachs raised multiple red flags, including pretty standard conspiracy-minded lines from Sachs like, “NIH, it seems to me, has been evasive from the start.” Sachs had an appallingly weak grasp of the scientific work he had invited Worobey to discuss—no questions or comments indicating a reasonable, nonexpert level of comprehension of the findings or even basic, nontechnical details of Sachs having read his paper.

The other five experts included three people from other fields who had never published original, peer-reviewed research on any viral outbreak, let alone COVID-19. The remaining two included an expert on the antigenic evolution of SARS-CoV-2 with no previous track record of publishing on pandemic origins and a self-described “master virus hunter” who had done nothing to hunt down the origin of COVID-19 but had made specious claims about knowing about the outbreak before almost anyone else on the planet had.

The great pandemics of history have not been caused by “lab leaks” or government cover-ups. From the Black Death to the 1918 Spanish flu to HIV to COVID-19, pandemics began by zoonotic spillover into the human population. We are no longer defenseless against these threats because virology research allows us to understand where these pathogens come from, how they spread and cause disease, and how to develop crucial countermeasures, such as vaccines. Our ability to prepare and effectively respond depends on the collective knowledge gained through this research. Amateur efforts, especially when given cover by respectable institutions, are dangerous.

Although biosafety and biosecurity are of paramount importance, especially to virologists who actually handle these dangerous pathogens, they are irrelevant to the zoonotic origin of SARS-CoV-2 and polarize an ongoing discussion that must occur in a multidisciplinary, bipartisan way. Fictional origin stories that politicize regulating essential research only serve to remove the science from a necessarily scientific discourse.

The suspicion cast on virologists and epidemiologists is profoundly harmful. Sowing distrust in evidence-based inquiries destroys opportunities for international collaborations that are essential to this work. Biosecurity cooperation, once a relatively bright spot in U.S.-China relations, has been effectively destroyed. Pandemics by definition are global crises, and our ability to respond effectively requires global efforts, which should not be hindered by imaginary malfeasance.

Those promoting conspiracy theories and attacking scientific findings that don’t break in the direction they wish, regardless of how well credentialed, inflict extraordinary damage on our ability to effectively advance global health. A factual understanding of the pandemic’s origin is essential to these efforts. 34)

Publications

PubMed listed in order PhD “Dr” linked in bio35)

1. COVID-19 false dichotomies and a comprehensive review of the evidence regarding public health, COVID-19 symptomatology, SARS-CoV-2 transmission, mask wearing, and reinfection.

Escandón K, Rasmussen AL, Bogoch II, Murray EJ, Escandón K, Popescu SV, Kindrachuk J. BMC Infect Dis. 2021 Jul 27;21(1):710. doi: 10.1186/s12879-021-06357-4. PMID: 34315427

Abstract

Scientists across disciplines, policymakers, and journalists have voiced frustration at the unprecedented polarization and misinformation around coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Several false dichotomies have been used to polarize debates while oversimplifying complex issues. In this comprehensive narrative review, we deconstruct six common COVID-19 false dichotomies, address the evidence on these topics, identify insights relevant to effective pandemic responses, and highlight knowledge gaps and uncertainties.

References

Johns Hopkins University. Coronavirus Resource Center. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/ . Accessed 1 July 2021.

World Health Organization. Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Situation report 13. 2020. https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/330778 . Accessed 10 Apr 2020.

Zarocostas J. How to fight an infodemic. Lancet. 2020;395(10225):676. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30461-X . - DOI - PubMed - PMC

Roozenbeek J, Schneider CR, Dryhurst S, Kerr J, Freeman ALJ, Recchia G, et al. Susceptibility to misinformation about COVID-19 around the world. R Soc Open Sci. 2020;7(10):201199. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.201199 . - DOI - PubMed - PMC

van der Linden S, Roozenbeek J, Compton J. Inoculating against fake news about COVID-19. Front Psychol. 2020;11:566790. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.566790 .

Publication types Review

2. SARS-CoV-2 transmission without symptoms. Rasmussen AL, Popescu SV. Science. 2021 Mar 19;371(6535):1206-1207. doi: 10.1126/science.abf9569. PMID: 33737476 No abstract available.

Affiliations

1. Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA. ar1692@georgetown.edu spopesc2@gmu.edu.

2. Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA.

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3. Vaccination Is the Only Acceptable Path to Herd Immunity.36)

Rasmussen AL. Med (N Y). 2020 Dec 18;1(1):21-23. doi: 10.1016/j.medj.2020.12.004. PMID: 33521750 Free PMC article.

Abstract

Population-level herd immunity is critical for long-term control of SARS-CoV-2. However, proposals to reach the herd immunity threshold through naturally acquired infection, rather than vaccination, have complicated public health efforts and popularized policies that will lead to widespread transmission and mortality. Vaccination is the only viable path to herd immunity.© 2020 Elsevier Inc.

Publication types News

4. On the origins of SARS-CoV-2. 37)

Rasmussen AL. Nat Med. 2021 Jan;27(1):9. doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-01205-5. PMID: 33442004 No abstract available.

Publication types Comment

Affiliation

1. Center for Global Health Science and Security, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA. ar1692@georgetown.edu.

5. The UK needs a sustainable strategy for COVID-19.38)

Gurdasani D, Bear L, Bogaert D, Burgess RA, Busse R, Cacciola R, Charpak Y, Colbourn T, Drury J, Friston K, Gallo V, Goldman LR, Greenhalgh T, Hyde Z, Kuppalli K, Majumder MS, Martin-Moreno JM, McKee M, Michie S, Mossialos E, Nouri A, Pagel C, Pimenta D, Popescu S, Priesemann V, Rasmussen AL, Reicher S, Ricciardi W, Rice K, Silver J, Smith TC, Wenham C, West R, Yamey G, Yates C, Ziauddeen H. Lancet. 2020 Dec 5;396(10265):1800-1801. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32350-3. Epub 2020 Nov 9. PMID: 33181080 Free PMC article. No abstract available.

Publication types Letter Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

6. Facial Masking for Covid-19. Rasmussen AL, Escandón K, Popescu SV. N Engl J Med. 2020 Nov 19;383(21):2092. doi: 10.1056/NEJMc2030886. Epub 2020 Oct 23. PMID: 33095523 No abstract available.

Publication types - Letter

Affiliations

1. Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY alr2105@columbia.edu.

2. Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia.

3. George Mason University, Arlington, VA.

7. Animal models for COVID-19.39)

Muñoz-Fontela C, Dowling WE, Funnell SGP, Gsell PS, Riveros-Balta AX, Albrecht RA, Andersen H, Baric RS, Carroll MW, Cavaleri M, Qin C, Crozier I, Dallmeier K, de Waal L, de Wit E, Delang L, Dohm E, Duprex WP, Falzarano D, Finch CL, Frieman MB, Graham BS, Gralinski LE, Guilfoyle K, Haagmans BL, Hamilton GA, Hartman AL, Herfst S, Kaptein SJF, Klimstra WB, Knezevic I, Krause PR, Kuhn JH, Le Grand R, Lewis MG, Liu WC, Maisonnasse P, McElroy AK, Munster V, Oreshkova N, Rasmussen AL, Rocha-Pereira J, Rockx B, Rodríguez E, Rogers TF, Salguero FJ, Schotsaert M, Stittelaar KJ, Thibaut HJ, Tseng CT, Vergara-Alert J, Beer M, Brasel T, Chan JFW, García-Sastre A, Neyts J, Perlman S, Reed DS, Richt JA, Roy CJ, Segalés J, Vasan SS, Henao-Restrepo AM, Barouch DH. Nature. 2020 Oct;586(7830):509-515. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2787-6. Epub 2020 Sep 23. PMID: 32967005 Free PMC article.

Abstract

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the aetiological agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), an emerging respiratory infection caused by the introduction of a novel coronavirus into humans late in 2019 (first detected in Hubei province, China). As of 18 September 2020, SARS-CoV-2 has spread to 215 countries, has infected more than 30 million people and has caused more than 950,000 deaths. As humans do not have pre-existing immunity to SARS-CoV-2, there is an urgent need to develop therapeutic agents and vaccines to mitigate the current pandemic and to prevent the re-emergence of COVID-19. In February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) assembled an international panel to develop animal models for COVID-19 to accelerate the testing of vaccines and therapeutic agents.

Here we summarize the findings to date and provides relevant information for preclinical testing of vaccine candidates and therapeutic agents for COVID-19

Publication types Review

Affiliations

  • 1. Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Hamburg, Germany.
  • 2. German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), Partner site Hamburg-Lübeck-Borstel-Riems, Hamburg, Germany.
  • 3. Centre for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Washington, DC, USA.
  • 4. National Infection Service, Public Health England, Salisbury, UK.
  • 5. World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
  • 6. Department of Microbiology, Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA.
  • 7. Bioqual Inc, Rockville, MD, USA.
  • 8. Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
  • 9. European Medicines Agency, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
  • 10. Institute of Laboratory Animal Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Peking, China.
  • 11. Clinical Monitoring Research Program Directorate, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, Frederick, MD, USA.
  • 12. KU Leuven Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Transplantation, Rega Institute, Laboratory of Virology and Chemotherapy, Leuven, Belgium.
  • 13. Viroclinics Xplore, Schaijk, The Netherlands.
  • 14. Laboratory of Virology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Hamilton, MT, USA.
  • 15. Animal Resources Program, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA.
  • 16. Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Center for Vaccine Research, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
  • 17. [:VIDO-Intervac]], University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
  • 18. Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Frederick, MD, USA.
  • 19. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
  • 20. Vaccine Research Center, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
  • 21. Department of Viroscience, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  • 22. Emulate Inc, Boston, MA, USA.
  • 23. Department of Immunology, Center for Vaccine Research, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
  • 24. Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, FDA, Silver Spring, MD, USA.
  • 25. Center for Immunology of Viral, Auto-immune, Hematological and Bacterial diseases (IMVA-HB/IDMIT), Inserm, CEA, Université Paris-Saclay, Paris, France.
  • 26. Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Center for Vaccine Research, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
  • 27. Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR), Wageningen University and Research, Lelystad, The Netherlands.
  • 28. Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia Mailman |School of Public Health, New York, NY, USA.
  • 29. Division of Infectious Diseases, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA.
  • 30. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA.
  • 31. Centre de Recerca en Sanitat Animal (CReSA, IRTA-UAB), Campus Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain.
  • 32. Institute of Diagnostic Virology, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany.
  • 33. Carol Yu Centre for Infection, Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
  • 34. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.
  • 35. College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA.
  • 36. Tulane National Primate Research Center, Covington, LA, USA.
  • 37. Departament de Sanitat i Anatomia Animals, Facultat de Veterinària, UAB, Bellaterra, Spain.
  • 38. Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, CSIRO, Geelong, Victoria, Australia.
  • 39. Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, UK.
  • 40. World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. henaorestrepoa@who.int.
  • 41. Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. dbarouch@bidmc.harvard.edu.

8. Making Sense of Mutation: What D614G Means for the COVID-19 Pandemic Remains Unclear.40)

Grubaugh ND, Hanage WP, Rasmussen AL. Cell. 2020 Aug 20;182(4):794-795. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.06.040. Epub 2020 Jul 3. PMID: 32697970 Free PMC article.

Abstract – In this issue of Cell, Korber et al. found that a SARS-CoV-2 variant in the spike protein D614G rapidly became dominant around the world. Although clinical and in vitro data suggest that D614G changes the virus phenotype, the impact of the mutation on transmission, disease, and vaccine and therapeutic development are largely unknown. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication types - Comment

9. A glimpse into the eye of the COVID-19 cytokine storm.41)

Kuppalli K, Rasmussen AL. EBioMedicine. 2020 May;55:102789. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2020.102789. Epub 2020 May 7. PMID: 32388462 Free PMC article.

Comment on Longitudinal characteristics of lymphocyte responses and cytokine profiles in the peripheral blood of SARS-CoV-2 infected patients.

10. Transcriptional Correlates of Tolerance and Lethality in Mice Predict Ebola Virus Disease Patient Outcomes.42)

Price A, Okumura A, Haddock E, Feldmann F, Meade-White K, Sharma P, Artami M, Lipkin WI, Threadgill DW, Feldmann H, Rasmussen AL. Cell Rep. 2020 Feb 11;30(6):1702-1713.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.01.026. PMID: 32049004 Free article.

Abstract – Host response to infection is a major determinant of disease severity in Ebola virus disease (EVD), but gene expression programs associated with outcome are poorly characterized. Collaborative Cross (CC) mice develop strain-dependent EVD phenotypes of differential severity, ranging from tolerance to lethality. We screen 10 CC lines and identify clinical, virologic, and transcriptomic features that distinguish tolerant from lethal outcomes.

  • Affiliations
  • 1. Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY 10032, USA.
  • 2. Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY 10032, USA; Laboratory of Virology, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Hamilton, MT 59840, USA.
  • 3. Laboratory of Virology, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Hamilton, MT 59840, USA.
  • 4. Rocky Mountain Veterinary Branch, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Hamilton, MT 59840, USA.
  • 5. Laboratory of Virology, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Hamilton, MT 59840, USA; Rocky Mountain Veterinary Branch, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Hamilton, MT 59840, USA.
  • 6. Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, College Station, TX 77843, USA; Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA.
  • 7. Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY 10032, USA. Electronic address: alr2105@cumc.columbia.edu.

Publication types

Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

11. Editorial: Host-Pathogen Interactions During Arboviral Infections. Goodman AG, Rasmussen AL. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2019 Mar 26;9:77. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2019.00077. eCollection 2019. PMID: 30972308 Free PMC article.43)

Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural Grant support R21 AI128103/AI/NIAID NIH HHS/United States U19 AI109761/AI/NIAID NIH HHS/United States

12. No effect of human papillomavirus vaccination on sexual debut of school children. Svarrer RO, Rasmussen AL, Lauszus FF, Hammer A. Dan Med J. 2019 Apr;66(4):A5540. PMID: 30910005 Free article. 44)

Abstract – Introduction; We aimed to describe sexual behaviour and knowledge about sexually transmitted infections (STI) among Danish adolescents stratified by gender and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination status.

Methods; We conducted a questionnaire study in Viborg Municipality, Denmark. A validated questionnaire was sent to all ninth-grade pupils without prior notice to either teachers or pupils.

Conclusions: Overall, no difference in the proportion of pupils with sexual debut or mean age at sexual debut was observed between HPV-vaccinated and unvaccinated adolescents in Denmark. However, HPV-vaccinated adolescents were more likely to stop using a condom despite their higher STI awareness.

Funding: Author Anne Hammer received funding from the Danish Cancer Society.

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