Discover more from Not a Doctor
Follow the experts
Twitter can be an amazing place for getting news as the pandemic unfurls — as long as you're following people who know their stuff.
Welcome to Not a Doctor, the only (free!) newsletter about health and science that encourages you to forget all about those New Year’s resolutions and log onto social media one more time, because life can be really tough and you’ve earned the break!
I’m Melody Schreiber, a journalist and the editor of What We Didn’t Expect (Nov. 2020). I’m not a doctor, or a scientist, or really an expert of any kind. I just like to ask questions (and ignore my own attempts at self-improvement).
🌡 🌡 🌡
One of my biggest New Year’s resolutions for 2020 was to go off Twitter, or at least use it considerably less.
On New Year’s Eve, I fired up the app, because everyone knows the key to a successful resolution is splurging on whatever will be off-limits soon.
And I saw this tweet:
From then on, I started following global health experts who were tracking this mystery pneumonia — at first quizzically, reading news reports here and there of an illness that Chinese officials said was not being transmitted from person to person, and then urgently, as that proved not to be the case.
My resolution was shattered, but in time so were many of the others — we hardly knew ye, “hang out with friends in person more.”
Although it can be time-consuming and anxiety-inducing, Twitter can also be a great way to follow experts in real-time as our knowledge of this virus changes rapidly.
But it’s important to follow vetted experts who actually know what they’re talking about.
Here are some of my favorite sources! You may notice they skew pretty American and Canadian, mostly because I’ve been following updates around North America much more closely of late.
🌡 🌡 🌡
Alexandra Phelan, of course, is an instructor at Georgetown and an essential source on the intersection of public health and the law. (See above!)
Marc Lipsitch, the director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard School of Public Health, is an infectious disease epidemiologist and microbiologist.
Dr. Nahid Bhadelia is an infectious disease physician, an associate professor, and director of the Special Pathogen Unit at the Boston Medical Center.
Maia Majumder is an instructor at Harvard Medical School.
Tara Smith is a professor and infectious disease epidemiologist. She’s amazing at answering questions!
Jeremy Konyndyk is a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development. He’s been very outspoken about the policies needed to curb this pandemic.
Tom Inglesby is the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. He’s given great recommendations for what we can do to fight the virus.
Caitlin Rivers is an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. She keeps a flow of information, especially comparing responses in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Isaac Bogoch is an infectious diseases physician and scientist at the University of Toronto. He’s a great source on what’s happening a little farther North.
Trevor Bedford is a scientist at Fred Hutch (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center). He’s been doing some excellent modeling on possible cases in Washington state and around the country.
Saskia Popescu is an infectious disease epidemiologist and editor of the George Mason University Pandora Report.
Nicholas Christakis is a Yale instructor and physician. He has a lot of easy-to-understand explanations of what’s happening and what to do.
Michael Mina is an assistant professor of epidemiology and Immunology, and a physician at Harvard School of Public Health and Medicine.
🌡 🌡 🌡
Who do you turn to for news during this epidemic? Leave a comment below, or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, if you know someone who might appreciate this newsletter, please feel free to forward it to them!