It’s been an odd couple of weeks for me. As a result, my Twitter-sphere has been busier than usual. While the vast majority of the feedback I’ve received has been polite, a small fraction has not. Strange men seem to believe I’m interested in their unsolicited opinions on my gender, sexuality, mental health, and appearance. Sometimes all at once. To clarify, I am not.

A cartoon of a person in side profile holding a phone. The light from the phone shines on their face.
A cartoon of a person in side profile holding a phone. The light from the phone shines on their face.
Photo by visuals on Unsplash

I have no intention of leaving Twitter. It connects me with research scientists and healthcare workers around the world. I’ve received media requests and other opportunities via Twitter. An international graduate student once DMed me asking how to access local mental health support. I learned about the LGBTQ+ STEM Conference via Twitter. …

On Friday 13th November, Elon Musk took four rapid antigen tests for COVID-19. When the results came back two were negative and two were positive. Musk was alarmed. He took to Twitter complaining “Something extremely bogus is going on.”. What’s bogus is that Space Karen didn’t read up on the test before tweeting to his millions of followers. Here’s why his results make perfect sense.

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In August, when the FDA approved the first COVID-19 rapid antigen test, they made the comparison to at-home pregnancy tests. They’re cheap, don’t need a lab, and give results in minutes. They’re also only accurate during a certain window of time. Rapid antigen tests work by detecting a protein found on the surface of the virus. The greater the number of virus particles in your body, the more likely you are to detect it. The number of virus particles peaks as symptoms appear. In the days, even hours, either side of peak viral load, the likelihood of a false negative increases. COVID-19 is most contagious 2 days before symptoms emerge. Thus, a rapid antigen test may well return a false negative when an infected person most needs to isolate. The White House’s over-reliance on rapid antigen testing may have contributed to their super-spreader events.[1] …

In March of this year, Prof. John Ioannidis speculated on the impact of COVID-19. Estimating a 1% fatality rate, he described a scenario in which the U.S. saw 10,000 deaths. At the time of writing, U.S. deaths stand at 238,246. Some people still doubt the severity of COVID-19. Prominent figures claim that the pandemic is no worse than ordinary flu. Survey data suggests 17% of the U.K. population oppose the public health measures enacted in September. By the end of the same month, COVID-19 had caused 57,347 U.K. deaths. …


Emma Bell, Ph.D.

Nonbinary + queer + #firstgen + depression/anxiety. Bioinformatics postdoc w/ @Decarvalho_lab . Ovarian cancer + epigenetics + machine learning. They/them.

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