Index of my Twitter threads
Scroll down for regularly updated links to my Twitter threads (plus some solo tweet).
.@ucl’s outgoing & incoming heads have issued a statement👇that stands out for its acknowledgement of how bad things are in London, its responsibility to the wider community, & of what needs to be done. 1/
In the summer, when @UniversitiesUK employers made their plans to call students back to campus to resume classroom teaching, daily new cases were running in the 100s, not the thousands. Throughout the month of July, they never exceeded 1,000👇. 1/
It will be possible to rectify the losses to school children & university students if we shift to online teaching this winter. But if we let the variant run out of control, it won’t be possible to resurrect the dead.
Since (see👇) SAGE expresses widely held view that secondary schools must stay closed in Jan to keep R<1, why is @GavinWilliamson fighting enormous battle to keep them open? Does he think he’s a better epidemiologist? Or does he want to let the virus rip?
This is a contender, against stiff competition, for the most idiotic coronavirus proposal. [“Private equity firm Blackstone wants to fill half-empty IQ student accomm property w tourists, claiming this will reduce mental health implications of isolation”]
Grim modelling just posted from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases, in a paper co-authored by SAGE member John Edmunds. Read the abstract👇. 1/2
Informative select committee testimony from scientists on BBC Parliament channel right now. Confidence level that variant causes rather than merely correlates with higher transmission now ‘high’ rather than ‘moderate’.
👇👀Study by U of Birmingham Prof of Biostatistics estimates that Innova rapid lateral flow antigen tests of 7,189 students in December managed to detect 2 who were Covid-infected while failing to detect another 60 who were Covid-infected. Sensitivity = 2/(2+60) = 3.2%.
2 important implications of what @MattHancock says here👇: 1st, since Tier 4 is essentially the same as the Nov lockdown, which didn’t stop cases from rising in Kent, Tier 4 won’t be sufficient to stop cases from rising in Kent, London & the SE either. 1/
It appears that there is no change in the government guidance [to universities] that applies to the new Tier 4 areas, in spite of the high level of community infection by a variant of the virus estimated to be up to 70% more easily transmitted. 1/
NYT piece co-authored by Biden CDC Director: “People Thought Covid-19 Was Relatively Harmless for Younger Adults. They Were Wrong: New research shows that July may have been the deadliest month for young adults in modern American history”
Granted standards have fallen as fast as VC salaries have risen. But we shouldn’t allow them fall so low that a need to undergo bullying & harassment training is compatible w remaining in VC post. I mean, seriously, have the decency to resign Alice Gast.
Excellent detailed thread, which indicates that the imposing & relaxing of restrictions are the main factor in driving levels of infections & that Christmas relaxation is likely to stretch hospitals to breaking point. 1/2
Sunday Times reports that the Chancellor recruited Oxford Prof Sunetra Gupta to try to convince the PM not to impose another lockdown in the autumn. She advocated letting the virus rip through population to achieve herd immunity in 3–6 months. 1/2
UK: How the government ignored SAGE advice to keep university teaching online this autumn👇. From detailed, damning Sunday Times reporting of the government’s misjudgments & wishful thinking in setting aside the advice of scientists time & again. 1/2
Read the article to which @IndependentSage member @ReicherStephen links, for vindication of his strong language [in condemnation of the UK government’s decision to force schools to remain open during the week before Christmas]. 1/2
Just as the left in the UK supports abolition of uni tuition fees repaid by income-contingent loans, even though this would mainly benefits the better off, the left in the US support large student loan write-off that would mainly benefit the better off👇.
The New York Times webpage is now leading with this damning long read article on the Astrazeneca/Oxford vaccine. It recounts a number of gratuitous-seeming blunders, which, sadly, are already serving as grist for anti-vaxxer conspiracy mills. 1/2
Keeping a campus open when the level of community infection is as high as in the US & the UK is akin to driving while drunk. Most drunk drivers don’t kill or harm. That doesn’t make them responsible. Just lucky. 2/2
Poor results👇from lateral flow tests, especially given that the standard PCR test benchmark against which lateral flow non-detection is measured itself involves a fairly high false negative rate among the asymptomatic in 1st days post-infection.
About a week ago, the total number of Covid deaths in the EU surpassed the US (once again)👇. It’s somewhat striking that the EU trend resembles f(x) = x³👇, with x = 0 inflection point occurring in the middle of the summer. US trend is more linear.
‘Teachers singled out hybrid programs requiring them to instruct in-person and remote students simultaneously as being particularly taxing. “It’s not sustainable. …That’s the hardest thing to come to grips with for myself and my colleagues.”’
Canberra, pop c 400,000 & home of the ANU, “is once again free of active coronavirus infections as the only patient in the territory has recovered”. It has recorded 115 cases total since start of pandemic (but none involving community transmission). 1/
Impressively argued & documented thread of relevance to those w interests in education, social science & statistics. Mainly about Covid-19 infection among school teachers but also includes data re uni lecturers.
.@LSEnews’s public health experts @MOSSIALOS @clarewenham & Laura Bear are among the co-authors of this @TheLancet piece👇which describes universities as a major hub of community transmission, which should move teaching online where possible.
Huge problem with exit testing to give students passports home for Christmas: will work only if students self-isolate (including no travel for classroom teaching) for a week before the test. Otherwise lots of false negatives.👇🤦♂️
.@UniversityLeeds spokesperson: “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, & dog patrols are there to serve as a visible source of reassurance to staff and students.” #Gaslighting [1/2]
UK govt finally advises to wear face coverings “in all HE learning environments”, even if 2m distanced.👇As this is also good public heath practice, @UniversitiesUK employers should now advise instructors & students to wear a facemask in the classroom.
Given the relatively high risk of another lockdown in Jan, Feb, or March, no university student should be required to return to campus after Christmas. They should all have the opportunity to take courses remotely, from their family (or other non-university) home.
Other colleagues & I concur with @LSEHealthPolicy’s @clarewenham
👇that it’s hard to understand why universities aren’t going online now, since why put teachers & students at risk if things are so bad we need another national lockdown? 1/3
On the one hand, there is the React study from the scientists at Imperial College London, who conclude that the second wave “has now reached a critical stage” and that “it is now time-critical to control the virus and turn R below one”. 1/ On the other hand, we have the herd immunity ravings of someone who falsly claimed to hold an honorary professorship at Imperial College London. Whom should we believe? It’s so difficult to choose. 2/2
Universities instructed to go online in France.[1/2] Compare this response [from Manchester Met U] in the other direction👇, in a region with high incidence of Covid-19 on this side of the channel. There is no public health justification for this move. [2/2]
If you’re opposed to the marketisation of UK higher education, to tuition fees & the hostile environment for migrants, then it follows that you’re opposed to overseas & EU as well as UK tuition fees. If you also think UK HE is underfunded, then your view is that…. 1/2
In Scotland, the government & university employers exercised so little foresight in bringing them back to campus that students may need to be granted “exemptions” from general travel restrictions so that they may return home for Christmas. 1/3
An important question👇. Here’s one (not the only) reason why they ignored sound public health advice: university senior managers & governing bodies are supposed to promote the interests of their university as a going concern, w/in the limits of the law, but… 1/
To justify his attempt to carry on with in person teaching amidst rising cases, the VC of @sheffielduni appeals to the wishes of Boris Johnson to keep universities open even during time of Very High Covid alert. (@sheffielducu) 1/
The University of Michigan, which has just locked its undergraduates down for 2 weeks & moved their teaching online for the rest of the semester, shows that large outbreaks don’t only happen at the beginning of term & then tail off for the remainder. Term began 31 August. 1/
‘For public institutions [in the US], the proportion of state residents who voted for Donald Trump was the most powerful predictor of whether “in-person” was announced. …decision-making was completely unrelated to cumulative infection and related mortality rates.’
🚨UK longitudinal study of 201 individuals with #LongCovid reveals a high proportion are relatively young & without pre-existing health conditions. Also reveals “almost 70%…have impairment in one or more organs four months after initial symptoms”. 1/4
Unclear whether there are more than 11 ‘households’ in Homerton College Cambridge’s West House. Whether or not there are, this shows what a nonsense separate household bubbles are in a hall of residence.
🚨“you’re in that very, very fast upward swing of the epidemic, and a day’s delay matters, a week’s delay really matters… We saw that in March/April… The red lights are flashing…”. SAGE member @JeremyFarrar case for circuit breaker starting NOW. 1/2
Why we’re screwed: Our PM’s voracious appetite for time discounting, followed by the tendency for the future to become the present. Lockdown in late not early March. Circuit break will come too late if at all. 31 December Brexit deadline lies far over his time horizon rainbow.
According to the recently released SAGE papers👇, keeping universities open plays a greater role in spreading Covid-19 infection — ~0.3 (0.2–0.5) increase in R — than any other activity, apart from keeping secondary schools open — ~0.35 (0.2–0.5). 1/
Epidemiologist compares going to gym to playing Russian roulette: “most of the time, when you put the gun to your head and pull the trigger, nothing happens. But there’s a risk that something really awful will happen, like it seemed to have here.” 1/2
Jaw-dropping @BBCRadio4 interview w VC of University of Manchester: surprised by rapidity of outbreaks!; claims the main problem was failure to sufficiently communicate to students the need to follow guidelines!
Please read story below & call on your university management to LAUNCH THE SURVEY described below if they refuse to always notify instructor & students that someone with whom they’ve shared a classroom for a prolonged period while potentially infectious has tested positive. 1/
A powerful letter, both intellectually and emotionally. I hope everyone in UK higher education who is making decisions regarding the case for pressing on with in person teaching takes a few moments to read this.
A serious & legitimate question👇. If there are no takers, then @UniversitiesUK leaders are acting in bad faith in claiming that F2F teaching w 2m distance & masks is safe & in their refusal to notify & test all who have shared a classroom w someone who tests positive. [Thread]
Interesting that @uniofeastanglia doesn’t defend their £252 2-week self-isolation meal plan (reduced to £168 after protest) by claiming that £252 was at cost for them. So we can assume that they were profiting, in which case ‘disaster capitalism’ is accurate.
“…we quickly undertook a thorough cleaning of all touchpoints throughout the centre and have continued to run an enhanced cleaning schedule until then. …As such the centre remains open to the public.” Very unlikely that this spread via touching things. 1/
Please sign & RT this petition calling for public release of the report into the dismissal of @ucu-nominated #USS director Jane Hutton & disclosure of the legal costs associated with the prior investigation👇.
Insight into why student halls of residence are being locked down so hard in Manchester. Local authorities elsewhere will have similar motivation to contain wider community spread in this manner, in order to avoid more general lockdown measures.
Latest data👇from @timspector’s KCL symptom app study indicate university teachers in age group at highest risk of #LongCovid: greater than both 10% risk to whole population of symptoms for 1 month & 1.5%-2.0% general risk of symptoms for >3 months.
Sat 26 Sept superspreader White House Amy Coney Barrett celebration shows what happens when one tries too hard to return to normal during time of pandemic. No masks. Hugs & handshakes. Indoor reception as well as outdoor event with no social distancing. 1/9
My Uehiro Lectures in Practical Ethics have now been rescheduled on Zoom for the first 3 Tuesdays in November: the 3rd, 10th, 17th. All at 3.30–5.15 pm London time. General title: “How to pool risks across generations: the case for collective pensions” 1/5
Boris Johnson: “I want to pay a particular tribute to the students who are experiencing a first term back at university unlike anything they could have imagined.” If he didn’t foresee this, he’s incompetent. If he DID foresee, he was indifferent to the misery he anticipated.
Does anyone know the outcome of Motion 14, calling for “escalating @ucu’s approach to sustained, effective industrial action” in order “to overturn the HE sector”, because 22 days “was not enough to win such an extensive dispute”?
Significant intevention from 5 Leeds MPs, calling for: (1) Shifting all @UniversityLeeds teaching online, except that which can be delivered only in person, as appropriate response to elevated local rate of infection. (2) Dashboard (as in the US). 1/
Remarkable that, with the possible exception of @Cambridge_Uni 👇, no @UniversitiesUK employer has provided an account of what they’ve done to ensure that it’s unlikely that their own students will suffer lockdown in halls of residence this term. 1/2
If the well-being of students was truly @UniversitiesUK employers’ “1st priority”👇, they wouldn’t have re-opened halls of residence to nearly full capacity, while also failing to provide the frequent testing of all needed to prevent outbreaks & lockdowns.
This incredible @UofGlasgow thread makes clear what a miserable situation they’ve left their students in, after calling them back to the city for in person teaching, & the pressure they’re under to set things right. 1/
I’m singling out this tweet [on UK universities filling halls of residence to nearly full capacity] from this good thread by @jim_dickinson, which I hope all @UniversitiesUK senior managers will take a few moments to read. 1/
BBC 7:04 am @BBCr4today bulletin: “1700 students at Manchester Metropolitan University have been instructed not to leave their halls of residence for two weeks because of an outbreak of coronavirus. More than 120 students have tested positive.” 1/2
.@USSEmployers actuary @aon notes that #USS modelling “largely showed that there was no merit in de-risking the scheme while it remained open” & points to inconsistency w past practice of #USS’s response.🔥 1/
Mind-boggling response from the official @UniversityLeeds account to parent of a student, in which they casually reveal their failure to put in place measures that will make effective monitoring of the extent of infections among their students possible.
.@BBCRadio4 8:35 am news bulletin: “The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told us he cannot rule out banning students from returning home at Christmas if there are big outbreaks at universities. 124 students at Glasgow University have tested positive.”
The spreadsheet linked to this excellent new brief by @aechitty1 contains relatively conservative (i.e., low) estimates of the numbers of students who will be asymptomatic & infectious on arrival to university. 1/
Chris Whitty: “If I as an individual increase my risk, I increase the risk to everybody around me and then everyone who is a contact of theirs…. So you cannot, in an epidemic, just take your own risk. Unfortunately, you’re taking a risk on behalf of everybody else.”
.@BristolUniversi’s policy is scientifically illiterate. Should be the other way around: masks even if one can maintain 2m distance, to protect against aerosol transmission. Visors in addition, to protect against droplets if one can’t maintain 2m distancing. (@Bristol_UCU)🤦♂️1/2
Matt Hancock on @BBCr4today: “The vast majority of transmissions happen in social settings.” Re universities: “The challenge w/ universites going back is ensuring that the students also follow the social distancing rules when they’re off campus.”
A resident’s reaction to a @UniversitiesUK employer’s failure to enforce legal social distancing requirements in their halls of residence👇. This employer has lost standing to force their instructors to teach in person, not online.
VC Eastwood describes assistant Charlotte’s jumping up & opening window whenever he walks past as “a really good example of the constant adjustments we will need to make to ensure that this remains a safe environment.” We, or just she? How about wearing a mask, VC?
In a welcome & encouraging result for @ucu, members have elected @justinemercer11 their VP. She had a strong plurality of 1st preference votes👇& picked up more 2nd pref votes than the other candidates in the 2nd & 3rd rounds. 1/
60 deaths from US campus cases SO FAR — “mostly of college staff members”. Simple non-rhetorical question for @UniversitiesUK employers: How many deaths among your staff do you expect & how many do you regard as acceptable?
Click here and read upwards for comments on a thread by Sam Marsh on how Metric A is USS’s new Test 1.
Glaring problem w #USS’s ‘Risk Metric B’, according to which gap between current value of assets & cost of purchasing a low-risk gilts-weighted ‘self-sufficiency’ portfolio must be small enough that universities can afford to bridge it & purchase such a portfolio. 1/
On@BBCr4today Health Sec @MattHancock chastises school for trying to test all students, making depressingly clear that the NHS lacks capacity for the sort of asymptomatic testing which is necessary👇to prevent widespread outbreaks in universities. 1/2
.@UniversitiesUK senior managers: please read the numerous quotations from student union officers, in discussion with @jim_dickinson, which reveal the lack of realism of plans to contain widespread student outbreaks via test, trace & isolate. 1/
.@ucu members, when you have time, please read this detailed, well-informed, well-judged account👇of why the 22 days of strikes were called & achieved so little & how to get the union back on course. By @dyfrig @AdamOzanne & John Kelly. Excerpt👇.
This👇👀😮is the most extraordinary passage in the #USS consultation document. Implies that #USS is prepared to destroy the entire UK HE sector to ensure that past DB pension promises are paid in full. (“Available risk capacity” = £65bn #USS could bleed dry from universities.)
Had they all been wearing masks, there would have been fairly low risk of transmission among people in this outdoor crowd in Washington Sq. near NYU. Even w/o masks, this won’t give rise to ‘superspreader’ event. Just infection of those in close contact. 1/
#USS: If @USSEmployers’s agree to measures to back the covenent, contributions must rise from the current 30.7% to 40% to retain existing benefits. If they don’t agree to these measures, contributions must rise to 68%. [Thread follows.]
.@UniversitiesUK & @AlistairJarvis, do you agree w the Times letter you highlight that the risk of Covid-19 “has always been minuscule for young people”, bearing in mind that death isn’t the only risk? Are your plans for re-opening based on the assumption of minuscule risk? 1/
I agree with @jim_dickinson that there’s a lot to learn from analysis of what has happened in the US. 1/ I hope the contrasting attitude👇of Nottingham @registrarism Paul Greatrix is not representative of the attitude of UK HE senior managers more generally. 2/
FAQ’s👇on Covid-19 aerosol transmission & related issues (masks, ventilation, significance of 2m, etc.), jointly authored by 7 aerosol experts. An excellent and useful resource, worthy of close attention.
Three non-rhetorical question for UK university leaders: How many severe life-changing illnesses, such as @felicitycallard’s 👇, do you deem an acceptable price for members of your staff to pay as the cost of resuming teaching in person? 1/
Astonishing that some who are re-opening universities *still* believe that face masks are unnecessary in enclosed spaces people share for a prolonged period, so long as everyone is 2m apart. See what happened in this bus when nobody was wearing a mask.
UK university leaders *please* take a couple minutes to read this editorial in the @bmj_latest re lessons to be learned from the US, one of whose co-authors (@RWalensky) is co-author of the influential Yale-Harvard study on testing. Excerpt on testing👇. [Short thread follows.]
Huge credit to @Illinois_Alma for developing & rolling out frequent saliva-based testing of all, w quick turn-around & automated access to campus tied to negative result👇. It’s not just mega-$$$ endowed unis that are able to make in person teaching safe.
Handwriting on the wall for larger outbreaks when term starts in October: “‘Unsettling’ rise in coronavirus cases” in August. “The director for public health says the 18–29 age group is driving the rise”.
🚨UK university staff & students: make sure to insist that your employer gathers & publishes accurate & up-to-date data on the rate of Covid-19 infection among students & staff. See this statement👇by UCU President @zenscara to @IndependentSAGE 👇. 1/4
Jaw-dropping account of failure U of Iowa to meet duty of care to incoming student who tested positive. No assistance in moving to quarantine room, which was filthy & ant-infested. Served cold rice & water for food. Fled to a hotel, at cost of $700.
If university employers fail to provide the frequent testing of all students that’s necessary to prevent extensive outbreaks, then *STUDENTS* will hold them to accounts. This from the Notre Dame student newspaper👇. 1/
The opening line👇of this excellent, must-read @USSBriefs post👇caught my attention. @ucl has consistently stood out among @UniversitiesUK employers in their recognition of the seriousness of the risks arising from Covid-19. 1/
In 1996 #USS was invested & valued along lines that @ucu defended in👇motion: (1) portfolio heavily weighted towards equities (c. 80%) & property (c. 10%) rather than gilts (c. 10%), (2) valuation based on ‘best estimate’ of return on assets. 1/
Telling excerpt👇from a compelling piece by a Prof & Assoc Dean for Research at Georgia Tech. To those who’d claim this doesn’t apply to the UK because our rate of infection is lower than US: see spikes in Australia & Israel from low infection baselines.
Click and read upwards for comments on a misleading comparision of infection-fatality rate for Covid 19 with fatality rates for accidents.
Contrary to “the dominant belief of [US] college administrators”, the top choice of incoming students is to be taught online from home👇. Survey of 927 incoming & 905 returning students. 3% margin of error. 1/
“…colleges and universities have followed a poorly calibrated consumer-knows-best approach that has led them to make a serious mistake”. From the opening of an excellent piece by @dan_star (aka @duecaution) in today’s IHE 👇.
“Residents tend to view the beginning of any academic year with a degree of trepidation. However, this year, it’s more than trepidation. For some it is dread. For others, especially if they are elderly or vulnerable, or have family who fall into those categories, it is fear.” 1/
Since testing is limited to those with symptoms (see blue👇), it’s simply false for @UniofOxford to claim that “any new case of COVID-19 at the University will be identified, & action taken to prevent transmission, at the earliest possible moment”. 1/
👀This👇from a blistering thread by @Wonkhe’s @jim_dickinson about a slick, creepy, ill-judged video @UniversitiesUK has posted on Youtube, urging students to overcome their fears & show up in September. 1/
🚨1 in 5 ages 18–34 with no underlying health conditions had not returned to usual health 2–3 weeks after testing positive for Covid-19. CDC random sample of mainly young adults who had tested positive across 14 US academic health care systems. 1/
Strongly agree w @DrJoGrady re need for greater & more inclusive consultation of @ucu members on industrial action, but I have doubts re two main claims in her email to members👇re problem w timing of last strike ballot & proposal to aggregate next one. 1/
Melbourne going into 6 wks of lockdown: Curfew 8pm-5am. Outside for max 1 hr of exercise, <5 km from home. Unis & schools to go online. Masks outside home compulsory. “Where you slept last night is where you’ll need to stay for the next six weeks.”
🚨If university students aren’t tested every 2–3 days, “colleges are very likely to fall prey to outbreaks that will place vulnerable people on campus & in the surrounding community at risk for serious illness and death.” 1/
How exactly does a paltry 30% turnout on an electronic ballot — which falls far short of the required 50% postal ballot turnout to authorise industrial action — strengthen the hands of the negotiators? “I am delighted” comes across as either delusional or dishonest.
Read this fascinating thread on evidence of risk of infection on train👇. It reads more like Hercule Poirot deducing cause of death on the Orient Express than what one might expect from an epidemiologist.
🚨🗳️🚨DON’T throw away that fat @ucu envelope containing your ballot for VP(HE). This is a crucial post, whose occupant will chair HEC from Sept 2020 to May 2022. VP(HE) also has the right to chair negotiation teams for #USS & pay & equalities. 1/
🚨Data re long-term Covid effects is now emerging. Sydney study reveals that “at least 20 per cent” of a representative sample of “randomly selected participants who had not been hospitalised reported symptoms three months after clearing the virus”. 1/
Fordham English Professor @glenntwo has posted an excellent email to students👇, explaining his reasons for opting to teach his course entirely online. In striking contrast to many others, Fordham faculty may choose whether to teach online or mask-to-mask.
Simple, sensible government advice👇for how an instructor may be heard in a socially distanced classroom, without having to speak loudly in a manner that releases thousands of oral fluid droplets per second: use a microphone. 1/
Answer to @Dennis_Leech’s question👇: There’s no way to tell from his graph whether the scheme is in deficit, since it doesn’t tell us whether contributions plus returns on their investment are sufficient to cover the DB promises with which these contributions are associated. 1/
We need some sense of the reduction in transmission to assess claims that it’s safe to re-open indoor spaces such as university classrooms so long as people are wearing this or that mask. Not enough to say: Just wear a mask, and teach indoors!
Insist on transparency from your university employer re risks to which they’re exposing members of their community. Reported refusal of @BU_Tweets to inform grad student housing residents of quarantining in their midst is appalling.
Data from @timspector’s KCL COVID-19 Symptom Study app indicates a rise in new cases👇. They also estimate, w 95% confidence, that R is between 1.0 & 1.3 in England (link👇). Best estimate of R = 1.1. 1/
On assumptions of the current 2018 valuation, #USS deficit=£20.2bn as of 30 June 2020 (73% funded), up from £3.6bn as of 31 Mar 2018 valuation date. Contributions for future pensions promises=40.1% of salaries, compared w 28.7% as of 31 Mar 2018. 1/3
🚨🚨🚨Calling UK academics: I’m gathering information about the option to conduct one’s small group teaching online. Please click link to this public FB post👇to see what the policies are at various universities & to add information about your own.
Pittsburgh got daily new Covid infections down to zero in mid-June. Reopened. Daily infections now 200. Rise contact-traced to bars & restaurants. Median age of newly infected = 29, many asymptomatic.
Of relevance👇to the view that the risks from Covid 19 are acceptably low for most of working age because (1) the infection/fatality rate is very low & (2) such a high percentage of those infected never experience any symptoms. 1/
👇implies facemasks in university & high school classrooms. I’d therefore welcome a call from @IndependentSage on the government & university employers to take steps now to procure sufficient facemasks for September re-openings. 1/
With lockdown & quarantine much more severe than the UK, Israel got new daily infections down to 20, much lower than the UK has ever experienced. Re-opened in May & things have now spiralled out of control👇. 1/
“Sweden suffered a vastly higher death rate while failing to collect on the expected economic gains.” x12 more deaths per capita than Norway, x6 more than Denmark. Central bank projected fall in GDP: NOR -3.9%; DNK -4.1%; SWE -4.5%. See also👇. 1/3
“we’re almost entering a Kafkaesque alternative reality where the government set the rules, we follow them, they don’t like the results and they then deny setting the rules and blame the people that were trying to do their best” 1/
Is anyone aware of any @UniversitiesUK employer that will be testing all students with the 2–3 day frequency that this paper👇says is necessary for safe re-opening of campuses? Or who has explained why this isn’t necessary? Please read thread.
Serious illness & death from Covid-19 among the young with no underlying health conditions: “As more data emerges, serious cases of younger, healthy people … are becoming less of an anomaly, doctors said.”
SWP claim it’s because of their “revolutionary” politics that they’re so reviled. “Red baiting”! No. Not that. Various other things, including how fucking obnoxious & annoying they are in the way they intrude on other causes & institutions. Note who ‘likes’ this post👇.
Air travel & Covid-19: “March 2 flight from the U.K. to Vietnam suggested that one passenger transmitted the virus to as many as 14 others and a crew member. Twelve of these passengers were sitting close to the suspected first case” 1/
.@michelledonelan (cc @EmmaHardyMP @Keir_Starmer) why has the government eliminated instruction to HE employers to “take account of the need to avoid disadvantaging” “students or staff … more likely to be at risk”? Website 29 June👇. 1/
🚨#USS members @USSEmployers, click link to former Pensions Minister @rosaltmann’s discussion of the Lords’ amendment regarding open DB schemes, for which she endorses an approach to investment & sustainability much along lines that @ucu & @FirstActuarial have been advocating.
Your @UniversitiesUK employer has a legal duty to assess the risks of resuming teaching in person. Make sure yours has assessed the risks of airborne (aerosol) Covid-19 transmission in the *specific* classrooms in which you’re assigned to teach. 1/7
Good thread on risks associated with re-opening uni halls of residence. As @markmleach has done before, it rightly highlights issue of spread beyond university community. These are ‘negative externalities’ that go unmentioned in most discussions among uni members.
.@MattHancock, would you please explain why the age 70 threshold for ‘clinical vulnerability’ listed here👇… 1/ …has not yet been lowered to age 50, to bring it in line with the following statement you made in @10DowningStreet on 18 June?… 2/
Something for university leaders throughout England to consider, as they assess the risks of re-opening in September: if universities across the nation were to resume in-person teaching today, we can expect that c. 1,800 students would be Covid-19 infected👇. 1/8
Every @ucu member will be charged £15. 120,000 members x £15 = £1,800,000! So the @UCULeft-controlled HEC blew a huge hole in union finances, by calling members out on 22 days of strikes w/o figuring out how to pay for them. Recklessly irresponsible. 1/
Fascinating & disconcerting long read NYT piece on how the inconvenience of the now widely-accepted truth of widespread symptomless Covid-19 spreading led public health & government officials to deny & downplay this possibility for months. 1/
👀🚨🙁After occupying the red “need to take action” basement for months, the UK has been upgraded to yellow “nearly there” in beating Covid-19👇. Watch this space closely in coming weeks to see whether we sink back into the red, with lockdown easing. 1/
Since they’ll overwise be unable to fund promised strike pay, @ucu is taking the “extraordinary measure” of assessing each member a £15 “levy”, via direct bank account debit. This in spite of the fact that “union has never levied members before”.👇 1/
.@ErinBromage: “emerging data about the infection rate for those under 50 years old is revealing that the 20- to 40-year-old segment of our population may in fact be the force driving this pandemic.” University leaders please take note of his conclusion👇.
Good news amidst coronavirus gloom: UK state pension to which all current & future pensioners are entitled (NB that includes the young & future generations) is forecast to rise by 18% in 2022👀😍, under the triple lock, which the Tories pledged to retain in their manifesto. 1/
If, as evidence suggests, the gradual decline in # of infections in the UK is a reflection of the seasonality of the virus, then it’s a big mistake to reduce the level of ‘alert’ from 4 to 3 & lower our guard. Excellent piece on seasonality👇.
Re👇at a Zoom meeting last night w @Keir_Starmer & @Georgia_Gould
I asked re testing & contact tracing Camden Council might be able to provide to help uni campuses in the constituency re-open in Sept. Answer not reassuring. Local authorities marginalised. [1/]
🚨👀👇On assumptions of the current 2018 valuation, #USS deficit=£15.2bn as of 30 Apr 2020 (79% funded), up from £3.6bn as of 31 Mar 2018 valuation date. Contributions for future pensions promises=36.7% of salaries, compared w 28.7% as of 31 Mar 2018. 1/6
Something further to weigh in the risk assessment of online v in person teaching. On the one hand, Zoom is somewhat annoying. On the other hand👇, evidence that coronavirus infects, replicates inside of, and damages the brain, in a manner hard to treat.😱
.@Sir_David_King — former Chief Scientific Advisor to the PM (2000–08) & current chair of @IndependentSage — spells out the government’s imprudence in lifting lockdown before adequate testing & contact tracing is in place (@BBCNewsnight interview 10 June)👇. 1/3
Highly instructive @BBCr4today interview with Michael Baker👇, Professor of Public Heath, Otago, & govt advisor & an architect of New Zealand’s approach, on how they managed to eliminate the virus. 1/9
Of great significance for university shielding policies: even taking health conditions into account “the biggest influence on a person’s COVID-19 risk is age. The risk from age is actually an extraordinarily accelerating one (log-linear…).” 1/
Further evidence of how difficult it will be to render classrooms Covid-safe: someone becomes infected simply as the result of sitting in the same seat that a pre-symptomic individual sat in several hours earlier.
Six Harvard graduate schools will be entirely online in the autumn, including their Law School, Kennedy School of Government, and, perhaps significantly, given the wording of Harvard’s statement👇, their School of Public Health. 1/
Thanks @DrJoGrady for the 5 Tests re Covid-safe return to campus the union has posted. The general principles seem well-formulated. Will the union also be publishing more detailed guidance re specific measures needed to satisfy Test 4 in particular, re mitigation of Covid risks?
😱😱😱Baldness a perfect predictor of severity of Covid-19 infection: “79 per cent of the men suffering with Covid-19 in three Madrid hospitals were bald [against] background rate of baldness…between 31–53 per cent.”
“The likelihood that approximately 40% to 45% of those infected with SARS-CoV-2 will remain asymptomatic suggests that the virus might have greater potential than previously estimated to spread silently and deeply through human populations.” 1/
Phased full re-opening of schools in Israel in 1st half of May followed by a “superspreader” event in a high school & the closure of a number of schools with infections. 9 closed yesterday. c. 7k quarantines associated w school infections. 1/
Imperial’s Neil Ferguson: UK probably to remain at current 8k daily infection level till Sept & implies risk of worsening thereafter, if lockdown eased further when we “move into the time of year when respiratory viruses tend to transmit slightly better”.
🚨Everyone in UK higher ed needs to memorise the red-underlined sentence👇in this joint @UCEA1 & @ucu statement of ‘Principles for working safely on campus during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic’. These are MINIMUM standards to achieve. 1/
According to aHR (adjusted hazard ratio) column in Table A2 of PHE’s just-released “Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19”👇, age is a MUCH bigger risk of death factor than ethnicity, gender, or deprivation quintile among working age people. [1/2]
The UK government’s response to concerns regarding airborne Covid-19 transmission in courtrooms is alarming👇. It indicates that they’re ignoring an increasing body of evidence of such transmission. 1/10
Oxford epidemiology prof David Hunter say world divides into those that suppresed virus to near extinction — “South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and perhaps China” — & those such as the UK that will face large #’s of infection long term. 1/
An extraordinary data-rich, detailed & frightening 6k word piece on the financial exposure of UK universities to coronavirus losses👇. See what’s in store for yours under a plausible scenario. By @xtophercook (formerly policy editor for @BBCNewsnight).
Last night I used my ration of free Times articles to read this piece & I’d highly recommend it to others. I completely agree with @anandMenon1's “Daming on the delays in imposing lockdown”. See his tweets below for some key points.
Early local low-tech contact tracing key to Japan’s success in controlling spread of Covid-19 — now below 50 new daily infections, compared to UK c. 3k new daily infections. Note also UK’s contrasting lack of initiative on testing.👇 1/
.@UniofOxford prof Deborah Cameron notes👇a key respect in which small group teaching is a greater Covid risk than large lectures, casting doubt on @Cambridge_Uni’s moving large lectures online while keeping small group teaching in person. (@AlistairJarvis @michelledonelan) 1/
Communication from @ucu to members regarding branch consultations on Four Fights & #USS is utterly shambolic. Email to members from GS @DrJoGrady to announce this arrives in our inboxes on a Saturday evening. 1/
New Edinburgh study appears to imply that FFP2 (N95) face masks worn by all in a classroom would be very effective at reducing the risk of Covid-19 infection. It appears that surgical mask & typical handmade cloth masks would be much less effective. 1/
🚨🚨🚨@ucu is now consulting w branches on whether to launch a new industrial action ballot over #USS by the end of June, with the ballot closing in September, so it will be possible to resume industrial action at the start of the autumn term. 1/
This👇on coronavirus transmission in buses & other confined spaces, which I posted yesterday, has recently become my most ‘viral’ tweet, viewed 262,000 times. 2nd-5th most viral tweets in thread below. 1/
The high number of deaths of London bus drivers is of a piece with other evidence that prolonged exposure in enclosed spaces to someone infected w/ coronavirus is unsafe. 2 metre social distancing won’t make buses, the tube, classrooms, or shared offices safe. 1/10
I fully agree👇. The “crappy” revolutionary student politics of @ucu’s NEC — their unrealistic demands, misrepresentation of fact & disastrous call for 22 days of strikes — have undermined the effectiveness of the union when we most need one.
A central bank is like an academic who can award marks, with no upper numerical limit, to her students. She doesn’t need to borrow from or tax others to acquire these marks. She simply issues them. Her only worry is grade inflation. (@alexxdouglas) 1/
Hard not to conclude, from 2 US CDC articles, that extended periods of time in classrooms, seminar rooms & lecture theatres will remain unsafe, absent an effective vaccination or treatment (so probably throughout 2020–21). 1st: 1/
.@ucu NEC Operation Make GS @DrJoGrady a Laughing Stock: direct her to write PM letter calling for massive increase in HE funding, far beyond Covid losses, paid via cancellation of Trident & ring-fenced 2%+ increases in income tax of those earning £30k+.🤦♂️
The plea for more govt funding involves VC public admission that overseas fees pay for more than the cost of teaching them. They also cross-subsidise research. How will OS students receive such admission that UK higher ed treats them as cash cows? 2/
A genuine act of solidarity: permanent faculty agreeing to fund the petitioned👇measures for NTT faculty & graduate students via pay reductions &/or furloughing of permanent faculty, where unrestricted endowments are insufficient to fund this. 1/
Fascinating blog post👇by UCU HEC member @drmcarley, which sheds light on HEC’s recent decision, which puzzled many, to reject a resolution ‘To direct the General Secretary to fund data science modelling of student number controls mechanisms for UK HE’. 1/
In a book published in 1995, David Blake says 1/60th final salary = 1/80th final salary plus lump sum👇. Assuming lump sum is 3x pension, this implies that £9 of lump sum converts to £1 of pension income. Was it so inexpensive to convert lump sum to pension back then? 1/
A sensible proposal from the former universities secretary to help stem the huge anticipated drop in enrolment of overeas students: four-year post-study work visa & path to UK citizenship. #HospitableEnvironment
🚨🚨🚨Call to Fellows of Oxford & Cambridge Colleges to make sure your institution supports permanent #USS rule change requiring Trustee consent to withdraw from scheme, in consultation👇that closes on 1 May. (Tagging @OxfordUCU & @CambridgeUCU) 1/
This tweet rests on a misunderstanding of the politics👇. 1/ So-called ‘low skilled workers’ supported the Tories & Brexit. And now Priti Patel is delivering the restrictions on competition for their jobs by migrants that they favoured. 2/2
In response to #USS’s invitation to members to submit questions for them to answer in a video on the 2020 valuation on Thursday, I’ve submitted 2 questions👇, which identify problems w their measures of short-term & long-term risk. 1/
Question to @RedActuary &@Derek_Benstead: how robust to pessimistic adjustment of assumptions in light of current event is your projection that #USS’s DB scheme will be cashflow positive for 50 years at 26% ‘no detriment’ contribution level? 1/
.@ucu branches & members are calling for a suspension or staggering of pay deductions for days on strike, on grounds that members are now working overtime & otherwise going above & beyond the call of duty to address the coronavirus crisis. E.g.👇 1/
#USS has released a 10 March webinar discussion w @USSEmployers, in light of which I predict PwC will soon downgrade employer covenant from “strong” to “tending to strong”, which will significantly increase the cost of providing DB pensions. 1/
As of 12 March, #USS was running a £12.1 bn deficit, based on a ‘gilts-plus’ monitoring of the assumptions of the 31 March 2018 valuation. Funding level = 85% (assets/technical provisions liabities). 1/
The 31 Mar valuation will be very challenging for #USS, but in drawing on just 2 pensions experts — @JohnRalfe1 & Bernard Casey — @jgro_the’s piece lacks balance, as these 2 have similar perspectives, which are pro-IDC & highly sceptical of DB. 1/
Click and read upwards for comments on decline in overseas enrolment: £6k for a year of fulltime online is on a par with what the Open University charges, which is £3k for a year of part time for a 6 year degree:
Click and read upwards for comments on the regulatory hardening of the DB promise: But, according to an impeccable source, that DB promise has hardened significantly over the past 40 years:
In light of impending coronavirus global recession/depression, expected returns on Local Govt Pension Scheme portfolios downgraded to 4.9% p.a. for next 10–15 years, as against historical 8% p.a. returns. 1/
#USS ticks all 3 “damage already done” boxes:
✔️March 2020 valuation
✔️Underhedged interest rates
✔️Withdrawal of Trinity College placed covenant on “negative watch” even before coronavirus fears of drop in overseas tuition fee income
🚨🚨🚨The Thermidorian reaction against @ucu’s HEC: watch as @HannahQuirk1 politely eviscerates @UcuLeft HEC vice chair @JomcneillUCU for her ill-judged attack on the integrity of Quirk’s @KCL_UCU branch. Click👇read upwards.👏👏👏 1/9
.@ucu JNC negotiator @Sam_Marsh101 characterises Galvin’s communication as a “scare email to VCs”. If, however, JosephineCumbo’s quotations are representative, Sam’s characterisation is pretty clearly inaccurate & misleading. 2/
Comments here and elsewhere on a thread on the extent to which CDC involves cross-subsidy by different cohorts, even in a scheme closed to future accrual.
.@ucu strike ballot scheduled for 17 March to 28 April “postponed due to Covid-19”. “HEC has set a target to resume the reballots no later than the end of June”. But June is forecast to be a hellish month at the peak of the epidemic. 1/
.@ucu’s NEC — total membership 61 — met face to face on Friday, where they passed a motion calling for “the immediate closure of all colleges and universities” in order to put an end to face to face interaction. Do as we say and not as we do.
We learn from Twitter that yesterday @ucu’s NEC passed a motion (proposed by @UCULeft’s Carlo Morelli) calling for “the immediate halting of teaching” in response to coronavirus. This encompasses *ALL* teaching, including ONLINE. Why? Beggars belief.
If all active #USS members [except for at least one remaining active member] simultaneously left the scheme, our employers would become liable to pay Sec 75 debt, which was c. £50bn as of Mar 2018 valuation. This would bankrupt universities & many of us would lose our jobs. So No.
I strongly recommend this piece by @alexxdouglas in today’s THE: “If the UCU strike achieves its aims, we’ll be worse off”. It’s well argued & evidence-based. The points he makes merit a response, beyond the inevitable, knee jerk ad hominem abuse.
If the pay of future generations is *higher* than that of the pay of previous generations, that also creates intergenerational inequality. We have intergenerational equality only when the pay of all generations is equal.
As it happens, I’m in pretty much complete agreement w/ @Sam_Marsh101's criticisms of #USS’s latest valuation methodology. Crucially, I agree that #USS repeats its ‘large & demonstrable mistake’ in its old wine in new wineskin version of Test 1. 1/
Given the dramatic falls in stock prices & bond yields arising from a coronavirus that won’t go away between now & the 31 March valuation date, it shouldn’t be a matter of controversy that no detriment 8% member contributions (or ‘compromise’ 8.4%) is now a pipe dream. 1/
I once calculated that Test 1 would involving de-risking to c. 23% growth assets in 20 yrs time. That seemed way too low. So I figured I must have got something wrong. 1/ But in their just-released valuation document, #USS publicly confirms for the first time, how much de-risking Test 1 would involve & the answer is down to 20% growth assets. 2/2
Thread: #USS’s indicative modelling is based on the assumption of a £35bn @USSEmployer risk appetite, which implies a willingness to pay +10% for deficit recovery contributions over 30 years, to recover from an “adverse scenario”. 1/
@ucu’s March 2019 pay claim significantly misrepresents the fall in ‘Total Staff costs as a % of Total income’ as by 6.54% from 09/10 to 16/17. They appear to inconsistently switch from higher figures involving % of expenditure to lower figures involving % of income. 1/
.@RLong_Bailey this was a 0% real terms increase, not a steep hike, by the RPI measure you accept in your Tribune piece about @ucu when you write: “Since 2009 pay has been cut in real terms by nearly 20%”. Please be consistent.
Consequences = setting up JEP that recommended no cuts to DB at 9.1% member contributions till 2020 valuation. @UniofOXford & other @USSEmployers offered just this in Aug 2019. @ucu rejected this offer. So don’t blame @UniofOxford for the reverse.
In this new blog post @alexxdouglas uncovers yet another example of serious misrepresentation of facts & figures on the part of @ucu. Here the misrepresentation is of spending on staff v buildings. 1/
In their most brazen disregard of collective responsibility during the current strikes, the “UCULeft ‘Four Fights’ negotiators” avail themselves of the @UCULeft website to publicly broadcast a serious rift with GS @DrJoGrady. 1/
Piece by @JosephineCumbo on @TPRgovuk consultation on proposed changes to DB regs. Letters to #USS reveal that tPR is already pressuring #USS to clear any deficit within 6 years if, as #USS claims, the covenant is strong. 1/