Covid-19 leads as Pharmaceutical Technology lists the top five terms tweeted on infectious diseases in Q3 2020, based on data from GlobalData’s Influencer Platform. The top tweeted terms are the trending industry discussions happening on Twitter by key individuals (influencers) as tracked by the platform.

1. Covid-19 – 12,185 mentions

The need to restore Covid-19 data onto government websites, rebound in coronavirus cases, and the pausing of Covid-19 vaccine trial, were popularly discussed in the third quarter of 2020. According to an article shared by Laurie Garrett, a science journalist and author, the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) directed the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to restore the public hospital data on its website as it had been removed earlier. The HSS issued the directive to provide access to health data to the public.

Helen Branswell, an infectious diseases and global health reporter, further discussed how AstraZeneca’s vaccine study was paused due to an adverse reaction in one of the trial participants in the UK. The company maintained that it was a routine action to review the safety data and determine the cause behind the unexplained reaction, the article noted.

Covid-19 also trended in discussions related to the rising number of Covid-19 cases in a tweet shared by Gregg Gonsalves, a global health activist and epidemiologist. Gonsalves noted that the number of Covid-19 infections surpassed April 2020 records. He added that the increase was a result of wrong actions by the government that may lead to worse scenarios over the next six months.

2. Vaccine – 3,419 mentions

Scepticism around emergency use authorization (EUA) for Covid-19 vaccine, ways to manage the health crisis before the arrival of a potential vaccine, and large vaccine trials being conducted, were some of the widely discussed topics in Q3. According to an article shared by Prof Peter Hotez, a scientist and paediatrician, there were several reasons to be concerned about the release of a Covid-19 vaccine through a EUA. He added that EUAs involved substandard reviews that could not be justified for a first-of-a-kind vaccine planned to be administered to a large part of the population.

Marc Lipsitch, an infectious disease epidemiologist and microbiologist, further discussed the importance of imposing lockdowns to control the spread of the virus, save lives, and get the economy back on track. The article suggested that countries such as the US re-opened too quickly, leading to the occurrence of approximately 50,000 cases per day. Therefore, a mandate to strictly stay indoors, except for essential workers, was extremely important to be implemented at this phase of the outbreak, the article noted.

Another discussion surrounding vaccine included the start of large human clinical trials due to the urgent need for a Covid-19 vaccine. The mRNA-1273 supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had cleared phase one human trials, according to an article shared by Francis S Collins, the NIH Director.

3. HIV – 1,727 mentions

Covid-19 outcomes in HIV infected people, myths about how the disease can be transmitted, and the value of the charitable sector in enhancing HIV care, were popularly discussed during the quarter. Carlos del Rio, a professor of global health and epidemiology, shared results from a study conducted to systematically review coronavirus outcomes in HIV patients. The study found that more data was required to understand the outcomes of Covid-19 in HIV patients. The article added that HIV patients with coronavirus symptoms had to be tested for super infections.

Matthew Hodson, executive director of NAM aidsmap, meanwhile, tweeted about the myths surrounding how HIV can be transmitted. He listed nine ways in which the disease does not spread including spitting, mosquitoes, tea cups, and more.

HIV also trended in discussions on how the funding crisis for the charitable sector will largely impact healthcare providers such as the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK in an article shared by Laura Waters, a physician. HIV charity partners have been suffering huge losses due to the pandemic. The NHS has also been impacted as it refers patients from primary care to many local non-clinical services provided by these charities.

4. SARS – 934 mentions

The creation of COVAX initiative to accelerate the development of Covid-19 vaccines, the eventual transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus from younger adults to older adults, and the severity of the disease, were popularly discussed in Q3. Seth Berkley, a medical epidemiologist, shared a video on the intention behind the creation of the COVAX partnership.

The COVAX initiative was jointly launched by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a public and private partnership for developing vaccines, Gavi, an alliance created for vaccines, and the World Health Organisation. It will offer countries across the world access to potential vaccine candidates including vaccines for Covid-19. The initiative will particularly benefit poor countries to keep their population safe from infections such as Covid-19.

Ian M Mackay, a virologist and scientist, meanwhile, shared a heat map of Covid-19 cases in Florida, and how the number of cases started to grow in younger adults and then spread to older adults. He added that the disease was persistent and hard to curb, which may lead to more deaths in the coming months across the world.

SARS was also discussed by Mark Garvey, a consultant clinical scientist, in an article on hospitals in Birmingham being on high alert as the number of coronavirus cases continued to increase. The article highlighted that the number of coronavirus admissions were forecast to double every week, and that the infection in patients was as severe as witnessed in April.

5. Influenza – 751 mentions

The importance of getting the influenza vaccine, studies to compare the deaths caused by Covid-19 and the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic, were popularly discussed in the third quarter. According to an article shared by Dr Tara C Smith, an infectious disease epidemiologist, the governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, requested people to get their flu shots. He recommended getting the influenza vaccine to prevent people from succumbing to both influenza and coronavirus at the same time during the fall season.

Carlos del Rio, meanwhile, discussed the mortality rates caused by the Covid-19 outbreak in New York City during its early phases and during the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic. Though a direct comparison was not possible, the study found that the mortality rate associated with coronavirus during the first two months of the outbreak in New York was comparable to the peak mortality rate witnessed during the 1918 influenza pandemic. Polls revealed that Covid-19 restrictions such as lockdowns were lifted too early in the US, which could have led to the large-scale spread of the virus, the article noted.