JUST WILLIAM: Best COVID Commentators

DISCLAIMER: Dear Reader, let me make a promise to you. I’d very much like to declare that I did not choose the subject of this week’s column during Dominic Cummings’ testimony to Parliament – whether you choose to believe that or not, is of course, up to you.

It might be odd to start with a disclaimer, but the subject of this week’s column is on that most topical of things, COVID. And namely, whom to follow. As a certain person’s testimony to Parliament may have hinted at yesterday, those of us who follow commentators have consistently been amongst the most well informed when it comes to public health matters over the last year – so without any further ado, here are ten of the best commentators when it comes to all things COVID. (a small note: I will have received a first dose of the vaccine by the time you read it).

Methodology: These commentators will be here thanks to a few key factors – clarity, context, balance, knowledge and accessibility – with bonus points for those who have had track success in spotting trends both good and bad, although that’s not the only criteria here. There’s also no particular order for the listing.

Another disclaimer here – some of those names listed will have disagreed with each other (and still disagree strongly) on policy in certain areas, but they’re not here for groupthink.

Chise (@sailorrooscout)

The year is 2021. A pandemic rages through the world. Desperately, millions of people search for reliable data on vaccine efficacy. The call is answered by a mRNA vaccine scientist who is also a furry.

All of the above is entirely real, as Chise’s – a molecular biologist who has been in the field for over 10 years now – very informative Twitter threads on vaccine performance all over the globe show. The first entry on this list, she’s not the only person to take a spot for her ability to explain complex and detailed studies in a simple format, but she deserved much recognition for the time and effort she’s put into defending vaccine performance against many of the internet’s worst people (quite a few of whom are only too happy to question her performance constantly).

For more on her, please read this excellent interview with her and Edie Miller on Logically.ai:


Mags (@PerthshireMags)

One of the most difficult things about following the pandemic has been keeping up with all the various streams of information that we have. As well as daily cases and deaths, we have reports from a whole host of different bodies, and few have been as effective as Mags at tracking them and making sense of what they mean.

In addition to those analytical skills, Mags earns extra points for his critical analysis of border policy during COVID – there’s an awful lot more to discuss than most people would have you think – and his fanatical support of dual cup winners St Johnstone.

That Ryan Chap (@ThatRyanChap)

Ryan’s Twitter profile states that he provides ‘commentary from a non-expert with the odd Corona chart’ – a true statement, but a humble one as he’s consistently provided some of the clearest analysis of not only COVID numbers but the likely effects and policy decisions that may follow.

In an era where Government communication has been a times, dreadfully substandard ( don’t talk to me about it, listen to Bolton’s director of public health, as seen in the link below) – Ryan’s clear sighted analysis has been a godsend.


Oliver Johnson (@BristOliver)

A self-described ‘corona-centrist’ – a position with which I very much self-identify – Oliver’s charts for cases and hospitalisations are a great resource for showing how far the UK’s vaccination drive has taken us, and his writing has proven to be most prescient. One of many people on this list who can be described as cool headed when it comes to analysing the pandemic, he’s been a reassuring presence on the timeline this year.

Prof Christina Pagel (@chrischirp)

Probably the most well-known person on this list, Pagel has earned admiration and condemnation (especially during the last calendar year) for her work over the past year on COVID.

Her track record speaks for itself, however, with Pagel and other members of Independent SAGE having spotted many of the problems that the Government has found itself in at their earliest point, and if experts like her had been listened to more it’s highly likely that we’d have avoided many of the worst points of the pandemic.

Paul Mainwood (@PaulMainwood)

There are glorious amounts of vaccine data available on the Internet and Paul’s stock analysis is always a fascinating, if not sometimes frustrating read – *cue shouts of ‘get jabs in arms!’ – whilst followers of his also have the benefits of for

Hugo Gye (@HugoGye)

Could I have had this list without Hugo and his dose updates? Absolutely impossible.

James Ward (@JamesWard73)

James is a late addition to my timeline – but an excellent one – and it would be a travesty if he were not to be included following his excellent models regarding the effect that B.1.617.2 may have on the roadmap especially.

Deborah Cohen (@deb_cohen)

Some of you might recognise Deborah from your television (or mobile) screens, where she has been outstanding as Newsnight’s health correspondent. Those of you who do follow her already will have the benefit of her tough questioning on major issues, and of course the best of her detailed and accessible Newsnight reports via YouTube – both of which have been outstanding.

Have I missed anyone? Please do let me know and we may come back to this column! Stay safe, get vaccinated and be lucky!

Coronavirus Good News (@Coronavirusgoo1)

A great account/poster who finds the very important bright side in what can be a sea of misery. A must have for all who keep an eye on COVID data.

Covid Fact Check UK (@fact_covid)

A must follow for those who don’t want to be bogged down in a sea of news – this hard working account has managed to provide context to every single official announcement over the past year and is a rock solid source of UK information.



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