Jon writes:

Dear Professors,

In TWiV 403, you discussed some data comparing flumist vs the flu shot.

Might a rational person simply decide to get both vaccines??



Les writes:

Dear twiVivants,

Since error 404 on the web means “Not Found”,

How about each person come up with a short list of things that are not known 

but you would be most thrilled to have discovered.


Johnye sent:

Tom writes:

Greetings to the Merry Twixters

A couple of questions about the Canadian vaccine effectiveness study of a Hutterite community.

Toward the end of your discussion you mentioned the lack of a control group, but at the outset it was stated that that 70% of the possible study subjects were vaccinated. I wonder if they could look at the 30% remainder as a control group.

I am interested in long-term virus sequelae. I had chicken pox as a child, and am now curious to see if I get shingles.

Additionally, I’m wondering what to think about post-polio syndrome (PPS). In 1952 I contracted polio. Fortunately it was a mild case with unilateral flaccid paralysis that was gone in a few months. I’ve heard of PPS but am not sure if it’s anything I should be concerned about.

We’ve just come out of a strange mid-August monsoon in Central Texas. Our ranch east of Austin, as of yesterday, had accumulated 15.8″ of rain. (The pastures are lush and the cows are happy.)

Currently in Austin it’s 80F / 27C, 86% humidity with a dew point of 75F/24C, and looking to a high this afternoon of 92F/33C.

Once again, thanks for the opportunity to support TWIX through Patreon. I figure it’s ten bucks a month well spent.

Tom in Austin

Polio Class of ’52.

Hannah writes:

Greetings, TWiV Crew!

First off, I just wanted to say I thoroughly enjoy your podcast. I found it and TWiM when looking for a way to keep my microbiology knowledge current after finishing grad school. I wait anxiously each week for the latest installment and I’ve been perusing older episodes in the meantime, all the while making my hour-plus commute to and from work bearable and informative!

This week’s episode, “It’s not easy being vaccine” (TWiV 403), was of particular interest to me. I found the section on the CDC’s advisement against the Flu Mist vaccine especially interesting as I know it’s the only non-injectable flu shot on the market, which provides a great option for children and the severely vaccine-phobic adults. I did a little of my own research on it and found a few interesting articles that only add to the questions you addressed on the podcast.

I found an NPR article (I believe it’s the same one you found on the show, <>) that summarized the Canadian study you mentioned, but it did point out the vaccine tested in Canada was the trivalent Flu Mist vaccine and not the currently produced (in the US at least) quadravalent version. The NPR article also mentioned that, ” CDC data consistently showed the live nasal vaccine to be very effective in children until 2013, when the vaccine went from including three strains (trivalent) to including four strains (quadrivalent).” Does going from a trivalent to a quadrivalent vaccine usually have an impact on efficacy of a viral vaccine?

I also found a review article published in 2015 that claims LAIV influenza vaccines are effective in its abstract, but I was unfortunately unable to read the article as it was not available through my university’s library.

I then found two 2016 studies that show LAIV influenza vaccines are only effective against Influenza B, Influenza A, or Yamagata influenza, but NOT against Influenza A/H1N1pdm09 which I believe you said was the dominant strain last season. The first study ( looks to be done through the CDC and the second ( through AstraZeneca itself in conjunction with three medical schools.

I look forward to updates on this topic as it’s quite interesting.

On your third topic of the show, the Varicella-Zoster vaccine, I am also quite interested. I was one of the first children vaccinated in my area in 1994-1995, and I did not contract chicken pox. Obviously, at age 25 and healthy, I am not quite in the risk group for shingles/Zoster yet, but I am interested to see what happens in the next few years with studies concerning this as well as in the next 30 or so years when people my age enter the risk group for shingles/Zoster. I can’t know if I am still immune to chicken pox as I am not around children, but I do have friends close to my age that are school teachers and appear to have maintained their vaccinated immunity to the virus as they have not contracted chicken pox from their students. That’s hardly a scientific study, but I would be very interested to see an actual study on those of us in the initial “mainstream” vaccination group. You also mentioned doing part of a show on the subject: please do! I’d love to hear what your experts think.

Signing off from cloudy Boulder, CO, where it’s currently 78F/25C and looks as though our daily afternoon thunderstorm is arriving closer to lunchtime.



Diane writes (translated from French):

Having reached polio at the age of 6, I had just started school in Lévis, Quebec, Canada in September 1960 before the last polio outbreak in Quebec,

I reached for his legacy of its post polio syndrome today 30-40 years after the acute phase therefore I have become disabled since my 58 years and to this day I am 62 years old and I have a severe phenomenon rotoscoliose very painful and still limits me from month to month and I started a book on the subject but fatigue and the effect of drugs kidnap me momentum, the passion is still there but the exhaustion pain, extreme heat of our summers limiting my breath with my physical deconditioning because less active can not walk more than 15 to 20 minutes. I get involved in continuing to do my research on the possible treatment of post polio syndrome exists. Thank you for reading my comment and thank you for all your information is very useful to me.

A victim, a survivor ……

Nick Acheson writes:

Hi guys:

Your discussion in TWIV 403 of the waning efficacy of Varicella vaccine against the appearance of Zoster in people over 60 to me is a bit scary. If this is the same vaccine given to children (but in higher dose to adults), and its efficacy is reduced to near zero after ten years in adults, what about children vaccinated with this strain? Are they losing their immunity to chickenpox ten years after vaccination? If so, they are now in danger of being infected with varicella virus as teenagers or adults, and this is a much more dangerous disease when first acquired as an adult.

Is there any information on the lasting efficacy of varicella vaccination of children over time? I would be a bit surprised if this had not been done, but of course these are expensive and complicated studies to do.

I figure you can find these studies faster than I can. I have kind of switched out of virology and am now at the end of a fascinating ornithology congress in Washington DC. I gave a paper on the songs of Red-eyed Vireos that I have been recording for the last three summers nearby my home in Montreal, Quebec. Since I am a long-time birdwatcher, this career shift isn’t fully unexpected, but it is exhilarating to be exposed to fantastic scientific studies on communication, speciation, evolution, sexual behaviour, etc of birds. And my “amateur” presentation on the highly individual singing behaviour of Red-eyed Vireos (tied for the 6th-most abundant bird in North America, with an estimated population of 130 million, of which 80 million are in Canada during the breeding season) was well-received. A very open scientific community. And I get the impression that rivalries and publication scooping are not so prevalent as they were (still are?) in the medical and molecular biology areas.

It was hot and humid today in the DC area but a heavy afternoon thunderstorm cooled us all down!

Regards, a lapsed TWIV listener (but I tune in now and then),

Nick Acheson

Patricia writes:

Greetings TWiV Folks,

As a biological anthropologist by training, I have enjoyed your periodic discussions of generalized terms to use when referring to a mixed sexed/multiple gender-identified groups.  I often send blanket emails to my classes with “Hi Folks” or “Hi All”, and have found those work fairly well.  I should be working on syllabi for fall classes as they begin next week, but instead I am writing this email.

I have greatly enjoyed becoming more informed about viruses through listening to this podcast (and TWiEVO, more of my direct interests).  I came across this article (attached) in one of my online feeds, and thought I could share it as a listener pick regarding Zika infection.  It shows through radiography (Magnetic resonance, MR and tomography) scans of fetal and postnatal brain development the effect Zika infection has on the developing brain.  The images are graphic, and not for the faint of heart, but clearly show anencephaly and other brain tissue abnormalities and less known skeletal abnormalities associated with known Zika infection of the mom.

Finally, the weather in Akron, OH currently is about 74 F/ 23C with nice clear skies and light winds…



Patricia S. Vinyard, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Instruction

Department of Anthropology and Classical Studies

University of Akron

Martin writes:

Please note that only two of the seven babies had antibodies for Zika. Can you explain this to your audience? Is this disease mongering?


Mike writes:

What if our organs are like parasites that coexist inside of our bodies sending chemical signals to our brains making us do things or crave things that feed each one of them? Hence the saying follow your heart. This would raise the question. What about the rest of the body? It could be possible these parasites developed individually in the oceans or whatever primordial soup existed in ancient times. As conditions of the earth changed they formed bonds and developed a casing including muscle tissue and bones for protection, a nervous system, and the brain in order to guide this one body they all now share. Each one of them sending signals to our brains creating what we perceive as emotions or basic instincts in some cases in order to guide us to feed them in a hopefully balanced way. This could be why wisdom in life is all about balance; because extremes don’t serve our entire bodies. Though it is possible for organs to be phased out in the evolutionary process due to changing  outside environments as well. Not only is our earth a battleground for survival but our bodies are just like the earth and have their own environment as well. This could be why their are people who have control over their body temperature using their thoughts. We could easily be evolving to develop supernatural skills that give us more control over our inner environment and they all start with the organs sending chemical signals to the brain. Your organs would like you to perceive yourself as a perfect functioning machine and if you have trouble believing this then the chemical signals they are sending are not going to work properly and you will fall prey to disease. There are other smaller micro organisms that are also “parasites” that are fighting to gain the coveted position inside of the human body. These smaller parasites and viruses can work against your organs and are an opposing force to an already perfect body. It is in our best interest to allow our bodies to maintain balance with some of these microorganisms or to free ourselves from them completely as some of them are far too aggressive and can be a threat to our bodies as a whole. We are a habitat just like the earth that has developed its own protective layer and created its own biosphere where everything functions together in unison and releasing chemical signals to the earth we may be changing its environment as well. We have to become like the better evolved “parasites” such as much of the plant life on this planet and develop a function that serves the environment in a healthy way. We have to use our knowledge of our own inner environment and the outer to create perfect harmony or we will be phased out by the earth just like the unwanted parasites in your own body. Obviously this changes our perception on the word parasite because essentially everything behaves this way aggressively fighting for a position within a favorable environment for reproduction and consumption. It raises the deeper more philosophical question of..Will it ever be “heaven on earth” so to speak? If our bodies are still fighting for perfect harmony how can we achieve perfect harmony with the earth? Won’t there always be other organisms jockeying for a position here on this planet and causing collateral damage in the process? Are we doomed to an eternal battleground?

Les writes:

Dear Prof Vincent R et al,

Is this headline as much baloney as it sounds?

Regards…. Les

Sofie writes:

Dear Twiv-team

Maybe you’ll find this interesting if you haven’t already seen it.

Unfortunately I can’t get access to it and read the full paper.

Have a wonderful week.

Kind regards

William writes:

Dear TWiVers

Thought this might be of interest – like copper from TWiM: IBM designing antivirals by computation.u

“We began to think, how can we move forward and kind of attack the virus in a very different way,” says Hedrick. “Instead of going after its RNA or DNA, we looked at the glycoproteins that surround…the virus.” No matter what the virus and how it mutates, it’s going to have these substances on the surface; they have electric charges (some positive, some negative) that a chemical can stick onto. What the researchers developed is a polymer that adheres to the virus, blocking it from hooking onto a victim cell in the body. That’s step one.

The macromolecule can also stick to immune cells such as macrophages, blocking the spot where a virus would attach. (It’s very unlikely for the same macromolecule to attach to both a virus and an immune cell.) The giant molecule is decorated (actual scientific term) with a sugar called mannose. “The way we look at it, it’s kind of like honey, right. It’s kind of sticky,” says Hedrick. Technically, it forms hydrogen bonds to mannose receptors on the human cell. “We can now competitively go after this cell faster than the virus can go after your immune cell. And once we block those receptors, we prevent infection,” says Hedrick. The mannose sugar, it turns out, also blocks the macromolecule’s toxic effects, according to a paper the researchers published.

I think, though I am not positive, that this is the underlying scientific paper:!divRelatedContent

William (Bill) Johnston

Berkeley, CA

PS Though it is mid-May, we are having mid-June weather: foggy in the morning, burning off about 10:00am yielding sunny, cool (low 60Fs, 15-18C), and breezy mid-days, with fog coming back in late afternoon. Our Christmas cactus is also confused: it’s blooming again.

Wink writes: (to Stan Lemon)

Thanks for being the best lecturer when I was a Navy ID Fellow and took the Trop Med course at WRAIR, and thanks for a great TWiV.

Wink Weinberg


Suellen writes:

Many thanks to everyone for the excellent podcasts. I listen to TWIV, TWIP, and TWIM, as well as TWiEVO, and enjoy all of them.

I have a question that I hope is not a silly one: I am wondering why when people get measles they get that bumpy rash. I guess I could ask the same about similar diseases like chickenpox — what purpose does the rash serve? As I understand it (and I’m not an MD or a PhD or a virologist or anything like that), measles is a respiratory illness. So why does it also cause that skin rash? Just curious, and I know some one of you TWIX-ers will have the answer.


Roswell, GA

PS — Weather here: Humid, scattered clouds, 84 degrees F. Summer is upon us!

Gary C writes:

Hey guys,

I have to take issue with Alan’s worries about digital data being in a format or whatever. I have to think that any situation or site that archives scientific papers, will keep up with any format change!

If you just look at what has been done on YouTube. I mean they have hundreds of millions of video, yet they changed them all to not run in flash!! An archive service with much smaller file sizes should be much faster and I have seen that happen over and over again when formats change!!

I am not saying that some very small archives may not be able to keep up, but even then I doubt that it would be hard for them to change the format needed.

Just a tiny thing that bugs me!!

Gary C

Anthony writes:

I was searching on Amazon to see if the price on the Fenner book had dropped and I ran across this.  I looked on the old TWiV Site and I didn’t find that it had been mentioned.



OneTime writes:

as we are all to be calling him old codger it reminded me of george melly and stranglers

Steve writes:

Hi Vincent et al,

This has nothing whatever to do with virology, but I couldn’t help but think of you all trying to read this, while I struggled through it.   A masterpiece of a tongue twister, I’m sure you will all enjoy.  🙂

All the best,




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