TWiEVO 63: Year of the coronavirus

December 31, 2020

Nels and Vincent wrap up 2020 with a discussion of novel variants of SARS-CoV-2 that have emerged in the United Kingdom and South Africa, how to interpret the rapidly emerging genome sequence data and what to look for in the coming weeks as these variants spread across the globe.

Hosts: Nels Elde and Vincent Racaniello

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Science Picks 1:21:47

NelsKatalin Karikos’ career and mRNA vaccines
VincentReverse Engineering of mRNA vaccine

Music on TWiEVO is performed by Trampled by Turtles

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5 comments on “TWiEVO 63: Year of the coronavirus

  1. Best commentary on the new variant yet.

    This begs the root cause of this variant which not only is due to swiss cheese sampling but is also derivative of the 100,000 Genomes Project. Push comes to shove this is a call for all of us to bone up on data analysis and look where the light is not so good.

    No the sky is not falling. If the transmission is increased 50+% then we need to find explanatory scenarios in England or other other countries. Why is China not experiencing the issues of the western and developing world? Isn’t the winter air (ie Northern vs. Southern hemisphere scenarios) possibly causing the blooms in the US and England. Perhaps we should focus more on the human behaviors in these scenarios? Yes we should.

    Instead we are captive to the genomic data dump from chicken little scientists who have turned their massive sampling project into a nexus of fear, political cover and scientific focus. Though it may seem like we have endless analytical power – we don’t. The GRINCH project is a start, but the damage here is already done with no real turn in policy pending the outcome. We should be focusing on vaccine distribution and social behavior.

    Instead we are focusing on genomics from half baked ideas of transmission increases? Hmm… there is a world of biology between the gene and the outcome.

    Very cool hypothesis form Nels… I have not seen that anywhere else. Best show yet and they are all good. Fast becoming my favorite podcast.

    • The more cases of the variant found (especially like the one in Colorado) the less we can be concerned about this… ie the variant is the same virus we thought it was.

      Something about this variant has tweaked my skepticism. Maybe I am wrong…I think not.

  2. Not to mention…the more cases of the variant found (especially like the one in Colorado) the less we can be concerned about this… ie the variant is the same virus we thought it was.

    Something about this variant has tweaked my skepticism. Maybe I am wrong…I think not.

  3. Tom Steinberg Dec 31, 2020

    This TWiV watcher also enjoys TWiEVO. It’s good to visit with you in your spaces, see your faces, see the art, read the writing on Nels’ whiteboard: JUST VERDANT PEACEFUL. (MacArthur foundation). Great conversation. I take notes & look up links.

  4. Blue Pilgrim Jan 1, 2021

    About 40 minutes in the discussion reminds me of the black art of economics, where theoretical math theory and paradigm assumptions can easily override the reality (I’m thinking particularly of the ‘cultish’ neoclassical or ‘Chicago School’ economics, relying on the assumption that people are rational actors, and currently that banks do not matter and money is ignored, and which has been pervaded most academic courses and thinking and mathematical modeling. It sounds to me much like ‘the latest big thing”: the new epidemiology and computational biology now being used. Math and theory are vital to advancement, of course, but the assumptions and axioms should always be kept in mind, and questioned, as well as the inherent problems with any model — which is always wrong, even if useful.

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