Norman writes:

Great to hear you guys talking about microbiology and current concerns in such a relaxed, frank and informative discussion. That’s all that most laypeople want to hear, I believe. – Just open, honest facts, without hyperbole or evasion. 

This is something so lacking in today’s media that people are forced to ‘Google’ for true expert perspectives on virtually everything of importance. So, many thanks to you and your guest for the day: Ralph Baric.

One comment I might add: Having once lived in China for about seven years, I’m sure you are right about the cultural nature of these live food markets and the need to mitigate – rather than ban this age-old practice. Hopefully, the younger generations in China and elsewhere will be more receptive to the educational health-warnings about the dangers involved and the need to change from potentially harmful habits. Programmes of education should also be on the menu!

Warmest regards,

Norman McIlwain

(South Wales, UK)

Carl sent photos of bat soup in Wuhan, too graphic to post.

Seneca writes:


As someone who deals with images, I can say that, according to the image’s submitter, the image is an illustration of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  Not a virus. TinEye, a reverse image search tool, can be fun.


Stacy writes:

Hi all,

I have a few questions about the Coronavirus episode.

  1. Are bats getting sicker around the world?
  2. Are some bats super spreaders?
  3. Are fruit bats the usual hosts for viruses that spillover?
  4. Can TWIV invite a bat specialist?

I am addicted to your show. I do extremely tedious art projects (the only fun is in the planning) and listening to your conversations feeds my brain while my hands are occupied.

Thank you!

Chase writes:

So I just started listening to your podcast with the corona virus, and I was wondering if there is a difference between the effectiveness of these two masks in the case of an influenza outbreak. I have been taught by some that surgical masks are good to use if you are infected but not that efficient at preventing infection compared to a n95 or n99 mask. Is there anything conclusive on that?

Sophia writes:

Dear TWIV team and dudes (=Vincent started this, sorry)

thank you for a very informative episode (584) on Coronaviruses. You asked most of the questions I would have asked and your guest was wonderful (have enjoyed him on previous episodes as well) so I feel a lot better about this epidemic now. THANK YOU SO MUCH

ok, so now I would like to ask some questions, of the  general public nature I guess, if you’d like to answer: 

1. if you do get sick with the flu during the year, months after you got vaccinated, you have mild symptoms. Are you still infectious? and for how long? I think I am sick with the flu now and not sure if I should show up for work (school type environment)

2. if SARS ended up causing 800 deaths worldwide but flu kills around 300,000 each year why make such a big deal about the coronaviruses and not the flu? there was a lady guest on BBC that actually said that the general direction to the public would be to worry more about their yearly flu shot than nCoV.

3. could you talk more about the flu please? this year’s strain feels like a very nasty one! 

thank you for all you do!!!!!!!

Greetings from Greece

sorry, you did answer question n1 on twiv 582. I listened again (and paid attention this time!). However, I still have some questions if you don’t mind:

1. so how can you shed virus if you are asymptomatic? like where does the virus come out from?

2. the cough tends to persist a couple of weeks after recovery at which time I am assuming you are not transmitting anything. I had mild symptoms and a dry cough. Still wonder if I were transmitting. 

3. how far do these droplets go and how long can they stay alive (on air or surfaces?). if you cough on your scarf can you assume your scarf doesn’t contain live virus the next day? if you are lecturing (this gives you some space from students) can you still transmit? does the virus stay live and suspended on air just like TB?

4. the Health Ministry in Greece is circulating a brochure for schools to follow to cope with the flu epidemic here. It suggests keeping kids away from school even after a day after recovery (still wondering when someone doesn’t transmit anymore) and cleaning all school surfaces with chlorine. 

1. if you already had a coronavirus infection earlier in the year (ok, you couldn’t have known but hypothetically. I am sure many people have had such an infection without complications) are you at all protected against the Chinese one? or is it like the flu? totally new, no protection even if previously infected

2. how far are you guys concerned? esp if you travel overseas. and how well do you think the epidemic is being handled in China? I read this:

from trusted French station and got worried

sorry for all the questions and email

all the best

Edward writes:

Hello the Twiverers,

I’m writing with a quick listener pick – if TWiV listeners fancy adding some virology to their festive decorations then they might like to check out this booklet of paper snowflake designs – each one is a (reasonably accurate) virus capsid. (The attached pdf can be downloaded from the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research at

Thanks for the great show,

Ed Hutchinson

Research Fellow

MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research

Anthony writes:

Microbe Hunting: from Autism to Zika – Ian Lipkin

Possible listener pick?