TWiV 616: Singing about coronavirus

May 21, 2020

Vincent, Kathy and Rich discuss COVID-19 research paper overload, Moderna’s mRNA vaccine Phase I results, increase of ACE2 RNA by cigarette smoke, and answer listener questions.

Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Rich Condit, and Kathy Spindler

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Intro music is by Ronald Jenkees.

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13 comments on “TWiV 616: Singing about coronavirus

  1. Kathleen May 21, 2020

    Just wanted to let you know that you uploaded TWIEVO episode 56 instead of TWiV.
    Thanks! Looking forward to hearing it.

  2. Chris Willberg May 21, 2020

    I wish this was TWIV, but it is TWiEVO56! Still, I enjoyed it too! Looking forward to the real TWIV 616!

  3. Hi all! Just a quick note. On Google Play, when you click “TWiV 616” you get This Week in Evolution Epi 56.

  4. There are several important points in this podcast (I listen through my phone, so these comments are on TWiV 616):.

    1. Dr. John Ioannidis is doing excellent work on the quality of research in medicine. He, and others, have clearly demonstrated that low quality research has been used to support standards of care and that most of the low quality research cannot be replicated.

    Dr. Ioannidis’ hypotheses about COVID-19 do not appear to be reasonable. They do not invalidate any of his earlier work, any more than Linus Pauling’s promotion of vitamin C invalidated his earlier work on DNA.

    2. The Moderna press release was reported on in STAT by Helen Branswell.

    Initially, the stock dropped a lot, but the stock market is like remarriage – the triumph of optimism over experience. In the comments, the anti-science trolls dominate, just as they do in ‘Plandemic’ comments or in hydroxychloroquine comments. The anti-science activists are angry at science and think they can change reality by being mad and more outspoken than reasonable people.

    One of the tactics being used is to accuse her of shorting the stock of Moderna (MRNA – great stock symbol, especially if they do produce the first successful mRNA vaccines, but they aren’t there yet). This is the stock market equivalent of the anti-vaxers accusing people who understand vaccines of being shills for Big Pharma.

    3. I have seen several papers claiming that smokers have been underrepresented in the critically ill and dead COVID-19 patients. Some people are claiming that we should start smoking. Even the papers that have proposed a link completely reject promoting smoking, but have suggested that nicotine gum should be studied. Here are two papers that have been published in PubMed Central. Smoking kills 7 million people each year, so it would not be in the interest of anyone, except the tobacco companies to use this to encourage smoking, but is there something to this? Is it something that will just be reversed by larger numbers and more complete data, since these are mostly extrapolations from the smoking rate in the population to the bad outcomes in the hospital?

    Is there some


  5. James May 21, 2020

    ^ What they said.

  6. Tom Sayer May 21, 2020

    I’ve really been enjoying the podcast. And I hope this isn’t too juvenile of a question. But since washing hands has been stressed from day one, does rainfall have any meaningful effect on reducing exposure to the COVID-19 virus? I know there is no soap in rain, which is part of what makes washing hands important and effective, but would rainfall wash away any meaningful amount of the virus on surfaces exposed to the rain? And maybe it is even less relevant now that it appears that surface contact is less of an issue than previously thought. Thanks for considering this question.

  7. Michael irvine May 22, 2020

    “A Woman who accuser Dr. Anthony Fauci of sexual assault is now saying Trump supporters paid her to lie”

  8. Hello Vincent
    I am Practicing Biochemical Engineer, consulting large pharmaceutical companies and I am an avid listener to your podcast. I was first introduced to Vincent, when back in 2010 I discovered his lectures, W3310, at Columbia University, which I have been watching avidly over the years, plus reading the book Virology from his course. I have been in an amassment with every episode listening to your guests, when on TWiV 616: “Singing about coronavirus”, at time 1:10, I hear Rich, I just love Rich, talking about air filtration and the possibility of mitigating the SARS CoV 2 virus from spreading.
    As Kathy mentioned, with the study from Germany, stating that the majority mode of transmission: 45 % aerosols, 45 % droplets and 10 % Fomites, I now thought, this is my area of expertise. Now I have no hard data, just the thirty years experience as an engineer, but here is a Gedanken experiment.
    Aerosols, with an average size range from millimeters to as small as 1.0 µm, aerosols could be well contained through proper air filtration and air flow rate provided if the filtration rate is sufficient. From the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the suggested filtration rating MERV, (minimum efficiency reporting value), for commercial buildings are MERV 5 to MERV 8, which could filter particles from 3.0 µm to 10.0 µm, and a MERV 9 to MERV 12 rating is 1.0 µm to 3.0 µm could be achieved, and MEVR ratings go as high as 20 with filtration rates of < 0.3 µm. Note HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Air-filters) are rate differently and are outside the scope of this discussion. Now some commercial buildings do not use or require indoor air recirculation to be filtered.
    As for air flow rate, the California Code of Regulation, which I know best, would require from Title 24, part 120.1, 150 Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) per 100 Square Feet of Floor Area (Sq ft) or 15 CFM per person times the expected number of occupants, for the average commercial room. Now to put that into some context, the cleanrooms I design for pharmaceutical companies, an ISO 5 Class room or Grade A, which requires less than 3520 particle per cubic meter smaller than 0.5 µm, the air changes required range from 450 to 600 air changes per hour, which roughly translate to approximately 8000 cfm for a 1000 square foot room.
    Now that would be an over-kill, for the costs would be astronomical and the need to be that clean would not be, in my estimate required, but it would be an interesting experiment to see at what rate, air charges per hour, we could achieve an affective clean environment that would mitigate the spread of SARS CoV 2.

    Note: Other issue I did not bring into the discussion is air flow patterns, and percent new air rates. Most commercial spaces have turbulent air flow pattens, due to inlet air vent locations and return air vent location, plus the movement of dirty Homo Sapiens.

    Anyway, thanks for all you do to keep me sane throughout to current pandemic.

    Kirk M. Steyer
    Steyer Consulting Engineering Resources LLC
    Senior Principal Aseptic Process Engineer

    • Cauthon May 24, 2020

      Thanks for the really interesting data. Your 1000 sq ft room might be divided into 10 cubicles @ 10 ft square, each for one person. How about a small unit like what we might use for a work station in industry – serving, for example, a screen printer – for each cubicle? I have a friend who works as a pharmacist in a hospital, dispensing medicine, and she says there is a unit like that for her work station. We use small fans to keep us cool in the Summer, maybe a small fan with a filter (perhaps as little as 100cfm) could sit right on my desk and keep me safer than I would be without it – depending, of course, on what the general air flow / draft situation might be in the particular location.

  9. John Terry MD May 23, 2020

    Just a suggestion for safety while running and biking. I find a 6 second breath hold will allow a 15-30 ft margin in passing. This only works if there is a substantial speed difference, when passing near the same speed, you probably need to spread out.

  10. Francis Quinn May 23, 2020

    The comments made on TWIV 616 in response to a reader’s letter on the work of John P. A. Ioannidis were unfortunate and unworthy of TWIV.