TWiV 638: Do, there is no try

July 12, 2020

Daniel Griffin provides a clinical update on COVID-19, then Viviana Simon joins to review serological assays developed at Mt. Sinai for SARS-CoV-2 infection, tracking the outbreak in NYC, and listener questions.

Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Dickson Despommier, Alan Dove, and Rich Condit

Guests: Viviana Simon, Daniel Griffin and Chuck Knirsch

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Download TWiV 638 (99 MB .mp3, 164 min)
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Intro music is by Ronald Jenkees

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17 comments on “TWiV 638: Do, there is no try

  1. Richard Cornell Jul 12, 2020

    Since there are 1.2 million people in the US with HIV who run the risk of dying from COVID-19 it could be interesting if as this site has said that we all will at one time in the next 3 years be infected. That means that I’m dead even if my heath is somewhat healthy. We are a country that many die from being over weight. Who if they stand straight can not see their toes of their shoes.That lifestyles are in question.
    Maybe this virus will have an impact upon us all in ways that force us to prepared for the next major pandemic to come along.

  2. Kelly hawboldt Jul 12, 2020

    I’m new to TWIV., but will be staying and have been listening to past non covid episodes but of course am a little covid obsessed. I come from a different background, PhD in chem eng and prof at Canadian university. I did do my masters in modelling growth of vero cells on microcarriers In bioreactor…so I’m familiar with the terms you use but am learning a lot
    inPhD quickly went back to chemical reactors and kinetics.
    I was really interested in the discussion on virus transport, this to me is ideal Transport phenomena collaboration with mech or Chem eng with bio sci people…ideally a Chem as mechs ignore mass transfer (yes I’m throwing shade on mechs that’s what engineers do to each other…don’t even get me started on civils).. Understanding the fluid, mass, and heat transfer behaviour as aerosols and how aerosols change with time due to this transport combined with virus activity would help better design HVAC and potentially UV or other mitigative measures…I’m sure this is being done somewhere,, are you aware of any? Enjoying pod and looking forward to the day we don’t have to focus on covid but for now am learning so much on covid…FYI we are online now and will be for fall at our Uni. Best Kelly

  3. Karen Jul 12, 2020

    Re. the Spanish paper on SARS-CoV-2 antibodies surveillance. Vincent: “not as if we are purposefully trying to do it”. That is the piece of information you are all missing, ie the political, economic & scientific debate about intentionally allowing SARS-CoV-2 community transmissions (except susceptible severe COVID-19 cohorts) for the purpose of building natural herd immunity, without waiting for vaccines (eg Swedish model). Ie, vs lockdowns with physical distancing etc measures (avoidance of natural infection).

    So yes, there is this sector that believe it is better to intentionally allow SARS-CoV-2 infections for herd immunity, are against lockdowns and measures for avoidance of community transmissions (usually for economic reasons). So, one big pox party.

    • Karen Jul 12, 2020

      In light of my above post, keeping in mind that there are some epidemiologists, economists etc that believe in allowing SARS-CoV-2 community transmissions for natural herd immunity, to avoid economic damaging lockdowns and physical distancing measures …

      From the Spanish paper:
      “Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in Spain (ENE-COVID): a nationwide, population-based seroepidemiological study.”

      “Despite the high impact of COVID-19 in Spain, prevalence estimates remain low and are clearly insufficient to provide herd immunity. This cannot be achieved without accepting the collateral damage of many deaths in the susceptible population and overburdening of health systems. In this situation, social distance measures and efforts to identify and isolate new cases and their contacts are imperative for future epidemic control.”

  4. Susan Berkowitz Jul 12, 2020

    I can’t believe you didn’t include the pictures of the bookstore!

  5. Dear TWiV,

    I am an alum of Cornell and now I am a graduate fellow at Rockefeller University. I am also a Chinese Citizen who has been to the US for 7 years.

    Usually I am contented with being a silent listener and I love your content very much. I first finished the virology course 2020 and then moved to TWiV. They were both very informative and TWiV has been very cathartic to me in this time of chaos. However, I feel it is time for me to speak up because I do not want the one rare representation of Chinese people to be the one in this episode.
    First, let me say that person was very rude, uninformed and misguided. Please do not take it as how Chinese people behave. It was the opposite of what is expected from a proper person. I do, however, think that I understand some of the impulses that led them to the rude rant.
    I believe this person had never been to a Journal Club discussion and interpreted the doubting and speculations of the adeno5 vaccine as some sort of American exceptionalism. I would probably feel similarly (it does not excuse for their rudeness) had I not been trained in literature discussion. I know better that skepticism and criticism are crucial part of how scientists here deliver discussion.
    I very much appreciate your sharing that SARS-cov2 did not come from a lab. I had and am still having a hard time dealing with the Americans who hate me because I am Chinese. Just today, as I was listening to this episode while jogging in Manhattan, someone yelled at me “Go back to hell, go back to China. Etc.” I cried for half of the night when I got home. Your standing with the facts really has helped me a lot during a last few months because I know there are people out there who do not blame my people for this.
    All in all, I believe that there is a dialog to be open here between the two most distant cultures and also scientists and nonscientists. Living between two worlds for 7 years has given me perspectives on the disconnections. The point for American exceptionalism may not be warranted in that ill-mannered person’s rant, but it could be found quite frequently everywhere. We do not have to look elsewhere, just in today’s episode, a Russian commenter talked about journalism in Russia. You were surprised that a Russian newspaper could produce quality reporting and you commented that American journalism is supposed to be the best because you have a free press. This is a huge assumption because a nation does not need a state media to produce propaganda and biased news. The news reported by free media here rivals (and sometimes even outmatches) the ones produced by state medias of other countries in biases and brainwashing agendas. I routinely consult with third party sources as I have done since I was 10-11 (BBC, euronews etc).
    Here is an informative though a bit simple an introduction of culture intelligence for cultures including the Chinese culture. I believe both people could really benefit from reading this book.
    Please by no means start to walk on eggshells when you are having a discussion. Contrary to popular beliefs, quite a number of Chinese people love a good debate on controversial topics (like Germanic culture). You would be surprise about lack of taboos in some discussions.

    Best wishes,


    • gordon kelly Jul 14, 2020

      hi Meng, as a listener you probably know already, but Vincent has interviews all over the world, and many are with outstanding virologists from asia, who come across as warm, dedicated, and interesting people.
      i hope that the sentiment stirred up against people of other nations, china especially, will die soon, as there is no justification for it. Sorry for what you are enduring.

      while there was a short delay in china of govt not being open with their people, it was beginning of jan when US was given genetic info, and whole world saw Jan21 an entire city locked down, so we all knew this was serious. from that point on,
      the US response cannot be blamed on any other country, and may nations with much less resources than US did much a better job in a very short time.
      so, many people here in US do not see china as the culprit, and even more so do not see asian people as being to blame.
      from very early in the pandemic, the news showed us pictures of many asian faces with masks on, setting a good example for the world, which we did not follow here, and can only blame ourselves.

  6. Al Aburto Jul 13, 2020

    Hi TwiV team!
    You guys/gals are awesome! You remind me of a talk show called “Car Talk”, which my wife and I loved too, even though we didn’t know anything about repairing cars! 🙂

    I’m a “knuckle head”, :-), with a masters degree in physics from the University of California. I’m retired for 15 years now after working with the US Navy for 30 years. I’m in San Diego where today, 13 Jul 2020, it is 77F outside. Nice, but a bit humid.

    My sister-in-law sent me an article which I got really excited about because it showed physics innovation at work!

    Here is the article:

    What do you think? I see it as a fast way to screen people quickly, a minute, and if a positive result shows up then do a PCR test.

    I’m worried though because the article is dated 28 Mar and I find nothing more about it since then. 🙁

    Stay well! Also, I like it when Prof. Racaniello gets grumpy! 🙂 It is a nice grumpy!


  7. Could Daniel, et al. comment on use of the anti-parasitic Ivermectin as Tx for covid-19? I learned of an anecdotal case of an infected South American physician with moderate symptoms who exhibited a profound positive response after only two days of treatment.. There might have been earlier discussion about this, but I have not found any research studies/papers.

    • Ah – spoke to soon ; ( Should have listened to all of this show first!

      • Sorry to belabor this, but it might merit further attention in the podcast. The following two articles are intriguing.

        Regarding safety
        It was discovered and developed over forty years ago from an organism in soil only found in Japan. Since then, it has successfully treated billions of animals, and “Ivermectin proved to be even more of a ‘Wonder drug’ in human health, improving the nutrition, general health and wellbeing of billions of people worldwide ever since it was first used to treat Onchocerciasis in humans in 1988. It proved ideal in many ways, being highly effective and broad-spectrum, safe, well tolerated and could be easily administered (a single, annual oral dose).”

        Regarding mechanism of action
        “The exact mechanism to which this effect can be attributed to is yet to be validated, but the speculated method is inhibition of importin α/β1 mediated transport of viral proteins in and out of the nucleus.4 Importins, a type of karyopherins, exemplify a major class of soluble transport receptors which are involved in nucleo-cytoplasmic transit of various substrates..”

        I have spent many years in medical product development, and understand the importance of RCTs in drug development, but one cannot look away from large observational data in the face of a serious threat.

  8. Jeffery J Biss Jul 14, 2020

    So, if there is not a long term immunity, then we need good treatments to reduce the risk of death for certain populations, such as the elderly. We haven’t been able to produce a vaccine for the cold, so probably not for this. Therefore, the only solution appears to be better management through medication.

  9. Michelle Jul 14, 2020

    On about 7/4, deaths in Texas jumped to a new, increased exponential rate.
    From 5/16 – 7/4: 585exp(0.0134D)
    From 7/5 – present: 109exp(0.0282D) (increase by ~2x)
    No other state examined has shown such a profound and well-modeled (i.e., transition from a slower to a faster exponential) increase in total deaths.

  10. Joanna Fancy Jul 16, 2020

    Thanks for your podcast.

    Have you guys any opinion on this?

    (I am not a doc – just a lay person.)

  11. Adriana Menezes Jul 17, 2020

    My name is Adriana, I´m a biologist from Brazil. I work at the Laboratory of Diagnostics of Zoonoses and Vector-Borne Diseases at Zoonoses Surveillance Division in São Paulo. Listening to the podcast 638-Do, “there is no try”, I felt I had to write to you to tell our story. We are part of the health division of the municipality of São Paulo and by middle March we were asked by the government if we could performe RT-qPCR for SARS CoV 2. Our lab isn´t big and consequently our capacity to do exams is also limited. And we knew we had to struggle with some issues concerning this new challenge. From buying the reagents that at that time was missing worldwide to structural problems. But we said ok , let’s do it!

    Here at lab, we didn´t have experience in handling pathogen like coronavirus, so , while our lab had to undergo reforms, we signed a partnership with Prof. Paulo Brandão, a professor at the Veterinary Dept at the University of São Paulo, and a specialist in coronavirus . We took the samples from our lab to his lab everyday and went back to Zoonoses Surveillance Division with the plate just ready to go into the equipment. We are very grateful to him and his team for making this possible.

    Now, our lab is ready and we are testing the healthcare staff of public hospitals in the city of São Paulo for Covid 19. Our goal is to release the results as soon as possible and we are achieving this. It´s not a huge number of exams, but we are very proud to be able to help doctors and nurses who need to be sure that they wont´t transmit the vírus to their patients at the hospitals where they work and also all the people around them.
    Congratulations for the podcast