TWiV 642: Bringin’ in 50 keys of spike mRNA

July 19, 2020

Daniel Griffin provides a clinical update on COVID-19, then we discuss phase I preliminary results of the SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine, factors associated with death in 17 million patients, and answer listener questions.

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

Guests: Daniel Griffin and Chuck Knirsch

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Download TWiV 642 (96 MB .mp3, 160 min)
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Intro music is by Ronald Jenkees

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17 comments on “TWiV 642: Bringin’ in 50 keys of spike mRNA

  1. ken parkyn Jul 19, 2020

    I edit all of the content and omit the theme, the intro and weather report since that tends to be redundant/repetitive.
    I do this is so that on repeated sequential replay (which I do for review, since I am somewhat thick), I can get straight into the subject without the need to fast forward.
    Your program should be on free to air media wherever that exists.
    Numpty from Brisbane.

  2. Johnye Ballenger Jul 19, 2020

    Dear Prof V, and the Esteemed TWiV Team,

    “Racan-yelling” (or was it spelled, Racanielling?) is a good one! And was there a mention of Ranting-iello earlier? Maybe Vincent ‘Ranting-and-Yelling’ Racaniello on a very bad day. Watch your blood pressure Professor, please.

    Boston and Cambridge, relatively speaking, are good and continue to gradually reopen with judicious speed on this sunny, sweltering 35C afternoon.

    Continued health and sanity to all. Johnye

    PS: Happy to hear Kentucky has reached out to you, Rich. Something to cheer about in my old bluegrass state.

  3. Low-cost Low cycle threshold – DrumBeat begins. BOOM!

    Starting the letter-writing campaign now that TWiV has officially endorsed and prioritized this cacophony. As soon as we all align to this beat ->Harmony, school and reopening will ensue.

    This might be the biggest learning and effect of TWiV in this pandemic – getting like-minded TWiVers to socially engage around this message.

    Thanks for this.

    In a side note… Brass is copper…. knew that already (didn’t catch it in listening – first time) but will never forget it now. The joy of mistakes.

  4. Richard Jul 19, 2020

    I would think that the raise in COVID-19 positive tests is because people decided that they were too young to catch this plague and die from it. While they might not die of it they will get it, get sick and then be able to pass it on for the next 40 days if not longer. Maybe that is the problem they get sick a little and pass it off as a sniffle.
    Go out among others spread it around as what they did last year when they had the flu.
    It has been a couple weeks since the beginning of July. Those so infected will get a slight cold, sweat a little then it the do not stay away from others survived. If they get real sick they will enter the hospital. I make very little contact with people and those that I do are older gray hair types. We are all masks and have been that way since March. We meet once a week. So far we are clean.
    If I get sick I’m of the age to get really sick. Be dead. When outside or in a enclosed room stay my 6 feet apart and masked.

    It seems that with the spike in number of cases being reported it looks a like a lot of people did not believe that they would get it. Now they know.
    Like most plagues, there are those who never get sick, get slightly sick, get really sick and a little percentage die of it.
    That is reality.

    Since I have not been sick of any illness in a very long time it could mean that I do get the various plagues that go around and never feel sick. Could it mean that I’m a spreader?
    Wow! I is dead man walking.
    A plot for a book then a movie.
    Chicago gave out 100,000 Chromebooks this last Spring to keep children learning. Each Chromebook cost 300 dollars. Where as a teachers salary in Chicago with benefits cost the city 80,000 dollars per year. With 32,000 Chicago teachers.
    What is the better deal. At one time decades ago PBS TV station taught college course on certain nights.
    With today’s WiFi systems a lot of students could be educated via WiFi.

  5. As regards the comorbidities detailed in the large UK study, you mentioned that hypertension tended to DEcrease risk beyond a certain age (70 or 80, I forget). Vincent mumbled that he didn’t understand that. I’m wondering if it might have something to do with the fact that that cohort is most likely to be taking a lot of ACE2 inhibitors. Comments?

    Love TWIV, thank you.

  6. Kathleen Buckley Jul 20, 2020

    We very much appreciate the high-quality sound on the podcast, thank you!!

  7. Leonard Berman Jul 20, 2020

    There appears to be a phenotype with extreme response to COVID. Is anyone collecting DNA samples from this cohort?

  8. Deb Hornbacher Jul 21, 2020

    Dear TWIV Folks -As an RN for a school district in southern Oregon, your podcast has been awesome information for me in providing comment on next school year. Particularly the episode that was on testing. Like some of you I wasn’t impressed with testing and was not sure how more of it was going to help really anything. I have been converted and have requested the clinic I’m hired by to research a quick test option for us.

    If you can share the name of the test or manufacture that was spoken of it would make it easier to steer our purchasing in the right direction without a lot of stumbling in the dark.

    At this point, there are only 2 sites that will test in our area without a doctors order. Our cases are currently low but have more than doubled since opening up. Most infections are in the younger population and more seen in the kids as well.

    I am new to TWIV and have been soaking up In the past month. I Was recommended your program by my husband (a finish carpenter) who had listened to a couple of lectures then found TWIV! Thank you so much for what you are doing.

    Love the friendly banter and everyone keeping Rack-n-yellin in line as he strays now and then. It is great to find science at this time that isn’t afraid of talking in a language that helps the rest of us process this pandemic and to then be able to share up to date info.

  9. Dan S. Jul 21, 2020

    Hi Team TWiV,

    Thanks for the great podcast. My credentials are not as strong as some of your listeners, but I was recently recognized as one of the top three virology, immunology, public health, AND infectious disease specialists at my family’s dinner table. Facing the associated responsibilities squarely, I have been applying the bean to solving for inexpensive, frequent testing. It occurs to me that politicians would become motivated if they saw benefits to the economy… so let us appeal to the wealthy industries that could be most helped by having this test available. Airlines: what if you could say that every person on every plane was not transmissible? Sports teams: Bring back the fans knowing everyone in the arena was safe. There are billions and billions of dollars to be made if American businesses can hasten a “new normal” riding on the back of a $1 spit test. A note to the PR professionals, too: you don’t have to say you are pushing this for selfish reasons: riding angles like “societal good,” and “safely returning students and teachers to schools” will bring you dividends along the way. So let’s get started!

  10. Yukie Jul 21, 2020

    Hi, everyone!
    I am very glad that your podcast is now not only with your voices but also with faces! I can also put on subtitles, which is very helpful for a layperson with English as a second language like myself to understand your science language.
    Of course, I won’t stop listening to your podcast even post corona pandemic!
    Keep safe!

  11. Samuel Survivor Jul 21, 2020

    20:30 MMWR Report on hairdressers * NOT * infecting their clients. I wonder if this purely anecdotal report will scale up. Perhaps it is a misleading anamoly and the story will be used to justify opening up non-essential close-contact enterprises which will impose drastic costs in terms of healthcare and premature deaths. Just sayin’

  12. Michelle Jul 21, 2020

    How does the price of a sailboat compare to doing international medical work in Uganda? Questions like this trouble me.

    • Silvia Pompei Jul 21, 2020

      Michelle, I suppose it’s always good to question everything, but my understanding is that you question Dr Griffin’s ethics and wonder whether he should allow himself the pleasure of sailing. You wonder if he should prioritize his financial obligations in favor of his non-profit Parasites Without Borders. Was that what you meant? If not, I am completely off target, ignore the rest of my message and apologies.


      I was saddened by your question, Michelle. I wonder if you would for a moment consider that we should also all live our life as fully as possible ad that that would be his way of doing so. If anything, my reaction was: “good for him, I am so impressed with how he manages to balance his professional and personal life” I felt inspired and I reminded myself I need to make a bigger effort to do the same.
      I don’t know the price of a sailboat, I don’t know if Dr Daniel Griffin owns one and what else he might own. All I know is that I am grateful that he’s there, reporting form the trenches, not as a journalist, but as an actual professional who is putting himself at risk for all of us. I have already learned so much from him and everyone else here on TWiV.
      Glad you asked though. Let me know if anything I said makes sense to you. On a side note: have you checked out ? It’s a beautiful website and I hope we all feel grateful for this kind of deep work and dedication that helps the whole planet, even considering their focus on Uganda right now. We are all in the same pale blue dot together, you Michelle, me and everyone else.
      Take care,



  13. Marvin Cosby Jul 21, 2020

    What does each of these terms mean COVID-19, CORONA and SARS- and could be included following (CoV-2 mRNA) in it’s name? Covid and Crononia were my original question are the same or different? We/nation seem to be talking about two illness but it’s the same. And I hear stuff like covid and or sars have been with us a long time (decades)….so try to give me clarifications….and I thank you in advance.

    • Kent Johnson Jul 25, 2020

      If I say anything wrong, please correct me. I don’t want to be responsible for spreading incorrect information — especially in a forum like this.

      Corona is a term that, in this context, refers to a large group of viruses. It includes the corona virus currently in the news, a few common cold viruses, and many other viruses that infect other animals.

      SARS-CoV-2 is the name for the specific virus that is causing the current pandemic. The SARS part refers to the fact that it is closely related to the SARS virus of 15+ years ago that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. That particular virus did not transmit well and seems to have disappeared. The current virus transmits well between people and is likely to be with us for quite some time. The CoV-2 refers to the fact that it is a Co(rona) V(irus) and that it is the 2(nd) SARS corona virus to be identified.

      COVID-19 is the name for the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. I think the difference between disease name and virus name is just to add to confusion ;-). I believe the name is an acronym for C(orona) VI(rus) D(isease) and (20)19, the year the outbreak started.

      mRNA is a version of RNA (a molecule similar to DNA) that is used as a template to make protein. In our cells, DNA instructions are used to make mRNA (messenger RNA). This message then travels to where the protein is made.

      I presume you are asking about mRNA in the context of a mRNA vaccine for SARS-CoV-2. One of the strategies being used to develop a vaccine is to give people the mRNA that codes for one of the proteins of the virus. The thought is that it will enter our cells and produce this protein (they can’t produce the virus, though). Once our cells produce this protein, they are hoping our immune system will see at as foreign and develop a response against it and as a result, the SARS-CoV-2 virus, too

  14. Michelle Maloney Aug 7, 2020

    May I ask where the link is for the speakers bios? I clicked on names but it sometimes brings me to their sites or other information.
    Thank you