Mark writes:

TWIV is well ahead of the national conversation on meaningful COVID-19 information/perspectives.

Keep up the great work — you and the team are making a real impact.

Charles writes:

Thanks for the reading. Here is a link with a picture.


Again thanks,


Barbara writes:

Dear Vincent,

The show with Dr. Fauci was very well done. I have watched it twice. Brilliant! It was interesting to witness the relationship/history among the three of you – your collective passion as scientists – knowledge, experience, expertise… and equally important, your humility, empathy, humanity. Most impressive. I have so much respect for each of you.

Question: How is  it that China has coasted at around 81-3k cases since March? Their line is completely flat and there has been very little in the news about Wuhan second waves. Perhaps they are doing something right that we can learn from. Or…?

Thank you and the TWIV team for your great work. There are a few of us in my circle who follow and discuss the show regularly – we are not scientists; we are artists, computer programmers, writers, teachers… You may also be interested to know that Malcolm Gladwell – a brilliant Canadian author – – is also a fan. I heard him mention TWIV during a CBC interview back in March or April. So cool. And don’t worry, we are not fair weather listeners. As you said in one of the shows around 600, “there are lots of other cool viruses out there…”  We can’t wait to hear about them!

My best,


River Road Creative

Luis writes:

Hi Vicent and Twivers dudes

The interview with Bernie Moss, blew me off my shoes.  what a character!!!!!! Amazing !!!! what an interview is a must see for all !!! amazing!!! a Bright Mind!!!

Only word I can express is  Thank You!


[vr: stuff you have to think HARD about can be really good!]

Rebecca writes:

Hello, wise ones of TWIV,

LOVE all you super smarty-pants people on this amazing show!

Very interested in the show with MIchael Mina (#640) and the “one buck test,” as an efficient and cheap substitute for the pcr test for possible use in wide-spread testing. When you say the current pcr test is “too sensitive” in the sense that it is picking up a level of virus [RNA] that is not actually infectious, does this imply that the reports of the 65000+ infections detected today in the USA would include lots of people who are not in fact infectious? It could be, of course, that they will be infectious in a few days or a week’s time, but perhaps not: what evidence is there that one can contract the virus at low levels and never actually spread it? 

I am curious, in part, because my institution is introducing a testing program where 25% of the campus will be tested each week—so everyone once per month. If this is going to be the standard pcr test, it seems both too much and too little. What do you think? 

Keep up the brilliant conversations! 

Rebecca, in Ohio

P.s. did Dickson do the nice picture of the virus sitting on the table behind Vincent in episode #642?

I think she might be referring to the quilted virus pillow made for us by Jolene Ramsey’s mother on Vincent’s sofa in his Columbia office. TWiV 502 at College Station.

Peter writes:

Dear TWIV,

I am the former Executive VP of Alza, the former Executive Director of the Stanford University Medical Center, the former Chairman of AmFar and a former ARPA Project Manager.

Your podcasts are the BEST single source of information on COVId.

I have just contributed to TWIV and would be pleased to contribute more.


A recent email that I sent to my friends:

Subject: Why is California failing so badly to stop the Covid 19 SARS-CoV-2 virus?

Date: July 13, 2020 at 10:32:30 AM PDT

To: Undisclosed recipients: ;

1 – Lack of Personal Responsibility

     We took a long walk this morning – 60% of the pedestrians were not wearing masks and 100% of the runners (who pose a much greater threat to others because of their high volume and rate of expiration) were not wearing masks.

2 – Lack of Leadership

     When was the last time you heard any local official (except Anna Eshoo!) speak out, speak loudly and speak clearly about what we all have to do to stop this virus?

3 – Lack of Strong, Clear, Consistent Messaging

     Where are the TV ads, newspaper ads, banners and signs exhorting all of us to do what we need to do to stop this killer?

4 – Lack of Testing and Contact Tracing

     California has the second largest number of cases in the US and ranks 14th in the rate of testing.

In many ways this virus is an IQ/EQ/economic status test and Darwin will prevail.

Barbara writes:

Hello TWIV!

I’ve been making cloth masks at home for all of my friends and coworkers. I just purchased cool glow-in-the-dark Halloween cloth, and I plan to start making masks for the holiday season as well. I know we’re going to be using them until at least Valentine’s Day. Do you think we’ll be touting pastel masks come spring 2021?




Research Technician

David Jentsch Laboratory

Binghamton University

Charles writes:

Following is what I am going to send to my GOP Senators.  Any suggestions?  If others would like to use it as a template, go for it.

PS: I really liked Dr. Fauci’s comment at 13:18 in 641 “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”

Dear GOP Senator;

When I have written to you in the past I have tried to see both sides of an issue.  When it comes to our national response to SARS-COV-2, I can only see a needlessly failed policy.  If you disagree, please explain the graph at:

It is a comparison of how we are doing with respect to the rest of the G8 countries.  The graph has been normalized for population differences.  I truly believe that the results are indefensible, but if you disagree, please try to convince me.

We cannot go back in time, so I am not going to dwell on what we did wrong.  Looking forward it is obvious we need more testing, a lot more.  I see that the FDA approved Quest’s COVID-19 test for ‘pooled’ samples just yesterday.  That is a step in the right direction, but it is not nearly enough.  We need Warp Speed/ACTIV to put money into really cheap and fast testing that does not require a lot of training to administer.  These tests just need to be good enough to catch those that are shedding infectious amounts of virus.  As Dr. Fauci said during a recent interview (link below) about this exact topic, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”.  According to Dr. Michael Mina (an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard), testing often with fast turnaround is much more important than accuracy (links below).

Bottom line, we need all of Congress to get involved in pushing/funding Warp Speed/ACTIV to develop SARS-COV-2 testing that can be performed by untrained or at the very most minimally trained personal, without special equipment, with the test performed on saliva, with results in about 10 minutes and cost of $1.00.

This is not pie in the sky.  We can do this and when we do, we can safely open businesses, schools and places of worship.  We have very competent federal and university research labs that can take on a large part of the development that private enterprise may not want to.

We are at war with SARS-COV-2 and we must bring all guns to bear on the virus.  It is not acceptable to allow so many to die and for the economy to be destroyed when we can prevent it.



Dr. Fauci link (13 minute mark): 

Dr. Mina links: 

and (all of it is really good, but if you are in a hurry skip to the 22 minute mark)

[vr: politicians need bullet points, not links to long podcasts.]

Lisa writes:

Dear TWIV,

Sorry to clog up your inbox. 

Attached is the final version of a letter that people can send to their local, state and federal representatives insisting that the government immediately licence, manufacture and distribute millions of rapid, $1, at home, COVID-19 tests.

I think that I’m going to send the letter to everyone I know (not just politicians) and ask people to share it with everyone they know.  And I’m also going to specifically ask my friends with school-aged children to forward the letter to teachers, principals, school board members and teacher union representatives.  

Thank you for your amazing podcast.  Best,


Both Charles’ and Lisa’ s letters are at

Put it in in such a way that it’s not editable on Google – people should download it and then modify.

Brian writes:

Thanks for all the team does. You’re a treasure.

First, Churchill may have said if you find yourself in hell, keep going. Harry Truman said “I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell.” Ain’t that the truth.

Now, to a minor issue. Vincent points out, correctly, that little selection force exists to modify SARS CoV-2. I know this is done to correct popular misconceptions.

There’s another misconception, not Covid related, that Vincent’s statement may accidentally promote. Many educated in the pre-genomics era learned “natural selection” is synonymous with Darwinian evolution. Vincent’s point that selection isn’t going to drive change in this virus may encourage the “all-powerful selection” view.

Researchers like Lynch and Koonin demonstrate that genetic drift and complexification are very common in the history of life. Especially with eukaryotes, but with all life and virus, too. Evolution without selection is no misnomer, it’s frequent.

What about SARS CoV-2? It’s got that proofreading exonuclease. More importantly, given 15 million global cases, if each contributes 10 million virions, there are 10^15 total. That’s too large a population for selection to act. Drift could happen, which takes time. It could get more or less virulent, less or more adapted to low or high pH. More likely something inconsequential.

Thank you, and please don’t take this as criticism. I’m sure you are aware of these factors, and just wanted to clear the air of “mutation fever.” For some, the takeaway might have been that only selection causes evolution.

I have been wrong about many things with this virus. About masks. About test sensitivity. I have one complaint about Tony Fauci. He said that in Feb. he did not recommend masks because he was worried about essential worker shortages. The research back then did not support mask use. It would have been better had he admitted that was the consensus then, and he was wrong. Then George Gao told Science the most important thing Europe and US did wrong was masks. I fear Dr. Fauci can’t mention this because he would be attacked. He and we were schooled by the head of China’s CDC, also a member of the US Academy of Sciences. This China conflict needs repair, if we plan on tackling climate change, or dealing with most problems.


Anne writes:

I have been watching TWIV on YouTube since April. I found it after finding your virology course for the spring semester. I took the whole course in a couple of weekends while painting my kitchen cabinets. I kept up with the first and some of the second lectures pretty well. Although I definitely would not pass the course, since I am “just” an attorney, I got a great sense of what the science is. It piqued my curiosity so much that I watch more courses on genetics and molecular biology. And of course, I started watching TWIV.

This podcast is my rock during this pandemic. I am grateful to be able to hear the latest updates from top scientists, rather than CNN.   It’s also great to hear the banter. The term Racanielling was genius.

I’m grateful to you and your team and guests. Thanks for all you do.



Gerry writes:

Greetings from Toronto where it was 27C, 80F today.

With several vaccines moving to stage 3, I have a vaccine question.

Some of the vaccines take a different approach to their methodology of delivering immunity.  For the purpose of my question, let’s assume the vaccines deliver just one or two years of immunity.

So it’s now 2022 or 2023 and I need to get my second vaccine.

Do I have to stick with the same type of vaccine I received initially?

Would it be beneficial to switch to a different kind of vaccine to give me extra immunity, or maybe just as an insurance policy?

Is it harmful to mix vaccines?

Could someone get two different types of vaccines in the same winter, again as insurance?

 A related question assumes that the Moderna and Oxford vaccine are both available in 2021.  How do I decide which vaccine to get (assuming I have a choice).

Thanks and keep up the good work.


Barry writes:

Hi TWiVers.

I am TWiVering with excitement.

Somehow I have managed to convince the entire population of Melbourne to wear masks starting this Thursday 23rd July as part of an impromptu city-wide study into mask-wearing and its effects on SARS Cov2 transmission. 😷

Recently I have been busy setting the example by wearing a mask at work and to my amazement it looks like I have set the example and NOT changed the culture – no one is wearing masks…failure!  Amazingly the Premier (State Governor) of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, must have heard of my efforts and has added his authority to my cause by mandating mask-wearing, not just in my workplace, but for the whole of Melbourne, starting Thursday 23rd July.  Can you believe it?!  One person can make a difference.  😁

What a great opportunity to see what mask-wearing does for transmission.  We Melbournians decided early in June to rest on our laurels and allow a near-zero daily case count to balloon into several hundred over June/July.  Finally the Premier put us back into lockdown (stage 3) two weeks ago.  Restaurants, theatres, and libraries are closed.  It seems most other shops and businesses are still open.  People still congregate at the shopping malls (not me).  This has resulted in Melbourne’s current seven day moving average to be a stable-ish 300 cases per day where as beforehand it was worryingly increasing.  Threats of stage 4 restrictions have been made by Dan if we cannot get our case numbers down.  Finally, following my example, mask-wearing has been mandated by Dan to begin Thursday.  Of course at my work place people are not wearing masks yet.  It seems they think it won’t be a good idea, or effective, to wear a mask until Thursday.  Joking aside I think adherence will be high and over the next few weeks we will clearly see how mask-wearing impacts the case-count in the absence of any other confounding changes in restrictions.

I will report again in a few weeks with the results of my Melbourne mask study.