TWiV 683: Two COVID-19 mRNA vaccines

November 19, 2020

On this episode of TWiV, mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer show over 90% efficacy, prothrombotic auto-antibodies in serum of COVID-19 patients, and the whereabouts of SARS-CoV-2 in the human body.

Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Rich Condit, Kathy Spindler, and Brianne Barker

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Weekly Picks 1:43:25

BriannePicture a Scientist
KathyColors of the Moon and Word that hasn’t changed
RichNASA YouTube channel
VincentLaura Splan science art

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MonaAd5 vector and podcast with ImmunityBio founder

Intro music is by Ronald Jenkees

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14 comments on “TWiV 683: Two COVID-19 mRNA vaccines

  1. Manuel Andres Martinez Munoz Nov 19, 2020

    I think is important to highlight the always ignored role of phospholipids in coagulation. The scaffold of coagulation complexes are the phospholipids, most of the time is taken for granted, but this is the reason for the posttranscriptional amino acid modification of the gamma-carboxylated residues via vitamin K (AKA warfarin substrate) if there were no membranes clotting cascade would take decades rather than seconds/minutes produce fibrin.
    Antiphospholipid syndrome can be very dramatic and fatal, but the truly scary massively clotting pathologies are those that release phospholipids membranes into circulation, such as paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria and falciform anemia clotting crisis.
    It would be interesting if circulating microvesicles with factor V, such as those found in active cancer have any place in this pathology.

  2. Attila Maczak Nov 19, 2020

    I loved this episode so much!

  3. Richard Cornell Nov 19, 2020

    Asking if more people will be interest in science. The National Geographic Magazine a issue back stated that 25% of the adults in America believe that the earth is 6000 years old and that the Bible was directly written by God.
    They all voted for Trump.
    They also are told that everything around us was designed by a unknown intelligence usually a God. That nothing happens if God does not will it.
    What we know as science is wrong and what they know as science is the only truth.
    Most will not mask.

  4. Dear Vincent and Rich, as I heard you discuss the many who had contributed to the in vitro transcription system, I could not help but feel “here we go again”. The unassuming Dr. Eugene T. Butler III Ph.D., Black scientist would get passed over once again.
    Talk to Michael Chamberlain Professor Emeritus U.C. Berkley to verify my statements.
    The first in vitro transcription system was designed and produced by Eugene as a ‘what if’ project while he was a postdoc in Tom Maniatis’s lab at Caltech working on globin genes (
    On a gentleman’s agreement Eugene shared his first SP6 plasmid with Doug Melton. Doug took it, modified it, and ran with it and has since been noted as the guy who developed the system ( It is unclear whether he has ever given Eugene credit for the initial idea, design and production of the first SP6 in vitro system.
    There should be others who can, if they so desire, confirm my statements.
    As you talk about diversity, I would hope that you can also ensure that credit goes to the Black scientists who chose not to wrangle with the system to be recognized for their contributions to science.
    Ask Tom about the in vitro SP6 RNA polymerase system and the role Eugene played.
    The T7 and Gemini vectors came later.
    I hope that as accolades and prizes are being awarded, fair-minded scientists will speak up for then young Black man Eugene T Butler III, who has focused on ‘What if?’ rather than the currency of science: ‘the numbers of LPUs- least publishable units’ , and ‘the NYCD’- names you can drop’.
    Enjoy your program especially when you are not name dropping and expecting your audience to be as familiar with these names as you are. It is good to name drop if you add specifically what the person named has contributed to science.
    Which reminds me, you mentioned Kornberg for the multiple reactions scale up but you did not mention Okazaki (who actually performed the feat).

  5. Kate Mackenzie Nov 19, 2020

    Dear Dr. R et. al,
    Love your show. Thank you for making science accessible to all who are curious and open-minded and want to learn new things.
    I’m a loyal listener and understand that there are different types of people. I need to be patient and bear things that I find annoying.
    However, after listening to this show, #683, I have to finally vent. Having Allan Dove not constantly interrupting people and “adding his 2 cents” was a welcome pleasure. Recently, I have found it harder and harder to listen to your show with him. How much fun it was to actually get to hear Dr. Barker speak and also yourself Dr. R. I thought what a nice conversation this was where everyone got to speak equally without anyone trying to show off, which is what I find Allan Dove does. Listen to me I know so much. I appreciate how much Dr. Condit, Barker, Spindler, and you admit what you don’t know. Also, how much you all respect Dr. Barker’s expertise in Immunology. I like how you all ask her to share her knowledge. If Allan Dove was on this show, I know he would have butted in even if it was Dr. Barker you were asking for to speak. I know this because in other episodes he has done this.
    I guess if I want to keep learning, I have to get over Allan Dove’s interruption or just only listen to the shows without him. Is it possible to just give him his own show where he can talk to his pleasure.
    Please keep doing shows like this one where everyone listens and gives time for their colleagues to speak.

    Thank you, with much respect,


    • Rosemary in Sedona Nov 20, 2020

      Your diagram doesn’t show the cardiovascular system to be among the hardest hit. This despite what we learned in Podcast #669 from the two critical care doctors at M.I.T. I checked after listening to that show and found several research papers that showing how the endothelial cells were getting infected during the viral phase. We also learned in subsequent podcasts that the heart was being compromised by infected cells. Wouldn’t the virus have to reach that location via the blood?

  6. Vincent no maskie Nov 19, 2020

    I just cant wait to get injected with this shit!!! Hopefully it will make my nuts atrophy! Or maybe cause blindness or a chronic migraine! Goodie!!!

  7. Greg Egan Nov 20, 2020

    Regarding percent efficacy mathematics, these trials in my mind should give 50% of the participants the placebo and 50% the vaccine. That’s the only way they can get a percentage of efficacy.

    If they were for example to only give 1000 participants the vaccine and 29,000 participants the placebo then the odds would be 29 to 1 for the placebo people to get sick. that would pretty much ensure 97% of the people getting sick would be on the placebo.

    I think the math was discussed about 10 minutes in. Always love the podcasts,I have not contributed yet but I will go to parasites without Borders when I wake up tomorrow. Good night 🙂

  8. Kent Maurice Nov 20, 2020

    55″ F In Modesto California,
    First off, THANK you for that you guys do!! I had to do many of Vincents videos to get up to date on the virus, been a few years since I graduated.
    Question; I have been wondering about the clotting issues with SCV2, like many others… could megakaryocytes perform their emperipolesis on SCV2 virus and change the membranes of the MKs and platelets, and therefore lead to more pronounced clotting? I wonder if the MKs vWF is also changed. I would call them MkETS, since METS is already taken…. vWF from MKs are different from endothelial cells, and seem to have issues with causing more of heparin resistance. Can the determination of the origin of vWF be identified?

  9. Karen Nov 21, 2020

    Thank you all.
    Here’s a Swiss study of a patient with skin rashes, suspected of COVID-19, but tested PCR negative for SARS-CoV-2, nasopharyngeal swabs. But a skin biopsy qPCR tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

    SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing of skin for COVID-19 diagnostics: a case report

  10. Scott Nov 21, 2020

    “We have identified that the selenium atom of EBSELEN strongly interacts with some groups typically present in proteins via the chalcogen bond, a weak bonding that has been studied for years in our laboratories; this binding may contribute to the inhibition of the virus replication. This represents an important step forward in the fight against COVID-19. ” Says Prof. Giuseppe Resnati of the Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering “Giulio Natta” of the Politecnico di Milano.

  11. William R Moore Nov 26, 2020

    Will any of the various vaccine technologies that will be used to produce the various COVID-19 vaccines be usable by people with compromised immune systems (for instance a organ transplant recipient who has to take drugs to suppress their immune system so it won’t reject the transplanted organ? I understand that these folks must avoid live virus vectored vaccines like the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. But, what about some of these new vaccines like the two mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna? Or, do you think all COVID-19 vaccines should be avoided by these folks and if so, why?

  12. On viral shedding and organs involved.

    Multiple reports have RNA detection in sewage giving a signal a week in advance of “testing” and symptomatic admission to hospitals. Gut, stools, urine, mucus, kidneys… Is there shedding of virus or dismantled virus in the incubation phase when viruses are shed into the host and do not colonize well enough to be “interesting” and easy to detect/sample for any test?

    What is known about the incubation phase that can be 1-13 days long? Where does it hide and multiply? Does it hide behind mucus plugs in lungs and upper respiratory sinus congestion? Is it rampant in the gut and kidneys? Is it active in arterial and venous plaque (pre-existing condition)? Scar and inflamed tissue?

    How does the virus migrate to saliva for effective testing? Is the virus active in the mouth and saliva glands, gums (gingivitis) or is it caught via respiration.

    With luck we may never know with a well executed vaccination program. With bad luck we will need to know.

    Influenza case reduction… will we learn more about how flu is shared. Children not in school? Surfaces in public (hand sanitizer), distancing, masks., what works best?

    Influenza opens a question for school opening and closing criteria with community health pressure on a common resource (hospitals). If K-12 is a vector path influenza (testing) is important in the open/close criteria. It does not matter what fills the first 99.9% of the hospital beds. What matters most(?) is overflow demand for staffing and equipment (Yes PPE).

    On weather… doors and windows get shut and HVAC run for both cold and hot weather.
    Thus two HVAC seasons where minimum air exchange is a cost optimization.
    Radon abatement in the Reading Prong region of NJ brought thermal exchange to allow retrofit venting of radon rich basement air. New construction/homes have barriers.
    My favorite burger shop has a serious air flow up and out over the grill and fry station. If that air flow was managed limited seating at the counter might be safe if the rest of the dining area was vacant. It does make workers preparing take out safer than diners.

    53°F and Sunny; Air Quality Index 41