Sebastian writes:

Спутник-Вакцина, or Sputnik-Vaktsina, short Спутник-В, or Sputnik-V 🙂

Thanks for your marvelous work!!!!!

Cheers from Vienna, Austria,

Lyuba writes:

Dear all,

I wanted to clarify regarding  Sputnik V. V in this context is not a Roman number. It is a first letter of Victory or Vaccine.


Dagfinn writes:

Dear Twivers!

Greetings from a sunny and freezing cold morning in Oslo, Norway @ -9.5˚C.

While watching Twiv #709, I noticed you enjoy ad hoc poetry, and that someone had posted an alternate version of Mr. Sandman. In an inspired moment, I took the liberty of making my own version, which is enclosed. Note especially the third verse, and please excuse my ” licentia poetica.” (Actually, many years ago, I was a musician. I tried to have some of my old friends in a barber shop group record this for you, but unfortunately, they are not allowed to meet during lockdown…sorry about that!)

Here’s my shot at Mr. Sandman:

Mr Labman, bring me a gene
That makes a brilliant new protein
Make it express a brand new receptor,
That functions like a SARS-CoV 2 deceptor!
Labman – make a vaccine,
Make it effective, so that I can dream
Of great immunoglobuline
Mr Labman, make a vaccine

Mr Labman, your protein
Will have a binding site like
The world’s never seen
To make the spike bind tight and be useless
Then make our sterilizing efforts ruthless
Labman, virus are prone
To be degraded in a lysosome
So synthesize mRNA
That will make disease go away

Mr Labman, make the vaccine
Be good to Spindler and Condit and th’team
Adverse effects be minute and mellow
So Twivs still come from Vincent Racaniello
Labman, it would be great
To be immunized before it’s too late
So please turn on the magic gene
Mr Labman,  make a vaccine

Best regards,
-Dagfinn Rosnes (good luck pronouncing that!)

Bill writes:

If the mRNA vaccines use the identical spike building piece of mRNA, in theory they should create the identical injected antigen, except for any variation in the suspension material between manufacturers – is this true?

There have been a few inadvertent cases where people received two doses from different manufacturers – has there been any followup on the efficacy in the patient by any detailed analysis?

There are other methods, via inactivated virus and also via a virus vector.

So a situation might arise with one mRNA dose and one inactivated or vector based dose – the same question arises?

The Russian Sputnik vaccine is vector based, but uses two different vectors for dose 1 and dose 2 – hopefully eliminating the risk that a robust response to dose one might not be capable of neutralizing the second dose before it is capable of eliciting its boosting effect. I see that few countries have adopted the Russian vaccine. Cold war memories may have dismissed this badly named vaccine in the minds of many, possibly with no proper basis except for this bias. Are we improperly tarring Russia with past prejudices?

Has there been any arms length assessment of the efficacy of this Russian vaccine in the countries where it has been adopted?

How well did Russia make the billions of doses of assorted vaccines used for many other diseases over the past ~25 years or so since the USSR fell? 


Mark writes:

Hello Vinny and the TWiVs,

In several shows recently Vincent has talked about New York City’s vaccination against smallpox in 1947. It is still a world-class accomplishment. Four to five million people vaccinated in two weeks? Wow!

Did you know that there is a film noir based on this? The title is “The Killer That Stalked New York” which is a 1950 b+w movie that unites a treasury agent and an emergency doctor cast into doing “good old fashioned shoe leather epidemiology” — if I may borrow a recurring phrase from TWiM’s Michael Schmidt — who must locate a femme fatal who is smuggling diamonds and unknowingly spreading smallpox virus in Manhattan.

At the time of this email this 90 minute movie may be viewed on YouTube. Here is the URL:

My favorite line in the movie is “use everything short of a gun to get people vaccinated.”

Stay healthy.


Pamela writes:

Hello Team Twiv, 

Thank you for providing me with a reliable (and entertaining) source to turn to regarding all things Covid-19.  As with many clinicians, that is all I have thought about for the last 11 months.  I myself had many questions regarding the safety of the mRNA vaccines, but your explanation of the data and science reassured and convinced me that it is safe and effective and I should get it.  Now I am trying to do my part to help educate our community.  One question has come up as we have started learning more about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  

Part of our education regarding the mRNA vaccines has been to reassure families that the mRNA does not enter the nucleus, degrades quickly and does not interact with our DNA.  Now with the J&J vaccine, it IS a DNA vaccine and DOES enter the nucleus.  Can you please explain HOW the DNA vaccine works and specifically since it enters the nucleus and is DNA, does it interact with our human DNA?  Also, how long does the viral DNA persist in our cells?   Maybe you already have a show in the works discussing the J&J vaccine more in depth or maybe I missed this somewhere.  I do listen in snippets throughout my day and it also took me awhile to realize that the Bluetooth on my phone was playing your show in my freezing cold car as it warmed up in the mornings so I likely missed 10 minute chunks from multiple episodes.  Don’t worry, I won’t let that happen anymore 😊  Thanks for sharing your incredible knowledge with the world!!! 

Pam Hannen PA-C
Physician Assistant – School Based Health Clinics

Where the temperature is a toasty 12 degrees F today!

Adenoviruses ‘R Us

Omar writes:

Hello and thank you for your continued efforts to inform inquiring minds.

I noticed the EUA for bamlanivimab specifies the patient be within 10 days of symptom onset. 

Is bamlanivimab a bad idea for people with Long COVID? I haven’t found much on this topic and would like to benefit from your collective wisdom. What are the options for long COVID sufferers. 

Asking for a friend.

Best regards,


Hillarie writes:

Dear TWIV team, 

Thank you for all of the time you are taking to review COVID-19 literature and answer questions. I have been an avid listener since February, and I will be long after this pandemic has resolved… whenever that may be. 

When listening to TWIV 715, I heard Rich comment that Johnson and Johnson made a choice to go with one shot, vs two like Moderna and Pfizer. I wonder if this was really a conscious choice, or really that antibody mediated immunity clearing the adenovirus vector is going to prevent boosting to SPIKE in a second shot. I haven’t reviewed Johnson and Johnson’s prior data, but I worked with development of AAV vectors for gene therapy for several years, and one of our primary concerns was pre-existing immunity to vector preventing delivery of the message (in that case). 

Is it possible that a boost using the same vector was simply not possible? 



Karen writes:

Hello TWIV-folks.

I have sent a few missives to you over the past year. I had not realized how hooked I would become on y’all and how much I would learn. Thank you for both — I think [wink]

A short story about solid public health practices:

My child lives in Thurston County in Washington State. They created a small pod of others who agreed to act responsibly and get together from time to time. Two Saturdays ago, the pod made a wonderful meal, drank some good beer, and played Settlers of Catan together. Two days later, a roommate of one of the pod members tested positive for COVID. Even though they did not have symptoms, they had known about a close encounter they had, and had not taken precautions.

Subsequently, this is what happened.

1. The one who tested positive was moved into a COVID hotel free of charge. Until they are no longer contagious, they will stay there.

2. The roommate who did test positive has been asked to quarantine for N days — I assume 10-14. Groceries are brought to the house AND they are immediately given unemployment benefits.

3. The others who were secondary to the roommate have not been required to quarantine but are asked to be more diligent and are being tested regularly.

I do not live in a county, or state for that matter, that has taken SARS-CoV-2 transmission as seriously. I am thrilled my child lives in such a county/state.

Thought you might appreciate a story of a place with solid public health policies.

Finally, Dickson and Vincent should know that this child adored finding and listening to This Week in Parasitism. They are working in eco-agriculture — very PNW (Pacific Northwest) type of work — and will soon be headed back to do additional graduate work. Could be parasites will be in their future!


Anna writes:


I really appreciate all the information you provide and thank you for your expertise.

When the vaccine data talks about efficacy, does it imply that the vaccine is effective with or without mitigations like masks and distancing?

Thank you so much,


Brent writes:

I’m a family medicine physician in Tulsa Oklahoma. I greatly appreciate your updates as they have guided me through this with my patient. The amount of bad information is astonishing and you have done an incredible job! Not only do I work in the outpatient setting in a clinic but also go to the nursing home. The federal government bought up the first group of the BinaxNOW and have deployed them in the nursing homes routinely for the past several months. I get tested once or twice a week and every single patient as well as workers do as well. It works REMARKABLY well at picking up symptomatic and pre-symptomatic infections.  In my own office it detected five or six of my employees’ [infections] one or two days prior to symptom onset. They are very simple and easy to use and if they were packaged slightly differently to be used at home very easily with a second confirmatory test. I’ve been pulling my hair out for six months wondering why the federal government has not approved these for at home use. I hope the new admin. can get this figured out.

By the way, even though this test can be used as an anterior nares to make it easier it is easy to insert it into the middle turbinate or posterior nasal pharynx because the swab is small enough. We have everyone self swab better employees as this is actually easier and more comfortable once you get the technique down. I have swapped over 30 times and at this point I have very little to no discomfort. I always do a deeper swab because I think I’m getting a better test.  Just wanted to give some real world feedback. Keep up the good work!!!

Brent Wakefield, M.D.

Earl writes:

Dear Dr. Racaniello,

I wanted to point out the great pins made by this company (no financial interest). I especially liked the “I enjoy not having Polio” pin and thought of you.

I’m thinking of buying some for my wife.

Longtime listener with 30+ years, experience in virology, waiting on a Fedex delivery of two isolates of SARS-CoV-2 so I can drive them over to the BSL-3 lab in Stillwater (main campus).

I have TWIVs 713 and 714 queued up and ready for the drive and lab work.

One of the most useful things I find about the podcast is finding out what isn’t known. I’ve spent a lot of time searching pubs for answers to questions and when you say it isn’t known, on your podcast, it saves me a lot of time.

Thank Amy for her enterovirus advice, from several years ago.

Best wishes,


Earl L. Blewett, Ph.D.
Professor of Microbiology
Biochemistry and Microbiology
Oklahoma State University – Center for Health Sciences