Pre-comment – Thanks for TWIV.
In a recent TWIV, I listened to your discussion about global warming and our prospects.
I got the idea that there was a categorical statement that the best we can do is slow down or stop the warming of the planet. We cannot turn the process around.
I disagree with that assessment.
Of course, what we need to do we will unfortunately not do, simply because we, as a nation, lack the political will to tackle long-term problems until it is essentially too late.
OK, but what could we do?
Yes to planting more trees. However living here in the NW rain forest we are witnessing the turning of years of lumber growth into CO2. Eating less beef would help too. But again, these are only mitigation strategies.
The essential thing we need to do is to generate power. We need to generate LOTS of power. All of our solar panels and recycling are just tinkering at the edges. We (the people of the world) need to generate more power than we consume so that we can begin to undo the years of damage.
In reality, there are only two possible power sources for the scale of power that we need. These are Fusion and Fission.
Despite recent advances in fusion, we are a long way off from that reality.
Fission on the other hand is quite do-able.
With fission we have three possible approaches, with each having a variety of nuanced design options. The three are:
Burners – burning U235. Nearly all reactors in operation today use this approach. Light Water Reactors, Boiling Water Reactors.
Fast Breeders – turning U238 into Plutonium 239 and fissioning that isotope. There are a number of designs in the works, including one funded by the Gates foundation, or possibly by Bill Gates without the foundation. Since the early 1970s the US has put a lot of $$ into research on fast breeders. For a variety of reasons their potential remains un-realized.
Thermal Breeders – turning thorium 232 into Uranium 233 and fissioning that isotope. Again there are a number of designs in the works. To me the most interesting is the LFTR – Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor. This reactor has the fissionable fuel in a liquid state, dissolved in a salt of Lithium Fluoride and Beryllium Fluoride. The fact that the fuel is in a liquid state makes re-processing in a continuous manner possible. There are other benefits including inherent safety (as long as the laws of physics continue to apply), a high heat by-product making possible turning sea water into fresh water or removing CO2 from sea-water AS A BY PRODUCT OF THE REACTION.
The US never put much money into the thermal breeder program. None-the-less Oak Ridge ran one on a shoestring for a number of years without incident and gained a lot of knowledge on the subject.
Suggestion – listen to a number of you-tube videos by Kirk Sorensen. Also one called “Energy Cheaper than Coal”, which discusses the reality that the poor will use coal to save themselves unless we can provide a cheaper option.
Of course, I am not suggesting that Kirk Sorenson is the only source of information. If you listen to some of these videos he will go into source data, including a trove of old documents rescued from a closet at Oak Ridge and scanned to PDF for all to read.
The upshot of my comment – we can save the world with nuclear power. Unfortunately the people who believe in science don’t believe in nuclear since all they know about nuclear power is the light water reactor, and the people who don’t believe in science – well no further comment required.
We can save the world. Will anyone listen?
Interesting paper from Israel now reports Delta variant Rt of less than 1.4 for all classes of patients, vaccinated and unvaccinated. Could this be a different Delta variant? Nope: Just different behavior. No gigantic motorcycle rallies in Israel! All the media hype and “medical pundits” announcing Rt of 6-8 are obviously wrong.
Actual data backs you up.
You guys remain my heroes for the very best COVID information. Kudos and many, many, many thanks.
I found the UK chart posted on the CNN website very interesting. I would like to see a similar chart for the U.S. It shows cases, deaths and vaccination progress all together. I wish it would show masking, distancing, etc. as well, but I do know that the mid-July UK peak coincided with the relaxation of community preventive measures.
From this, I conclude that >50% community vaccination prevents deaths (and probably hospitalizations).
I also conclude that >60% community vaccination does not prevent community cases. Some of these cases will be among the unvaccinated, and some will come from vaccinated.
A dedicated fan learning tons about viruses!
Peter A. Reinhardt (he/him/his)
Director, Office of Environmental Health & Safety
Your listeners who play wind instruments might enjoy this Science News article on the science of keeping wind instruments from spreading the coronavirus. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/coronavirus-covid-music-wind-instruments-spread-transmission
I initially found TWiV around December 2019 by serendipitously stumbling upon Vincent’s virology resources. I was pleasantly surprised to see the podcasts pick up once SARS-CoV-2 tumbled on to the scene, which has kept me both informed and entertained in the lab throughout my first year as a grad student in molecular microbiology.
During TWiV 792, Vincent and Kathy were discussing the issue of public vaccine hesitancy; Vincent insists some of this hesitancy is politically driven, but Kathy responded that she believes it is “…a historical human nature issue”. I’m curious what Kathy means by this, as she didn’t have the chance to explain her thinking on this.
I think we need to ask – what gave rise to the vaccine hesitancy of the last year-and-a-half? The 3 most pervasive moments of anti-vaccine sentiment in history lack continuity, in that they emerged independently. The initial anti-vaccine movements of the 1800s arose as a reaction to compulsory vaccination; however, those groups died out long ago…of smallpox. The anti-vaccine crowds of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s arose in the wake of disgraced former physician Andrew Wakefield’s attempt to defraud the public by fabricating data linking the MMR combination vaccine with autism; of course, the progeny of that moment are still around, but did they seed the current vaccine hesitancy of 2020/2021?
I’m skeptical of this because much of the sentiment against vaccines today has nothing to do with MMR or autism. Rather, I think the modern anti-vaccine movement has arisen out of the uniquely American phenomenon of stubbornly refusing to do things in the best interest of oneself and/or others simply because government is the one issuing the policy recommendations. There’s a large subset of the US who think they are rugged individualists and fantasize about being part of some burgeoning movement that could, one day, overthrow a perceived “tyrannical” government. In reality, they function more as a reactionary, collective “id” that can be easily drafted by ideological allies in politics or media (e.g. Rand Paul, Tucker Carlson, Eric Weinstein) to spread misinformation and propaganda. I think this is demonstrated, at least in part, by the fact that the majority of misinformation disseminated to and recited by the anti-vaccine people is broadcast by such political channels, rather than originating from some grass-roots opposition or instinctual skepticism toward vaccines. Remember, the majority of these people were not vehemently opposed to vaccines or mandates prior to COVID19. Most of them would just have their children complete the vaccination schedule as normal and move on. The current incarnation is largely the result of astroturfing and are ideologically homogenous.
On the upside, most of these people will just cave in and get vaccinated once the inconvenience of being unvaccinated outweighs the desire to stubbornly refuse it. I think history bears this out – for example, the inconvenience of passing through the TSA checkpoint is still outweighed by the desire to fly.
Thanks for all you do to help make microbiology, immunology, and virology more digestible by the general public. Cheers to the next year of science and learning!
I am a veterinary immunologist teaching and researching at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine outside Oslo in Norway. First of all: I want to give my whole-hearted thanks for your tireless effort to inform deep and wide about everything viral! Since the pandemic outbreak, you have been my primary go-to source for updated information. I have been enlightened and entertained, and not the least: Learned a lot of virus immunology, which often finds its way into my own tuition! Thanks also for your other podcasts, of which IMMUNE is of course my favorite!
I’d like to comment on Episode 791 where you discussed a study in Rhesus macaque monkeys, where T-cells were depleted using antibodies, yet the monkeys recovered from Covid infection. Apparently T-cells should then not have been important for the recovery.
I did not hear you mentioning resident memory T-cells. These cells reside for a long time in different tissues, including in respiratory organs. A recent work shows that in mice, these T-cells may accumulate and may eventually comprise as much as 25% of the cells in a given tissue: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03351-3
The same group of researchers have found that these cells may in fact be stimulated upon infection, recirculate, expand and find their way back into the original tissue: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41590-020-0607-7.
In the macaque study, antibodies were shown to efficiently deplete CIRCULATING T-cells, but to my best understanding, an antibody injection would not be able to reach all T- cells residing deep inside the tissues. Thus, a large pool of resident T-cells could have remained in these monkeys, been stimulated in the experimental infection, and contributed to disease protection. If so, the study cannot be a conclusive proof of T-cells being dispensable for disease protection.
Please keep up your tireless work, and keep it auditive – I always listen to you while doing something else, and I really appreciate when you make some extra effort to explain what figures say!
PS: You keep saying that mice are not people. I do agree, so we try to bring mice into a more real-world situation, by raising them in large natural habitats full of soil, animal manure and other farmyard ingredients: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2020.615661/full
So does the Masopust group mentioned above, whom we collaborate with; they let laboratory mice spend time with pet shop mice who bring in microbes from the outside world. Both of our groups find that naturalized mice acquire a more human-resembling immune traits. They are even better protected from colon cancer! (To be published.)
Associate Professor, Head of unit
Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Dear TWiV team,
You’ve mentioned several times on the show that cheap home antigen tests never became a reality.
Living in Germany, I’ve been somewhat puzzled whenever you guys say this. Here, a pack of five rapid antigen tests costs 3.75€. This is cheap enough that most people could afford to test themselves daily, if they cared to do so.
The other day, I looked up how much home antigen tests cost in the US: much to my surprise, a 2-pack costs $25!
I’ve tried to figure out why rapid antigen tests cost so much in the US, compared to Germany, but I can’t find any explanation online.
This seems like the kind of thing that Alan Dove would know about. If there’s any explanation for the massive price difference, I’d be interested to know.
Thanks for producing this great podcast!
P.S.: Here’s a link where you can see prices for home antigen test kits in Germany: https://www.dm.de/search?query=antigentest%20corona&searchType=product.
Hey Vincent, Jay here. On your last episode you stated while on a flight looking down at the ground you wondered why rivers meander. Well if you have an hour and we already know you have a knack for critical thinking this link should get you into the ballpark. This is another professor in my opinion that deserves a seat at the round table of science communication. He has an infectious teaching style complete with old-school chalk board discussions. He has an enthusiasm in his presentation that hooks you. If you were to ever have a roundtable discussion about science communication with other communicators from other disciplines I would suggest him with others like Neil Degrasse Tyson. His lectures are called Geology of the pacific northwest with Nick Zentner and also has a PBS Series in the Seattle area. My first introduction to Nick was Supervolcanos of the pacific Northwest and I have been hooked ever since. Again I hope you enjoy and agree.
Thanks and as always keep up the great communication!!!! JAY
Greetings Vincent and Twivers,
I am just a humble molecular biologist on the job market who is reluctant to share current niche meteorological realities owing to any ire I might provoke with this request.
A friend recently shared a non-science podcast with me that did a deep dive on recent Ivermectin retractions ( ‘Behind the Bastards’, link below ).
In addition to being humorous, the host and guests enumerated problems with preprints, meta-analyses that include outliers and/OR studies that are later retracted, and conflicts of interest. The host also named serial retraction offenders ( e.g. Pierre Kory, MD ), and cited articles and journals regarding retractions, revisions, and removals.
The cited journals don’t take a stand on Ivermectin, but they do make clear their position on studies lacking appropriate controls, and studies based on fraudulent data. To be clear, the aforementioned journals did the very least they could do.
A couple takeaways from all the above are outrageous to me, and I hope you all can use your platforms to thwart these in future:
#1) THREE published meta-analysis on Ivermectin for COVID included a preprint study out of Egypt that WAS NOT YET peer-reviewed and later deemed fraudulent and removed from the preprint server ( Research Square preprint server, links below ).
Meta-analyses should NEVER be allowed to include studies that are not peer-reviewed! Biostatisticians stay WAY TOO BUSY flooding journals with re-analyses to pad their CVs IMHO, and this unscrupulous, fame-seeking decision by three independent publication-hungry groups may have had devastating, global consequences. How each elected to do this in 2021 after the last year we had is COMPLETELY beyond the pale.
* additional PSA: please tell your students and postdocs ONLY to cite primary research articles in their dissertations and manuscripts ( i.e., do not cite review articles without primary data back-up ! )
#2) Rather than being buried at the end of a publication or preprint – conflicts of interest, funding sources, and maybe previous retractions for authors should be listed RIGHT UNDER author affiliations.
I feel this should be especially be true on preprint servers like BioRxiv ( a Chan-Zuckerberg joint, btw ), but why not on Pubmed?.
To illustrate the point, Pierre Kory, MD, made a statement to the Senate claiming Ivermectin is a miracle drug for COVID-19 ( link below). Kory is listed as the first-author of a BIOSTATISTICAL META-ANALYSIS of Ivermectin studies published in the American Journal of Therapeutics that includes the debunked Egypt study that was removed from the preprint server above.
This Kory et al AJT article has been cited 37 times at the time of this writing, AND:
(a) includes no correction notice indicating in the inclusion of the flim-flam Egypt study;
(b) lists no conflicts of interest for Kory, who heads the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) also allied with a ‘British Ivermectin Recommendation Development’ (BIRD) Group comprised of self-proclaimed ‘highly published, world-renowned critical care physicians and scholars’ ( link to FLCCC and BIRD Egypt study exclusion comments and self-aggrandizing proclamations below );
(c) is the only meta-analysis or biostatistical paper whatsoever to be authored by Kory, who is an MD w/no record of publications in bio/statistics ;
(d) was rejected by Frontiers in Pharmacology ( link below ) on the basis of unsupported claims after further review following provisional acceptance [ later published in AJT ] .
#3) Not for nothing, of Kory’s 51 publications currently in Pubmed:
a) one article title includes the word, ‘Corrigendum’ ( typo; not a COVID paper );
b) one article title includes the word, ‘Reply’;
c) two article titles include the word, ‘Rebuttal’;
d) two article titles include the word, ‘Counterpoint’;
d) five article titles end in a question mark;
e) five articles are ‘Case Studies’ ( single patient );
f) six are ‘Editorial’ articles;
g) eight are ‘Comment’ articles’
h) eleven are review articles ( cherry-picked?);
i) nineteen include a total of 3 or fewer authors ( including Kory )
j) six include a total of 2 or fewer authors ( including Kory )
Kory is a busy MD who knows how to juke the ‘publish or perish system’, and who also doesn’t have a lot of peers in the primary research community. Only quantity not quality for this ‘highly published, world-renowned critical care physician’ for those who didn’t hear it twice the first time.
I sincerely apologize for the length of this rant, but if you don’t want to wade into the troubles with meta-analyses and preprints, I hope you can at least clue listeners into the ‘Beyond the Bastards’ pod on Ivermectin, and maybe mention Kory’s troubling involvement.
The worst thing I can imagine is that Ivermectin is actually helpful for some subset of the population at some stage of its interactions with SARS-CoV-2, but none of the researchers who can best elucidate this possibility will get support to do so because quacks, unscrupulous and publication-hungry statisticians, and shite journal editors have so sullied the field.
With gratitude and esteem,
Links, or better yet – just have a listed to the ‘Beyond the Bastard’ pod on Ivermectin!:
original Ivermectin study out of Egypt that was never peer-reviewed and removed from preprint server, Research Square:
Accepted meta-analysis ( 1 of 3 ) published in American Journal of Therapeutics authored by Kory et al that has NOT noted included Egypt prepint take-down at time of this writing, previously rejected after provisional acceptance by Frontiers:
Link to Frontiers statement cited in The Scientist re Kory rejection, previous Ivermectin debunkings a la Surgisphere:
Kory’s FLCCC and BIRD statement on the Egypt study ( plus proclamation of renown):
Accepted meta-analysis ( 2 of 3 ) published in American Journal of Therapeutics (again!) authored by Byrant et al that has NOT noted included Egypt prepint take-down at time of this writing:
Accepted meta-analysis ( 3 of 3 ) published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases that HAS only noted included Egypt prepint take-down in ‘correction section’ at time of this writing: