Lori writes:

Hi TWiVers, 

Writing from Tomball (not Buda)TX where it is 81F, 27.2 Celsius. 

I have been listening to TWiV podcasts from the autumn of 2014 and find it very interesting hearing  the conversations around the Ebola outbreak especially in light of today’s situation. Discussions about PPE, quarantine, treatments and vaccines, how important understanding the route of transmission and other properties of the virus is in protecting people. 

Going back to even earlier episodes, I am curious to know if the  group of people who were against gain of function research with H7N9, are the same who were against BSL 4 labs and are also  the same group  who believe  the SARS CoV 2 lab leak theory. My intention is not to create controversy just want to get the facts straight. 

Also, I came across a paper in Nature medicine about Dexamethasone mechanism  in treatment for severe COVID-19 and differences in  men and  women. Would love to hear you discuss on either immune or TWiV. 


Thank you all,


Genie writes:

Dear Vincent,

I’ve been reading “Principles of Virology.”  I made it through Vol. II. I have dipped into your streaming lectures to help with Vol. I. I received these books from you having been declared the third prize winner in the Twiv pandemic poetry contest. Thanks so much.

Here is Pandemic Poem #2

Pandemic vaccines rejected, alas,
And the end of the pandemic did not come to pass.
Delta arrived with its lightning hit
Proving itself a variant more fit.

Up and down, up and down went the deaths and the cases
As some of us hid with our masks on our faces.
Others pretended it was nothing at all
As Delta ravaged the nation into the fall.

Vaccine mandates arrived and brought their own strife.
Why fight against something that can save your life?
The days seem dark, yet we’re still looking for light
With science and patience we may yet get it right!

Thanks for all you and the team do,


Ethan writes:

Dear TWiVers,

It’s a wonderful, cloudy, misty, 14°C, November day here in Ann Arbor, MI. 

I picked up on TWiV at the start of the pandemic and you all have been my guiding light throughout. I teach middle school, so it’s been an interesting up and down and all over the place kind of pandemic. Very much like other pandemics, I suppose. It has been a comfort to listen to TWiV in order to get clarity on the science. I did get a booster, Vincent, but I have middle schoolers breathing on me all day long, so I figured it couldn’t hurt! Forgive me. 

Anyway, I teach a lot of writing. And I’m most interested in storytelling as a way of communicating. One of my favorite episodes is TWiV 827, with Gregory Zuckerman. A side note: my mother-in-law, Kathy Welch, is a retired University of Michigan biostatistician, so I’ve been able to get Christmas present recommendations for her from TWiV the last few years – Pox Americana was a good one – thanks Kathy Spindler (my 2nd favorite Kathy who is also a Wolverine…I am a Spartan…so it’s tough for me to love Wolverines, but I digress)! Zuckerman’s book is in my Literati cart (local book store in Ann Arbor) and will be one of her gifts this year. I loved your discussion with Mr. Zuckerman for so many reasons and I plan to read the book myself as well. 

To get to the point, I reach out to you to share a funny tidbit. I couldn’t get his book to show up in my search on the Literati website, so I did a quick Amazon search to correct my mistakes and use the correct query. I’ve attached a screenshot of what came up on Amazon. Please note the category in which Amazon has put Mr. Zuckerman’s book. Welding? And the #1 best seller to boot!  Maybe he can explain…

That’s all folks!  Have fun. Be well. Keep doing what you’re doing. I very much appreciate you. 


Ann Arbor, MI

Anthony writes:

Hi Twiv Team, 

I just finished listening to episode 829 where, at the end of the episode, there was discussion about how all published papers in nature are wrong in a sense. The hosts go on to explain how not all science is wrong, but the details in most papers can be wrong. I am currently finishing my Masters degree in Biology with the hopes of teaching undergraduates and this is something I would love to be able to explain to them in detail. Can you elaborate a bit more on this?

Thanks for all you do and while I love when all the stars are together, duet episodes are something special. 



Tyler writes:

Hello, twiv!

I am a lowly pre-doctoral fellow working in a biophysical chemistry lab in Atlanta, Georgia. I started watching your show because I am seeking to get my doctorate in virology! My question may be a change of pace from your typical questions. I have concerns regarding the ethics of the paper “Visualizing in deceased COVID-19 patients how SARS-CoV-2 attacks the respiratory and olfactory mucosae but spares the olfactory bulb.”

When would the researchers pursue consent for their procedure? If they asked patients in the hospital, could the act of asking for consent impact their probability of death? Maybe the stress of thinking of their death? I would like to see data comparing the percentage of deaths in the treatment group to comparable individuals elsewhere. Do you think this concern is valid?

Thank you for the thought-provoking commentary and exciting discussions



Karyn writes:

Hello Team Twiv- I’m in Marietta, Georgia. It’s cold out. 

I wanted to tell you that I am participating in the Marietta City Schools test and stay program. My daughter was sent home on a Wednesday for ‘close contact’ – the school district offers rapid tests every morning, so on Thursday, we did that. It was positive, so we went to the district’s PCR testing location and did that. Her test was positive, mine was not. By the time we were on the way home, my son was ready for pick up from school. He got to be tested in the middle of last week and returned to school on Friday. My daughter returned to school today.

She had no signs or symptoms. Thank God it was nice out so we could walk and stuff each day. She was climbing the walls. All of them. Those little fingers are great at gripping molding.

Anyway, here’s where you come in: When the school district called for their epidemiology questions, I answered. When the Cobb-Douglas Health Department called, I wanted to say “ask me ANYTHING, I listen to TWIV. I want you to have as much information as possible”. There’s a project between the school district and the CDC as well and I gladly answer those questions.

I’m fully vaccinated but the kids are 11 and 6 so they haven’t had the shot yet. 

During this last week, she was was supposed to isolate/quarantine and stay away from her brother. It was easier for us if he stayed in his room. That’s the big winner here– ten year olds who get basically unlimited access to minecraft because their sister had a positive test.

And Mags is pretty mischievous. She’d sit outside his door, knock and pretend to cough and tell him that she was going to “covid you”. 

We are well. Thank God. 

Thanks for all you do and I hope that you would be happy to see that there are school districts out there that are taking an aggressive testing and vaccination approach. 



Paula writes:

Hi All, I’m writing from Okinawa where it is 30 celsius but, due to the humidity, feels like 36!  It’s lovely just the same when you can go jump in the sea to cool off. While the weather is nice, the outlook for the pandemic is not great here. We’re in a state of emergency until the end of September at least. *sigh*

I’m a long time (pre-pandemic) listener and supporter and really, really, really appreciate you! I teach undergrad college biology courses as a military contractor for the Air Force and use the information and resources you provide to design activities for my students. I also enjoy your picks – they keep me smiling. If I can suggest one of my own, it would be Reasons to Be Cheerful – an email newsletter started by David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. It provides a balance to the usual fare – news for when you’ve had too much news!   https://reasonstobecheerful.world/ 

I just listened to your latest episode (Shane Crotty – great stuff) and the rant by Charles about the lack of support for antigen testing and Richard’s story about his daughter in London and the easy availability of antigen tests there. I too am stunned that the antigen tests aren’t being manufactured en masse and distributed freely. 

This topic is very timely for me because my husband and I are traveling this fall for the first time since the pandemic began. We’re coming to the U.S. to see both of our aging moms (one at 87, the other at 93 years of age). In order to fly, we will get PCR tests before flying (and of course are vaccinated).

We know that there is no testing on entry to the U.S. and want to do antigen tests to be sure we don’t pick up Covid on the way and potentially expose the moms. We looked for tests online, on U.S. sites like Amazon, Walgreens, Walmart, etc. to no avail. The only options were to purchase large packs at $1200-5000/each. We then popped down to the local drug store and bought them there. Thank goodness!  My husband continued to search online and finally found five tests, which he quickly purchased. The tests here in Japan cost $40, while the ones from the U.S. are $20. So harder to find in the U.S. but cheaper when you do find them!  

We plan to test when we land, before seeing the family, and if we’re negative, we’ll feel confident hanging out with the moms. We’ll be masking in public and otherwise not exposing ourselves to large crowds once there. 

To my question: Once there, does it make more sense to test every day for three days straight or would testing every other day over a longer time be okay? I understand that a positive antigen test lets you know you’re infected and possibly transmitting, while a negative test doesn’t say anything about infection, just that you probably don’t have a high enough load to transmit. Since it takes ~3 days from initial infection to transmissibility, would testing every other day be adequate?  I’d appreciate your insight.

As an aside, when we return to Japan, we will get a PCR test before flying, get a rapid test on arrival at the airport in Tokyo (courtesy of Japanese gov’t) and then go into ROM (restriction of movement – meaning we have to stay on a military installation) for 14 days, then get tested again before being allowed off base. Just thought you’d be interested in the protocol here as opposed to the U.S. (and if you’re a Japanese citizen in quarantine, the gov’t sends you care packages of food and water to tide you over)! Japan initially seemed to have a handle on the situation but as you know, is now in the grip. I think that, at least on Okinawa, the previously lax attitude of the military here on the island has contributed to the spread. The lack of a coordinated strategic plan among the branches of the military has surprised me and I wonder sometimes how we manage to even feed ourselves! Things are looking up now that the vaccines are getting FDA approval.

Well, you all take care. Thank you again so much for the podcast. I so enjoy listening to your thoughts and thought processes. And also love the weekly picks…my mom, who was a pilot, is the happy recipient of cockpit videos, especially the women. She was a bit of a loner back in the day and loves to see these women flying with such skill and joy. (thanks Alan). Oh, which reminds me of another pick that my mom turned me on to: a great book called The Night Witches by Bruce Myles. 

Best wishes and many thanks for all the good you’re doing,


Grant writes:

My Question:

Is it possible that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is both naturally occurring AND ALSO leaked from a lab? 

Are the two mutually exclusive or can it be both? Can a natural virus leak from a lab or is that impossible?

My Comment:

I have been listening since March 2020 and every time you plug Dickson’s website you say it wrong.

You always say thelivingriver.COM but it is actually thelivingriver.ORG You always say it with .com and Dickson never corrects you.

You should already know this since you helped him set up the website.

My Listener Pick:

Dixon picked ‘George Carlin – Stuff’ in a previous twiv and you have also said that you like George Carlin too, so my listener pick is ‘George Carlin – Germs, Immune System’ it’s a 6 minute bit that is on topic.

George Carlin – Germs, Immune System


Austin, TX