Ricky writes:

Hi Everyone, 

I stumbled upon your podcast almost a month ago and really enjoy the insight you offer on this pandemic. I received the J&J vaccine in April and was due for a booster. However, I tested positive for covid on Nov 15th. I decided to get monoclonal antibody treatment on the 19th when my lungs started to feel inflamed and irritated. Despite having what my doctor called a mild infection thanks to the vaccine. The infusion made a dramatic difference in my recovery.

Overall I am feeling much better, but I still have night sweats and a slightly elevated resting heart rate (80s) until I take my beta blocker (60s) for high blood pressure which can be uncomfortable. I found quite a bit of literature on cardiac related issues post covid from the Mayo Clinic, Harvard, and other reputable sites. 

I also found an interesting article that criticized some of the messaging in science. Specifically, as it relates to this pandemic. I know the panel can be critical of media coverage and wanted to hear your take on how scientific data are released to the public. As you can imagine, it can be very scary for those of us either going through or recovering from covid. 

Thank you for your time and I apologize for the long winded email.

P.S. Keep preaching the good word on vaccinations. I know I am. 

– Ricky 

Lori writes:

Dear Vincent and Co,

I wanted to bring this comment to your attention. I’m pretty sure you have seen it but I have made a habit of rereading it with every apocalyptic VOC [variant of concern] that comes along. 

I often think about the following scenario. Imagine we had an Influenza pandemic with uncontrolled transmission for 2 years and the fancy scale of genomic surveillance we have today. With HA less tolerant to AA changes than Spike and higher mutational rate than in Coronaviruses, would it be fair to think we would have many more VOCs in 2 years than we do now ? If so, how would reporting on each fuel the variant-specific mass hysteria? Let alone, the feasibility to properly characterize their biology or go ahead and tweak / remake vaccines etc……..

My issue is that this kind of data shouldn’t be made public i.e. news material. It leads to mass hysteria and nothing else. Nothing changes in terms of NPIs and Vaccines but ridiculous outcomes happen such as stock markets crashing and travel bans being imposed. 

Sorry about the rant and all the best,


Lori sent: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-020-0690-4

Suellen writes:

Just wanted to write to tell you how much I enjoyed learning all about smallpox on Episode 822. I hope you do more of these “basic virus history” type episodes, they are great and answer a lot of questions I have knocking around in my head.

One that I would like some clarification on: I believe that smallpox stayed pretty stable, in terms of its ability to infect, throughout its history. So the smallpox vaccination that I received as a baby was the only one I needed, just like the measles one that kids younger than me got was the only one they ever needed.

Yet, with flu for example, we have new strains every year and new vaccines are needed. Same is somewhat true for COVID — at least, new variants keep arising, and with each one we wonder if the existing vaccines will have to be modified.

So why are some viruses so “stable” in that they don’t require new vaccines or new responses by our immune systems, and others change so frequently that we need to keep making new vaccines for them? 

Suellen in Roswell, GA

where it is currently 57 F under clear skies, heading for the mid-sixties today

Anna writes:

Hi Team TWIV!  

I’m a long time listener, and I cannot thank you enough for the valuable insight and expert opinion you have provided during this pandemic. I am a molecular biologist by training, and long time cancer researcher in that field. Although immunology and virology are not my main disciplines, I am able to soak in the literature and all that you discuss on here to translate it (the best of my ability) to friends and family. I am constantly referencing your podcast and papers you cite to inform others. So thank you!

I have two questions for you, the first being very relevant to this moment. In the case of new variants, like omicron, can you clarify the experiments that can be done in the laboratory immediately to understand whether vaccine induced antibodies can neutralize this new variant? I don’t quite understand how these experiments work, and why they haven’t already been done and reported in the case of omicron? I know that human data will come, however that takes time as we know. These in vitro experiments should in theory be much faster, but I would love to understand how those are done, and what the limiting time constraint on this is? 

Second and last question is unrelated to Covid, but one I have always been curious about, and never fully understood. Do you have a simple explanation for why we were never able to develop a vaccine for HIV? From what I loosely understand, HIV somehow evades the immune system, therefore a vaccine would be tough to develop, yet you have had guests on your show who are working on HIV vaccines, which means that scientists still believe it is possible. Are there any other viruses similar to HIV in this sense? What makes it so different than other viruses that we are able to develop vaccines against? 

Thank you so much for any insight on these questions I have. What you do here is such a value to the community, especially during these times. Thanks to all of you for fantastic scientific discourse, and for making it enjoyable to listen to!  


Boulder, CO

Rudolf writes:

Hello Vincent!

I’m a big fan of all the work you do. Thank you for your contribution!

Please help me😀. I’m fully vaccinated (including a booster). Every time when I go to a store and see all unmasked people I get quite irritated. Should I change my attitude? Please advise.

Thank you!

Martin writes:


Thank you for all your great work. I have really enjoyed listening to the back catalog and the current podcasts that keep me “up-to-date” with the COVID-19 pandemic. A question that came up among a group of coauthors was what happens when we run out of greek letters for designating variants of concern?




Martin S Andersen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Economics
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Larry writes:

TWiVniks –

You have pretty much replaced Netflix for me.  Here is my pick: https://xkcd.com/2557/   Place your cursor over the comic strip to see the “punchline”.



Washington, DC

Jeff writes:

Hi TWIV team,

Looking for information about the potential impact of the Omicron variant I ran across this website by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) which is the national public health institute of South Africa.  There is a very nice dashboard which gives a summary of hospitalizations and mortality due to SARS-CoV-2.



Jeff Fairman, Ph.D.
Founder and Vice President, Research