TWiV 854: Omicron is evasive

January 16, 2022

TWiV reviews findings that increased fitness of the Omicron variant is due to immune evasion, not an increase in intrinsic transmissibility, and determination of infectious viral load in patients infected with wild type, Delta and Omicron viruses reveals lack of correlation with RNA loads determined by RT-PCR, similar levels of shedding among Delta and Omicron, and greatly reduced shedding in vaccinated people.

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

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Download TWiV 854 (76 MB .mp3, 126 min)
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Links for this episode

Weekly Picks 1:40:03

DicksonFavorite Science Photos of 2021
BrianneViruses, Vaccines, and COVID-19 videos from American Museum of Natural History
KathyKlompas et al. “Current insights into respiratory virus transmission…”
RichLeviathan Falls by James S.A. Corey
Vincent Ebola (1996) by David Molesky at The Incubator

Listener Picks

RandallRobert Malone & Peter McCullough: A litany of untruths
SuellenOmicron and the case of the hidden evolution – Understanding Evolution

Intro music is by Ronald Jenkees

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5 comments on “TWiV 854: Omicron is evasive

  1. Miranda Jan 17, 2022

    Hi TWIVvers. I wanted to comment on the effect of household size on transmission in the Danish study. I am certain that this has more to do with the number of rooms in a larger household than in the number of people per se.

    I recently contracted COVID-19 while away from home. I was on a quick trip to pick up my 18-year-old university student from an airport in a big city, and the two of us overnighted with another one of my daughters. This meant that when Omicron University Kid rapid-tested positive the morning after her flight, three of us were left sharing a very small one-bedroom apartment. We subsequently experienced a Secondary Attack Rate of 100%. If we had been in our family home we would have been able to place our index case comfortably in a separate bedroom, perhaps even one with its own bathroom, in order to minimize contact. With three of us sharing a one-bedroom apartment of under 400 square feet this was impossible.

    So my point is that as households get larger, so too do the number of rooms in the typical home, and this allows for multiple configurations that can be used to isolate one or more people within them. In particular having more than one bedroom makes it at least possible to isolate the index case and reduce the risk of transmission.

    (Thankfully we were all double-vaccinated and our cases were mild. The main downside was missing Christmas at home. The three of us are all now enjoying a temporary sense of relative COVID-invincibility.)

    Thanks for a great podcast. I’m a retired small-town MD and the time I spend weeding the garden, shovelling snow, pedalling the bike trainer and housecleaning has been made much more informative and enjoyable.

  2. jennifer Jan 19, 2022

    Suggestion for TWIV paper? “Longitudinal analysis reveals high prevalence of Epstein-Barr virus associated with multiple sclerosis” by Kjetil Bjornevik, Marianna Cortese, Brian C. Healy, Jens Kuhle, Michael J. Mina, Yumei Leng, Stephen J. Elledge, David W. Niebuhr, Ann I. Scher, Kassandra L. Munger and Alberto Ascherio, 13 January 2022, Science.DOI: 10.1126/science.abj8222

  3. Chris Jan 20, 2022


    If possible please link a picture of David Molesky’s painting to this episode. BTW many of us do not have IG accounts.


  4. Also, how many “people with covid in the hospital” vs “people who came to the hospital for covid”?

    South Africa has shown that our metrics can be misleading.