Thomas writes:

Hello Vincent,

In the most recent episode with Paul Offit the question came up what long covid actually is. Both you and he suggested that if fatigue was a criterion that you both would have to say that you have long covid. I have been guilty of this cheap quip myself in the past.

May I suggest that you read, in some five to seven minutes max, an entry in the

Blog “Crooked Timber” that is run by a bunch of British and Australian academics.

The entry is titled “Settling in for the long haul” and was posted on July 5th of this year by author Maria Farrell, a well-known technology writer.

You would henceforth not confuse tiredness with fatigue, which must be really grating to those who suffer from the latter.

Best wishes


PS: Thank you for bringing on Paul Offit again, and him for coming on.

Lori writes:
Hi TWiVers,

Just a quick comment in response to your discussion on long covid with Paul Offit, episode 917.    The fatigue experienced during  long covid is ( at least the fatigue experienced by my daughter)  not your run of the mill fatigue.   It is more like sleeping 16-18 hours a day for 3-4 days in a row.  Sleeping through 6 alarms and not being able to concentrate when you do manage to get out of bed.  I would describe this as extreme fatigue.  I don’t know what the criteria is for diagnosis , maybe it needs to be better defined.  

Best Regards,


John writes:

Drs TWiV:

Still a fairly comfortable 85/29 in Greater Braddock.  The promised rain has apparently been delayed for an hour; my plants are unimpressed with this.

Indeed, Rich, what is Chemical Biology if not Biochemistry?   Somewhere along the line, Biochemistry seemed to have become a dirty word in our own lifetime.  I joined the Department of Biochemistry @ U Pittsburgh Medical School in early 1985.  That only lasted a few months before Biochemistry and Microbiology were combined, forming the Dept of Microbiology & Biochemistry (to some chagrin mainly because I think Biochemistry & Microbiology rolls off the tongue better), with Julie Youngner as chair.  Then a few yrs later my nemesis Joe Glorioso arrived from Ann Arbor and the dept was renamed Molecular Genetics & Biochemistry.   At least Biochemistry stayed in the title, but Molecular Biology was the actual reigning term.  Five or so yrs later I moved down the hill (but not downhill!) to Biological Sciences & the home of Roger Hendrix – a much better fit.  Somewhere along the line I began calling myself a Protein Chemist as push-back.  I told someone that once, and they replied that they didn’t know that there were any of those left.

For a decade or so I was on the Editorial Review Board of the European Journal of Biochemistry.  What I really liked about that was that it was the successor to Biochemisches Zeitschrift.  That just seemed so cool.  Plus, Per Edman’s paper on the spinning-cup “sequenator” was the first paper in the first issue.  But then they changed the title to FEBS Journal.  Another damn acronym!!  I didn’t actually resign but I asked them to take my name off of the list of editors in protest.

Anyway, I always felt comfortable around chemists, one of whom told me that I “wasn’t bad, for a biologist.”  A decade ago as I was headed out the door for good at Pitt, one of them also told me that the Chemistry Dept was trying to become as biologically relevant as fast as possible, so that’s probably the driving force behind Chemical Biology.



Ann writes:

Hi … I listen to many TWIV’s happily and suck up the information. I am a neurologist and am involved in a lot of neurology/psychiatry “overlap” issues and read hungrily emerging information re “Long Covid” central and peripheral nervous system syndromes.   Re episode #913 and the comments re the Minnesota governor (physician) candidate with maliciously mistaken “beliefs” about Covid vaccines, ivermectin, etc,  I read “Medscape” frequently (an article summary/condensation and opinion free publication for any medically affiliated person – also open to anyone in the public wrt Covid issues).  There are MANY reader comments (by physicians, nurses, psychologists, medical administrators, maybe chiropractors) that are conspicuously uninformed with very forceful opinions about Covid vaccination, Covid epidemiology, strong intermixing of “politics” and tribalism with science/lack of. This is a very well-read publication by physicians, and it may surprise you how prevalent these cult-like anti-opinions are. There are also a number of not-so-underground physician podcasts with these types of themes. And I believe there may be general reticence on the part of medical boards to pursue these behaviors. I think that the 1/3 or more of the general population in this poorly steered ship is in the “medically-educated” population as well. FYI. 

Thanks, Ann

Guy writes:

Hi TWIVers,

I am curious:  Polio is supposedly “eradicated” in the US, but what does that mean exactly.  We have people coming in from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the vaccinated ones are getting OPV.  According to the CDC Pink Book on polio, we have seen some vaccine-caused polio floating around for some time before being detected at times.  Is this enough to find in wastewater?  Are we really checking wastewater everywhere?  Are they checking it more in the UK?

I suspect we never see polio disease here because most everybody is vaccinated, but how much asymptomatic polio infection is there?  Is this another case of not finding it because we don’t look?  If there really was no polio in the US why do we keep vaccinating kids for it?

Thanks For All The Great Info,


Brenda writes:

Hi honoured TWIVvers!

The topic of correlation came up in TWiV 911:.

I’d like to draw your attention to Tim Harford.

He is well known in the UK including his role as the presenter of the BBC Radio 4 broadcast segment More or Less.  “Correlation is not causation.” could be said to be something of a watchword of the program.  I’m pretty certain the ice-cream/drowning case has been mentioned. See also this: 

On the subject of looking in the wrong place for the cause, I would like to draw your attention to this:

I think that y’all are on the right track by questioning the heavy focus on viruses and Adenovirus in particular. The search should surely be expanded to include bacteria and possibly food additives.


Brenda Steele, Black Isle, Scotland.

Dale writes:

Hello TWIV team,

I was listening to the discussion in epitope 917 about the meaning of “acute” and thought I might be able to throw my 2 cents in. For reference I’m a pharmacist so we deal with acute and chronic conditions all the time. 

In medicine, acute doesn’t always describe severity but always describes duration. Acute conditions only for a relatively short period of time while chronic is a long term thing. 

So with regards to SARS-COV-2 and the letter saying it’s not always acute, the way I see it is this:

The *infection* is acute bc it usually lasts only about 10-14 dys on average. However the *disease* can potentially be described as chronic in some patients in the form of Long COVID. 

I hope that helps,

Dave Hale, PharmD 

Salt Lake City, UT 

Ann writes:
Since many of Kathy and Rich’s picks are often space-related, I think they and all Twiv listeners would enjoy reading this piece from the WSJ (written by Ben Cohen, a reporter/colleague of my son at the WSJ) about how Greg Robinson turned the James Webb telescope, a $10 billion debacle, into a groundbreaking scientific mission. The link is below, but the Wall Street Journal has a pay wall so I am cutting and pasting the article as well. It’s a great story. Ben’s column titled the Science of Success,  is new and aims to reveal the hidden figures, unlikely forces and market shifts behind the news as it aims to answer a big question: Why do people, companies and ideas succeed or fail?

Here’s his column: 

It’s an observatory so powerful it makes the Hubble Space Telescope look like a pair of binoculars. It’s currently 1 million miles away from Earth on a spectacular adventure in outer space. It’s part of a mission with the potential to change the way we think about life itself.

But first the James Webb Space Telescope had to work.

“There’s a huge distance between success and failure,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the head of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, “and only a few actions that move you from one to the other.”

The release of the first images from Webb next week will represent a groundbreaking moment for a project decades in the making, and the people most excited to see them are the ones who suspected they never would. Webb hovered for years much closer to the wrong end of the spectrum between failure and success. It cost so much and was delayed for so long that the mission was nearly canceled several times. But for all the scientific brainpower and engineering ingenuity devoted to Webb, one of the few actions that made a difference was something else altogether. Actually, it was someone.

We think of Neil Armstrong when we think about NASA’s greatest triumphs. We should think of Greg Robinson, too.

Sonrisa writes:
Hi all, 

I enjoyed this immensely and thought that other listeners might as well.  And that Alan might really appreciate this if he hasn’t heard it already. 

William Langewiesche is interviewed about flight and they discuss why you can’t fly if you can’t see, how instrumentation changed that.  And how instinct can be dangerous for a pilot. 

Before William Langewiesche became a decorated National Correspondent for the Atlantic, and an International Correspondent for Vanity Fair, he was a professional pilot and flight instructor. Like his writer and pilot father, Wolfgang Langewiesche, author of the bench-mark book for aviators called ‘Stick and Rubber’, William has also written some of the most lyrical and often-quoted texts on the beauty, risk, and technical minutiae of modern flying. From his personal experience in the cockpit, he takes us through the mystery and deceptive character of the manoeuvre whose gradual mastery by pilots made the world small: the banking turn.