Theodora, Paul, and Michel write:
To the hosts of TWiV,
We listened to your commentary of our paper ‘Increased memory B cell potency and breadth after a SARS-CoV-2 mRNA boost’ in TWiV episode #896. We were embarrassed for you by the way you misrepresented the contents of the paper and by the numerous factual errors and miss-interpretations. We applaud your critique of scientific papers and acknowledge that no study is perfect. However, it is incumbent on you to accurately represent the papers you discuss and to base your criticisms on facts. In this case you have not done so.
Below is a representative, albeit incomplete, list of the many salient errors that were made (in chronological order) during your commentary, with approximate time stamps (YouTube). We trust that you will correct the record accordingly.
[in the interest of keeping the formatting of the authors’ response, it is being posted here as the original pdf. Click here to download]
Hello TWiV team,
I am quite thrilled to finally be writing to you. I can’t say how many (hundreds of) messages I have written in my head and also hundreds of questions that I have never asked. I am a big fan of TWiV and I constantly seek trusted information and perspectives from this team. I trust each and every one of you with the thorough and honest analysis of data. TWiV is an invaluable resource of knowledge!!
I have had the **extreme pleasure** of meeting Vincent when he came in 2015 to give a talk to my institution (Mississippi State University). He had the most spontaneous idea of taking a selfie (attached) which I proudly show to anyone that I tell about TWiV. I am a virologist myself, and I have converted all my students into TWiV fans. I own Vincent’s Principles of Virology book (3rd and 4th editions), and a copy of Fields Virology, where I have read Rich’s chapter numerous times. Particularly useful is a table that shows the number of infected cells as you increase MOI, according to Poisson’s distribution. In my lab we have our own “wall of herpes” (Bovine herpesvirus 1) made of hundreds of plaque assays. I am a super fan of plaque assays! and I pride myself in saying that no student passing through my lab will leave without having learned how to do them!
I was recently in Barcelona for a sabbatical semester (jan-Jun 2022) and the daily commuting to the institute where I was working was totally new to me and made me ever-so-dependent on the TWiV podcast! (now that you are back to one weekly episode, plus Daniel’s clinical update, I miss the second weekly episode!!) But I know that you do this out of your own time and hearts, and understand that you have your own life and jobs too 🙂 Having said that, I recently started listening to Urban Agriculture, and I am so absolutely hooked. Dickson, my husband and I completely admire you, how much knowledge & life experiences you have had, how you tell your stories blending all kinds of data, facts, phenomena, stories and people together into a compelling string that keeps us glued to the earpiece! Unfortunately this means I am behind with my TWiV episodes (hey there’s only so much time to walk the dog:). But even so, I do not allow myself to jump ahead to newer TWiV episodes -I will listen to them all!
I think that I finally decided to write after TwiV 852 when you talked about HPV infection and a rare deficiency in CD28 in three individuals. “The Tree-Man Syndrome”, fascinating episode. I have had in my office for a while (about 14 years now, since I left U. of Nebraska Lincoln) a little printed comic book named “The curse of the tree-man”. It comes from a website called “World of viruses” (https://worldofviruses.unl.edu/ ), you probably already know about this site. I am attaching the pdf file of this particular story about HPV, but there are many other stories and especially now they have come up with “CoronaComix” etc. It is worth a look. Maybe this would qualify as a listener pick (such an honor).
With admiration for the incredible work that you do,
PS: I have searched for TWiV or microbe tv on smile.amazon to make donations to your team but could not find it. Is there a special tip you can give me?
Florencia Meyer, Ph.D.
Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Entomology & Plant Pathology
MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY
Ladies and gentlemen of TWIV (and Daniel),
I had the good fortune to quite accidentally meet Dickson in the park this past weekend. I really had no idea who he was, and was rather enjoying talking about the finer points of angling with him. But at some point in the conversation, he mentioned that he was a professor of parasitology at Columbia, and when I asked him if he knew any of the folks responsible for Microbe.TV his eyes popped wide open and he laughed and all of a sudden it hit me that I was talking about all things angling with The One and Only Dickson Despommier.
Of course, I was rather stunned. You see, Dickson and all of you were my Pandemic Heroes and Heroines.
As you might remember, those were dark times, back in the beginning of 2020. I had been trying, since mid-January, to find kernels of truth in the vast wasteland of information and twaddle we call “The Internet.” And so when I came across This Week in Virology, I felt like I had finally found a place that was unpolluted by politics – a place that stuck to the science.
For that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You all performed the most valuable public service imaginable. Through your work, non-scientists such as myself were able to keep ourselves accurately informed… and as such were able to soar just a bit above the nonsense. I felt empowered, in the loop, and armed with the information I needed to keep my family safe. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Before I close this letter, I feel I must touch on two points.
First of all, I had the good fortune to go to high school with Matthew Pottinger (Trump’s Deputy National Security Advisor), and I was with him in Beijing back when he was a journalist for the Wall Street Journal. As a fluent Mandarin speaker, Pottinger had provided excellent coverage of the SARS-CoV-1 outbreak, and while we were in mainland China together, he was running down an avian flu outbreak that the Chinese government was vigorously denying despite all the evidence that Pottinger had accumulated. And among the small circle of other government professionals I know who have considerable experience working in China, the fact that Pottinger was in the “lab leak” camp for this SARS-CoV-2 pandemic gave us considerable pause. I am not saying he is right or that he is wrong. I am just saying he knows China and its government better than most, and that this wasn’t his first time at the rodeo. Yes, “when you mix science and politics, you get politics” … but in China EVERYTHING is mixed with politics, including science … and then it is dipped in politics, fried in politics, and served on a bed of politics … with a side salad of politics.
And secondly, I would like to formally invite Dickson on a fishing trip. I had been meaning to invite him all through 2020 and 2021, but its better to be late than never.
Thank you all. I am forever in your debt.
Eric, I accept!!!! And thank you for listening and writing into our podcast!
Here’s a question for Rich and Dickson:
I know we are supposed to stay in our lane but nuclear power has me concerned regarding waste. In our many years of nuclear, we’ve only presented candidates for geological depositories of which only 1 exists in Europe, some more have been proposed, but we have moved zero tons of hlw (high level waste) to them. That’s 7 decades of waste sitting above ground and there are already energy barons who reaped the profits of these fuels and died before cleaning them up. There was a time until 1973 that counties dumped it into the ocean, very good we stopped that.
My worry is nuclear power is the ultimate credit card that society doesn’t see the interest accumulating on, and I’d wonder what Rich Condit and Dickson feel about us leaving that legacy without cleaning it up. They seem to be interested in other sciences and especially particle physics. Shouldn’t we ask future reactor builders to commit to a cleanup of previous decades in trade for a license to build more reactors? I just wanted to put this on their radar and would love their input as scientists.
I listen to the Clinical Update every Saturday. My dad is in a nursing home in Ohio. Unfortunately, he tested positive for Covid on Monday. He is 77 years old with a history of stroke, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. When Mom called me with the news, I immediately asked if he was going to be put on Paxlovid. She wrote it down and called the doctor. He prescribed it and Dad is starting to feel better. I’m disappointed that the nursing home didn’t have a plan in place other than giving him Tylenol especially because the pulse oximeter showed his oxygen to be 85% and he had a fever of 101.
Thank you so much for educating all of us. I may not work in health care but I love the podcast and the information I learned helped my Dad.
Blessings to all of you,
I would like to contribute a listener’s pick.
The foldscope is a paper based microscope designed to be used in the field and to make research and diagnostics more accessible to remote/underserved communities globally. A link with more information is provided below.
Harris County Public Health
Miguel A. Saldaña, PhD | AMCAR Manager
Mosquito and Vector Control Division