This Week in Virology (TWiV) , is a podcast about viruses, “the kind that make you sick.” It is hosted by Vincent Racaniello, with various co-hosts and guest speakers coming in to help cover ‘all things virus’. The podcast started in 2008 but not surprisingly, gained a considerable following during the pandemic. Daniel Griffin, a physician specializing in infectious diseases, was at first a reoccurring guest giving clinical updates about COVID-19, and eventually his episodes became stand-alone segments. The podcasts are full of clearly explained and interesting science, whether imparting basic knowledge about viruses or highly relevant data about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. The podcasts are now also available as a video stream conference.
I tuned into a recent clinical update by Daniel Griffin (TWiV clinical update #55) in which he spoke about transmission rates in schools, testing strategies in schools and businesses, the impact of vaccines on asymptomatic infections, long COVID, and many other COVID-19 related subjects. I also listened to TWiV episode #732 which covered a citizen scientist project run by Forest Rohwer and Maria-Isabel Rojas. These scientists and their colleagues enlisted inhabitants of the San Diego area for a 'COVID in the environment' project--they asked folks to swab inanimate objects and send the swabs to the Rohwer lab for nucleic acid sequencing. This was done at the beginning of the pandemic, when the transmission routes were not well known, and we were all advised to wipe down everything. What did they find? Not many positives, and so the study suggested that hand-hygiene is important for general health, not specifically to stop SARS-CoV-2 transmission. This is something that is pretty clear now, but if I think back to March 2020, very little was clear, and it is amazing to hear how these scientists built a robust citizen scientist program at a time when the world was shutting down.
If you have some time, and want to get accurate information from people in the know, this is a podcast to listen to!