Category Archives: pandemic

New article: coronavirus lingers on surfaces longer than we thought

While most cases of Covid-19 are surely contracted via interperson contact (hugging, respiratory droplets, talking next to someone, handshakes, and so on), this new article from Virology Journal, produced by five Australian researchers, suggests that the virus can linger on various surfaces substantially longer than we suspected, and those infection-bearing surfaces (called “fomites”) can carry […]

Covid 19 may hijack pain receptors, reducing pain and increasing the spread of the virus: a possible result of natural selection

The paper below, which has just been published (click on screenshot to go to page, then click the “download” button to the left to get the pdf), has a unique twist that may say something about evolution in pathogens, but the evolutionary angle hasn’t been mentioned. It’s a complex and technical paper, using rat models […]

A good article on Covid-19 testing, a way forward, and where we screwed up

I commend to your attention this article in The Atlantic on Covid-19.  The authors, Robinson Meyer and Alexis Madrigal (staff writers on science and technology), discuss the best ways to stem the pandemic, the advantages and disadvantages of various tests for infection, and how the U.S. screwed up in its response. Click on the screenshot […]

Reminder: first MIT coronavirus lecture today at 11:30 Eastern time

Just a reminder: I announced yesterday a one-hour-a-week “all star” course at MIT on the pandemic and the virus—the first lecture in a course that goes through December 8.  There are of guest lecturers, some well known. It starts soon this morning, and note that the starting time (11:30 a.m.) is Eastern US time. More […]

New MIT all-stars course on coronavirus and the pandemic starts TOMORROW (one hour per week)

Reader Andrea sent me a note about a new online course at MIT, one that you can watch for free. It starts tomorrow morning, and note that class times given are Eastern US times. It’s just one hour per week, and is likely worth your while. Here’s the announcement, and notice all the Big Guns […]

Dr. Alex’s latest advice on Covid 19, and a chance to ask questions

From time to time, my primary care physician Dr. Alex Lickerman posts articles on his website from about what’s going on with the pandemic, concentrating on the scientific research and what it means. The latest post on the website, below, “lays out the evidence for wearing masks, talks about the development of a vaccine, and […]

Yale reopens, but at what cost?

Matthew called my attention to a tweet quoting this article from Yale University’s student paper, the Yale Daily News. (Click on the screenshot). Unlike most colleges, which are closing as fast as a revolving door, Yale plans to reopen this fall with stringent health protocols in place. Only three cohorts (first- third- and fourth year […]

The efficacy of different face masks in reducing droplet emission

What kind of mask should you wear during the pandemic? (Yes, you should always wear one if you’re around people.) A new paper in Science Advances (click on screenshot below, free pdf here, reference at bottom) gives a tentative answer to that question, assuming that you’re wearing the mask to avoid infecting other people. And […]

The MS Roald Amundsen becomes a Petri dish

Several readers informed me about the coronavirus outbreak on the MS Roald Amundsen, the ship I was on last fall as a lecturer for five weeks in Antarctica, Patagonia, and the Falkland Islands. The article below is from Ars Technica (click on screenshot), and there’s another from the BBC.  It’s a sad tale of something […]

Are people becoming more talkative during the pandemic?

I’ve noticed in the last couple of months that people I talk to, either over the phone or in person, seem to have become much more loquacious, to the point where  it seems that 90% or more of the conversational airtime is taken up by one person’s words. (To be sure, I’m often laconic.) Now […]