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Science

Pandemic Spillback: Could Bats Get It from Us?

Thanks to rapid genome sequencing technology and the work of hundreds of dedicated virologists and wildlife biologists around the world, we now have a good idea where SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, came from. Sometime in the Fall or early Winter of 2019, a closely related bat coronavirus made the leap into […]

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Science

The Filtrate: Exascaling, Skeeter Seeking, and a Pandemic Roundup

The sheer quantity of pandemic-related news this week nearly clogged our system, so we did an additional distillation step to summarize it all. Welcome to this week’s issue of the Filtrate. Pandemic roundup Some of what we though we knew (or just wished was true) about SARS-CoV-2 infection is turning out to be wrong, as […]

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Science

The Filtrate for 2020.8.13

Celebrating the relaunch of The Turbid Plaque on a platform we hope will make the blogging process smoother, here’s another issue of The Filtrate. This week’s roundup is all about SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19, because of course it is. The meat of the matter Back in March and April, about 378 years ago in pandemic time, there were […]

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Science

“Immunity Passports” Are a Horrible Idea

A few days ago, the World Health Organization caused a stir by saying that antibody tests may not indicate whether someone is immune from SARS-CoV-2. This led to some understandable confusion, and WHO spokespeople have subsequently walked the comments back a bit. While the messaging might’ve been handled better, the public health experts at the […]

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Science

Coronavirus: Don’t Panic

As SARS-CoV2 blossoms into a global pandemic, friends and family members have been asking for my advice. Of course I recommend listening to “This Week in Virology,” where the virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, have been major topics on most recent episodes, but that alone won’t fill the entire need. Not everyone has […]

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Science

A Fair Few Flu Cases

Since at least 1918, when the “Spanish Flu” swept across the world, leaving a trail of corpses in its wake, Americans have blamed influenza outbreaks on other countries. These days we like to point fingers eastward, invoking images of ancient agricultural practices and chaotic live animal markets in China and Southeast Asia. With a whiff […]

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Science

What The Heck Is This ‘Polio-Like’ Disease?

Most people have by now seen the news about a mysterious “polio-like” illness paralyzing children across the US. To date, the CDC has confirmed 62 cases of the condition, called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), in 22 states since August. Another 65 people are suspected to have it, but haven’t had the diagnosis officially confirmed yet. […]