News stories are appearing everywhere about new coronavirus variants appearing globally (in 31 countries as of Dec 31, 2020) and in the U.S. (California, Florida, Colorado).  While print and online sources generally treat this news with caution, talk of mutant viruses is front and center in the television and radio news cycle.  On my shortContinue reading “Variants”

Questions please!

I’m trying something new with my Coronavirus posts, which is to ask readers of this blog for their questions about the biology of this infection.   I’ve been inspired by reading Heather Cox Richardson’s wonderfully informative posts and podcasts on Facebook where she puts current political news in a broader historical context (she also is onContinue reading “Questions please!”

Perspective, Part 3: Age and health risk factors

In Part #2 of this post I discussed community risk as if all members of the community had the same risk of severe illness and death if infected with SARS-CoV-2, which we all know isn’t true.  While a small number of people may have a genetic quirk that makes them uniquely susceptible to this infectionContinue reading “Perspective, Part 3: Age and health risk factors”

Perspective, Part 2: Infection vs disease

When I think about the coronavirus pandemic, I try to think of it from two different viewpoints at once: what is the risk to myself and my family, and what is the risk to my broader community?   The first viewpoint allows me to get the right ‘anxiety setting’ on my personal stress dial.  We generallyContinue reading “Perspective, Part 2: Infection vs disease”

Perspective, Part 1: Reducing infection risk

Coronavirus anxiety I wrote the original version of this post on Monday (five days ago), but it wasn’t reading quite right, so I thought I’d come back to it on Tuesday with fresh eyes. I didn’t manage to open the file again until today (Saturday), with a new perspective given how this past week unfolded. Continue reading “Perspective, Part 1: Reducing infection risk”

Beyond antibodies: T-cells and long term immunity

Antibody levels and T-cells in the news Worryingly, the percentage of people found to have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in countries that experienced early waves of infections is much lower than what we would need for ‘herd immunity’, and antibody levels drop in the weeks to months after recovery (see this blog post for a quickContinue reading “Beyond antibodies: T-cells and long term immunity”

Antibodies and immunity

Cells in our bodies communicate by releasing signals Our bodies are made up of organ systems, each made in turn of tissues and cells. Our heart is a collection of cells that work together to pump blood through our arteries and veins, our muscles are collections of cells that can contract in response to nerveContinue reading “Antibodies and immunity”

Another Numbers Post (and a correction)

First, I would like to make a correction to the U.S. infection rate numbers I put in my last post.  I made a mistake in the way I built my equation for calculating infection rate.*  My apologies for reporting improperly calculated numbers!  Here is the corrected and updated graph of U.S. infection rates for theContinue reading “Another Numbers Post (and a correction)”


This is a long one!  But it summarizes quite a bit of information that relates directly to social distancing policies, and what sorts of decisions our public officials are (or should be) making.  I have a couple more post topics lined up which should be shorter, one about vaccine development, and another about possible treatmentsContinue reading “Numbers”

How long can the virus 'stay alive', and how do I get rid of it??

In order to understand how long coronaviruses can last on surfaces, and also which disinfectants will destroy them, we have to understand more about the overall construction of viruses in general, and coronaviruses in particular.  For something so fundamentally simple as a packet containing ‘copy me’ information and a few key proteins, viruses come inContinue reading “How long can the virus 'stay alive', and how do I get rid of it??”