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Robert Siegel is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University and commentator on coronavirus for several news outlets. He joins the podcast today to share his expertise.

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Tune in to discover:

  • What viruses have been definitively linked to some of the most important cancers
  • What type of basic information we do and do not know about COVID-19
  • Why Siegel believes things will look worse in six months than they do now in terms of the current pandemic

Siegel started teaching about viruses over four decades ago during a course on the biology and causes of cancer. He teaches in public education, and works for a number of non-governmental organizations doing prevention work on HIV in regions of Africa, and malaria in Papua New Guinea.

Most recently, he’s been working with students on a review of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission of the current coronavirus.

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He explains where the gaps in our knowledge lie with regard to the current pandemic, for example knowing what percentage of people who are positive for the virus yet asymptomatic will become symptomatic.

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He discusses mutation rates and replication of coronaviruses more generally, and the speed with which the molecular biology of COVID-19 has been understood.

“It’s possible that we may have a vaccine in six months, or a year, or two years, or five years, but we can’t be sure; it’s possible we may have some very effective therapeutics by the end of the year, or in two years, or five years, but don’t know for sure; the only thing we know for sure is that behavioral interventions are capable of stopping this virus,” says Siegel.

He goes on to explain the things that get in the way of behavioral intervention, which include psychological, economic, and political impacts. He advocates for a long-term perspective when it comes to thinking about this virus, and shares what he believes needs to happen right now in order to start getting rid of it.

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