Doug Erickson | Santa Cruz Works | January 20, 2021

On January 19, 2021, Santa Cruz Works hosted a webinar about the new COVID-19 variants. Our co-hosts were UCSC Genomics Institute, UCSC Baskin School of Engineering, Santa Cruz County Public Health, and Salud Para La Gente.

Our moderator was Isabel Bjork, ED of UCSC Genomics Institute. Our panelists were:

  • Beth Shapiro / UCSC Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, HHMI Investigator

  • David Haussler/ Scientific Director UCSC Genomics Institute. David was named Titan of Tech 2020

  • David Ghilarducci /MD FACEP FAEMS EMS Medical Director/Deputy Public Health Officer

  • Amy McEntee / Chief Medical Officer at Salud Para La Gente

Science and Truth

This is what we know. View the recorded video to learn more.

  • Don’t panic: It is unlikely that the variants will make current vaccines ineffective.

  • Don’t kill the Messenger: the virus is a bit of RNA. The RNA is a message that is carried into cells.

  • News flash: we live in amazing times because we can READ those RNA messages.

  • Variety is the spice of life: Scientists have over 200,000 different C19 sequences we can study; in 2003, with SARs, we had at most a dozen.

  • Usain Bolt: Fast! The new variant is spreading seriously fast: watch the recording to view an animation showing the spread of various C19 variants, and see how FAST the new B.1.1.7 variant (indicated by color orange) is racing across the globe. But again, don’t panic.

  • Klingon Cloaking: if the virus mutates with a Klingon cloaking technique, our antibodies will not be able to detect it.

  • Borg tech: to defeat the invisible virus Borg Queen, scientists simply write a new piece of code for mRNA vaccines. Invisible variants are the norm. This is why you need a new flu shot every year. In your face, COVID!

  • Don’t panic: these new mutations will not make you sicker than our worse president. And the current vaccines and treatments are just as effective as a peaceful transition.

  • Positively not good: positive COVID test cases has increased from 30% to 40%. Holiday surge?

  • Data is good: UCSC, SC County Health, and Salud Para la Gente are working together to sequence the tests. Sequencing test data help us see how the contagion is occurring.

  • Get in line: our ICU capacity is zero. We actually see people waiting in line at hospitals.

  • 70 points indicate a very bad trend: we are seeing 70 cases per 1,000 – an order of magnitude more than 3 months ago.

  • Red alert, raise shields: we may need to rethink our safety. Better masks? 10-20’ social distancing. This team is addressing the new safety policies that will be needed to deflect the variant. Shields at maximum please.

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