Saturday night, everything’s closed, what to do? Curl up with this video about the coronavirus!

Comparing symptoms: Colds, coronavirus, flu. From Brianne Barker presentation, Drew University, March 12, 2020.

Saturday night. The pandemic has shut down theaters, concerts and bars. Patrons cleaned out the library’s DVD rack. You have exhausted your Netflix binge-list.

What to do for entertainment?

Pour yourself a tall glass of your favorite beverage — after thoroughly wiping down the bottle and scrubbing your hands– and chill with a video about…

…the coronavirus!

Coronovirus Biology: Separating Fact from Fiction is an hour-long talk by Brianne Barker, assistant professor of biology at Drew University in Madison.

Video: Drew biology professor Brianne Barker on the coronavirus:

Barker, host of the podcast This Week in Virology, has a biology degree from Duke University and a PhD in immunology from Harvard. She’s an expert on HIV/AIDS, the immune system, infectious diseases, inflammation and vaccines.

Brianne Barker, assistant professor of biology at Drew University.

Her crisp presentation, moderated by Drew Director of Alumni and Parent Relations Carol Bassie on Thursday, traces what is known and unknown about the novel coronavirus–from its name (it’s not about beer!), family tree (cousins MERS and SARS) and likely origins (what the heck is a pangolin, anyway?), to why Tamilflu won’t work, and which drugs might.

Barker demystifies the soap vs. sanitizer debate, offers data suggesting how long the coronavirus can live on various surfaces, and shares life-and-death lessons about “social distancing” learned from the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Chart from the 1918 influenza pandemic, showing mortality rates in Philadelphia (big spike) and St. Louis (aggressive ‘social distancing’). From Brianne Barker presentation, Drew University, March 12, 2020.

Why are children under 10 at little risk for COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus–while octogenarians are in serious peril? How, precisely, is this virus transmitted?

Mortality rates, mutations and immunity are explained, and Barker ends the video by fielding questions from students.

We give this movie four stars. But let’s hope there aren’t too many sequels.


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  1. This is an incredibly detailed and informative video. Everyone should find the time to watch it!

    Thank you Brianne Barker for doing this and thank you Kevin for posting it here. It’s a valuable public service.