Coronavirus nanoTalks

The novel situation caused by the pandemic coronavirus is a perfect breeding ground for conspiracy theories about how such a pathogen appears to emerge from nowhere and what we actually know about its spread. We want to provide you with some scientific background on the current COVID-19 pandemic. Obviously, we will not hold an in-person event. Thus, join us on the YouTube Live Stream.
Imporant: At bit.ly/reatchCOVID19 we collect regularly updated and curated information on the pandemic and its effects on society (mostly in German)
We're currently working on getting the recordings of the talks on YouTube. In the meantime, you can find the live stream here on Facebook. The talk from Emma is now on YouTube, see below.

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Talk 1: Pandemic viruses and where they come from

Presented by Luca Murer, PhD candidate at the Department of Molecular Life Sciences, University of Zurich

The novel pandemic Coronavirus currently has a dramatic impact on our daily lives – starting with a flood of related newspaper articles during morning coffee. Everyone is talking about it, including people on social media. This situation is a perfect breeding ground for conspiracy theories regarding how such a pathogen comes about seemingly out of nowhere. In this talk, we will clear up the mess and discuss the concepts of how novel human viruses emerge.

We're currently working on getting the recordings of the talks on YouTube. In the meantime, you can find the recording of the live stream here on Facebook

Talk 2: Seeing the Epidemic Through the Trees – Phylogenetics & Sequencing of COVID-19

Presented by Emma Hodcroft, Post-doctoral Researcher at the Biozentrum, University of Basel

«He's missing the forest for the trees.» This famous English saying implies that you can't see the bigger picture for being caught in detail. During the current COVID-19 pandemic – of rising case counts, social distancing, and lockdowns – why are some scientists calling for more sequencing? Isn't this a detail? Have they lost sight of the forest (the pandemic), getting stuck in «the trees»?

However, one of the most informative things we can do with sequences is make trees – we call them phylogenetic trees. And these can actually help us «better» understand the forest – the pandemic! Every time a virus replicates itself, it introduces tiny typos into its genetic code. Through these typos, we can track the virus through time and around the world. This talk will explain how we do this, and why it's important for helping us defeat COVID-19.

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