16 minutes News

16 Minutes on the News #21: Coronavirus Outbreak

Judy Savitskaya and Sonal Chokshi

Posted January 29, 2020

This episode of 16 Minutes on the news from a16z is all about the recent coronavirus outbreak — or rather, a new type of coronavirus called 2019-nCoV for 2019 novel coronavirus. Since it’s an ongoing and fast-developing news cycle, we take a quick snapshot for where we are, what we know, and what we don’t know, and discuss the vantage point of where tech comes in. Topics covered include:

  • definition of a virus, categories of coronaviruses
  • origins and spread
  • how this stacks up so far against SARS and MERS
  • speed of sequencing, implications of genomic info
  • speed of information sharing
  • R0 (“r-naught”/”nought”) and what it measures
  • different ways to think about how bad a given epidemic is
  • current moves and treatments

Our a16z guest is Judy Savitskaya on the bio team, in conversation with Sonal Chokshi.

Link sources or background readings for this episode:

Other background readings / pieces mentioned in this episode: 

  • “Scientists are moving at record speed to create new coronavirus vaccines–but they may come too late”, Jon Cohen, Science (AAAS), January 27
  • “Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China”, The Lancet, January 24
  • “Discovery of a novel coronavirus associated with the recent pneumonia outbreak in humans and its potential bat origin”, bioRxiv, January 2 *note – preprint, NOT peer reviewed*
  • “The deceptively simple number sparking coronavirus fears”, Ed Yong, The Atlantic, January 28 *this appeared AFTER this episode was recorded, so sharing here as additional reading only*

image: CDC via Wikimedia Commons