COVID-19 and the 2020 Election

Will there even be an election in 2020? A panel of UC Berkeley experts in politics, public policy, cybersecurity and law, say yes. The constitution is clear about that.

Can we predict the effect of the pandemic on results? Not yet. We can look at traditional indicators, the economy and the president’s approval rating, but we don’t yet know if the economy will pick up or if the virus will surge in the fall.

“The Trump administration has decided to make an enormous policy and political bet, and the bet is that they can re-open the economy, and the economy will come back in time for the election, and that COVID-19 won’t re-erupt in a way that will either stifle those efforts or kill lots of people,” says Henry Brady, Dean of the Goldman School at UC Berkeley.

There is a question of how the threat of contracting COVID-19 will affect voter turnout, especially among minority voters, and if mail-in voting will be a successful replacement for in-person voting.

This conversation took place May 8th, before the events of the past week. Many of the points are in even sharper relief today in this interesting and sobering look at the next few months leading to the election and ultimately the swearing in January 2021.

Watch How COVID-19 will Shape the 2020 Election.

Staff Picks Featuring UCSD-TV’s Science Producer

Science is all around us. Our science producer picked twelve programs that reflect the impact of science on both our daily lives and on complex global issues. We rely on facts, data and past results to inform decisions big and small. Enjoy!

A Deep Look into COVID-19: Vaccines, Drugs and the Evolutionary Arms Race
As the entirety of humanity grapples with the most serious global challenge in over a century nations and societies have responded, or not, by leveraging the only tool we have to respond – the understanding that science gives us about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, its spread and the COVID-19 disease which it causes. The only path to managing this new pathogen – which like measles, polio, pertussis and other pathologies, will forever be amongst humans – will be through the development of effective, proven treatments and immunization.

In this second video from the A Deep Look into COVID-19 series, UC San Diego infectious disease researchers provide an overview of the potential for treatments and vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They share their expertise in the dynamics of the SARS-CoV-2 host-pathogen interactions, epidemic and pandemic cycles, and pathways that may lead to vaccines and treatments to respond to this global challenge.

A Deep Look into the Biology and Evolution of COVID-19
UC San Diego infectious disease researchers provide an overview of the biology and evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, cause of COVID-19 disease which is sweeping the globe in a pandemic. They share their expertise in the dynamics of host-pathogen interactions and viral life-cycles and how they relate to this global challenge.

Saturday Science at Scripps Research: A Molecular Roadmap to Global Health
Immunologist Erica Ollman Saphire, an expert who has worked on the front lines in west Africa battling viral hemorrhagic fevers, gives a fascinating and sometimes frightening on-the-ground account of how the VIC global consortium developed the only effective strategy to fight the Ebola virus.

Outsmarting Outbreaks: Using Genomics to Track Viruses: In The Front Row at Scripps Research
In this Front Row presentation, Kristian Andersen shares how he, with a global network of collaborators, applies a ‘team science’ approach to deciphering outbreaks of emerging diseases such as Ebola and Lassa Virus. His highly cross-disciplinary work combines next-generation sequencing, computational biology, experimentation and field work to investigate how viruses emerge and cause large-scale outbreaks.

The Philadelphia Measles Epidemic
Paul Offit, MD is a Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He reviews the details of the 1991 Philadelphia measles epidemic and the measures taken by the city to stop it. Offit specializes in infectious diseases and on vaccines, immunology, and virology.

CARTA: Imagination and Human Origins: Alysson Muotri – Reconstructing the Neanderthal Mind in a Dish
Alysson Muotri of UC San Diego’s Stem Cell Program discusses his work creating cortical organoids from modern humans as well as organoids with genetic characteristics similar to Neanderthal to compare differences in neural development.

A Neanderthal Perspective on Human Origins with Svante Pääbo – 2018 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest
Most people are part-Neanderthal, the closest extinct human relative. Svante Pääbo explores human genetic evolution by analyzing preserved genetic material from the remains of ancient organisms, including Neanderthals. What can we learn from the genomes of our closest evolutionary relatives? Pääbo is an evolutionary anthropologist and pioneer of paleogenetics and the director of the Max Plank Institute of Evolutionary Genetics. He was awarded the 2018 Nierenberg Award for Science in the Public Interest.

CARTA: Imagination and Human Origins: Adrie & Alfons Kennis – Using Imagination to Create Reconstructions of Ancient Hominins
A fascinating look at how the Kennis brothers combine science and imagination to reconstruct ancient hominins.

Searching for Autism in our Social Brain
Biological anthropologist Katerina Semendeferi describes how the human brain’s extraordinary powers of social cognition may predispose only humans to conditions like autism and how she aids the search for the neurophysiology underlying these conditions.

Connecting Stem Cell-Derived Brain and Eye Models with 3D Printing
Top scientists are growing miniature brains and retinas from stem cells in their labs, and connecting them with 3D printed tissue. The team is hoping to gain new insight into the earliest stages of brain and eye development, in order to cure a whole host of diseases.

Working with Natural Born Killers: Using Natural Killer Cells to Improve Cancer Immunotherapies
Natural Killer – or NK – cells are one of our immune systems most potent defenses, able to attack viral infections and destroy cells that exhibit tumorigenic characteristics. UC San Diego physician Dr. Dan Kaufman, who has specialized in treating blood cancers for over 20 years now leads a research group at the UC San Diego Stem Cell program that is using induced pluripotent stem cells to generate NK cells that are targeted to destroy cancer cells. With the goal of providing safer, more effective, off-the-shelf cancer immunotherapies, the methods his lab has developed are being employed in a first-of-its-kind clinical trial anywhere in the world being conducted at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Curing Leukemia: From Zebrafish to Alpha Clinics
Alysson Muotri explores how discoveries made using tiny Zebrafish will lead to cures for blood diseases like leukemia using stem cells, and how those cures will reach patients through California’s network of Alpha Clinics.

Explore More Science on UCSD-TV.

Can China and the US Cooperate to Defeat a Common Enemy?

Infectious diseases are global challenges that need global solutions. The state of US-China relations are so hostile at the political level and increasingly at the public level, that the kind of pragmatic cooperation needed is lacking to deal with COVID-19. Many programs started under President Bush and continued under President Obama to increase on-the-ground knowledge and cooperation were dismantled under the Trump administration which created an environment where neither nation trusted the other would be there to help.

When COVID-19 arrived, the Chinese CDC reported the outbreak to US CDC and the World Health Organization, but were slow to inform the Chinese people. China and the US had dealt with the SARS virus but this was different in that transmission was by asymptomatic people as well as symptomatic people which meant the disease was seeded much earlier and much further than originally thought. Close cooperation among scientists and doctors is needed to tackle COVID-19 and the second and third waves that are yet to come.

To further complicate the response is the already tense relationship aggravated by the trade war between the two countries, one with a president concerned about re-election and the other concerned with solidifying his lifelong tenure. Each politician has tried to divert criticism by blaming the other; both have supported and amplified wild conspiracy theories about the other.

Experts from UC San Diego and Villanova met remotely on April 9 to discuss the history, the current tension and the potential for cooperation in the fight against this common enemy. Susan Shirk, Victor Shish and Deborah Seligson tackle the issue from all angles.

Watch US-China Relations – COVID-19 Global Impacts Webinar.

Do We Really Understand Why Whales Sing?

In general, animal song is thought to have several specific characteristics including being restricted to males, having a territorial purpose, and being used to attract a mate. But things might be different in the deep dark world that whales inhabit. Join marine acoustics expert John Hildebrand to learn how the singing characteristics in some whale species challenges this generalization and how long-term trends in whale song still present a mystery to scientists.

Watch Do We Really Understand Why Whales Sing?

Vaccines, Drugs and the Evolutionary Arms Race

As the entirety of humanity grapples with the most serious global challenge in over a century nations and societies have responded, or not, by leveraging the only tool we have – the understanding that science gives us about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, its spread and the COVID-19 disease which it causes. The only path to managing this new pathogen, which like measles, polio, pertussis and other pathologies will forever be amongst humans, will be through the development of effective, proven treatments and immunization.

In this second installment, UC San Diego infectious disease researchers provide an overview of the potential for treatments and vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They share their expertise in the dynamics of the SARS-CoV-2 host-pathogen interactions, epidemic and pandemic cycles, and pathways that may lead to vaccines and treatments to respond to this global challenge.

On the panel: Matthew Daugherty, Stephen Hedrick, Suresh Subramani, Emily Troemel.

Watch A Deep Look into COVID-19:

Video 1: A Deep Look into the Biology and Evolution of COVID-19

Video 2: Vaccines, Drugs and the Evolutionary Arms Race