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Coronavirus Immunity, Ask A Cephalopod Scientist. August 28, 2020, Part 1

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How well you fare in fighting a new pathogen like SARS-CoV2 depends in large part on how your immune system responds to—and kills—the virus. The immune system’s job is to protect you from invasions, both right after you’re infected as well as when you encounter similar viruses in the future. As the pandemic marches on, we still don’t know exactly how our immune systems tackle this virus. The people who get the sickest seem to have an exaggerated, but ineffective immune response that turns on their own bodies. Others have lasting symptoms, sometimes for months. Immune responses even seem to vary based on your sex. Increasingly, research suggests that COVID-19 is a disease like many others, at least in some important ways. Your body remembers the virus, and may therefore fight it more effectively the next time you encounter it—which has big implications for eventually developing an effective vaccine. Immunobiologist Deepta Bhattacharya and New York Times science journalist Katherine J. Wu talk to Ira about the complicated and varied response of the immune system to SARS-CoV2—and why current research suggests we can be optimistic about gaining long-lasting immunity from future COVID-19 vaccines. Plus, cephalopods—mollusks like octopus, squid, and cuttlefish—seem to universally excite people. Many marine enthusiasts have a favorite, from the color-changing octopus to the multi chambered nautilus. But these smart, colorful undersea creatures also raise a lot of questions. How do they move? How do they change shape and color? How intelligent are they? How do researchers study these animals? Squid biologist Sarah McAnulty answers listeners’ questions, and catches us up on the latest cephalopod news.  And Hurricane Laura made landfall Wednesday night in Louisiana after strengthening from a Category 1 to a Category 4 storm in less than a day. As residents try to find shelter in pandemic-safe ways, meteorologists are warning of an “unsurvivable” storm surge reaching as far as 30 miles inland. National Geographic editor Nsikan Akpan describes the factors that have caused the storm to so quickly gain strength. Plus, why recent changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations on who should get a coronavirus test and when people should quarantine are alarming epidemiologists and other experts—and other news from the week. 

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