Day: March 16, 2020

Background Briefing: March 16, 2020


COVID-19 and the Body’s Immune System

We begin with efforts by Dr. Anthony Fauci and other immunologists to understand what is happening with the immune response to COVID-19 which acts like the flu in having an initial spike in immune cells, lymphocytes, with a sharp drop off among older patients. And as with this coronavirus lung infection which is like pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, deaths are actually caused by a flooding of the lungs of immune cells as your immune system gets swamped by the disease which floods the lungs to the point you cannot breath. Matt Richtel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter and author of the national bestseller An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System: A Tale of Four Lives, joins us to discuss the body’s essential defense network, the immune system, which fights illness and heals wounds but has no ability to combat a new or novel virus. We will look into how these microscopic foot soldiers from T cells to “natural killers”, patrol the body having been honed by evolution over millennia to face an almost infinite array of threats, but not the current one. And while this pandemic has people scared, stress itself compromises the immune system, as can excessive hygiene with overuse of anti-bacterial products. But vaccines, one of the great breakthroughs of modern medicine, intervene on behalf of the immune system and have proven to be immensely beneficial saving countless lives in eradicating killer plaques like smallpox and polio.


Coronavirus and Health Care as a Campaign Issue

Then, following last night’s debate between Vice President Biden and Senator Sanders which was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic and arguments over whose plan could best shore up the nation’s broken patchwork of health care systems to make treatment of COVID-19 available and affordable, we speak with Jonathan Oberlander.  A Professor of Social Medicine and Health Policy and Management at the University of North Carolina and the author of The Political Life of Medicare, he joins us to discuss how this crisis will put American health care to the test and perhaps eventually lead to some form of single-payer or Medicare For All in the future.


An Economy in Freefall and a Looming Global Recession

Then finally we address the other great crisis we face, an economy in freefall and a looming global recession and speak with Anders Aslund a professor at the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who served as an economic advisor to the governments of Russia and Ukraine. He joins us to discuss his article at Project Syndicate, “Trump’s Global Recession”, and the lack of leadership particularly coming from the liar in the White House who as a leader cannot be believed or trusted, let alone followed.