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Joe Alcock

Emergency Physician, Educator, Researcher, interested in the microbiome, evolution, and medicine

George Floyd

I often feel that I am writing this blog for myself, but I have a platform here. The evolution medicine blog and podcast has a modest number of subscribers. With the recent murder of George Floyd, I am moved to speak. I have been inspired by the peaceful protests that […]

Why do we die of viral infections?

Researchers and opinion leaders cannot seem to make up their minds about what kills us in a variety of serious viral illnesses. Do we die because of too much, or too little, immune activation? Consider this about Ebola virus from an 2014 NPR feature: “But when you look at the […]

Virulence evolution and herd immunity

The billionaire hedge fund manager Ricky Sandler says we should disregard public health professionals and encourage people to get infected with COVID-19 so that the population can have “so called” herd immunity. He and others argue we should throw caution – and our face masks – to the wind and […]

Microbiomes & misfiring immunity

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many have written about the immune system turning against us. Ali Daneshkhah, a researcher who published a recent article about Vitamin D and COVID stated: “what seems to kill a majority of COVID-19 patients (is) not the destruction of the lungs by the virus itself. It […]

Microbiome and risk factors

Hypertension, obesity, and diabetes have been identified as risk factors for severe COVID-19. Intriguingly, these are diseases that are linked with the microbiome. The microbiota is the collection of microbes that inhabit our bodies. The microbiome is the collection of all of the genes of the microbiota. The vast majority […]


Athena Aktipis interviewed David Quammen, the author of Spillover, for a recent episode on zoonotic epidemic events for her podcast “Zombified.” This was recorded before the pandemic, but is absolutely relevant to our current situation. Did you know, “eight percent of the human genome is DNA that was inserted by […]

Uncertainty, evolution, and drug therapy

The two pharma companies, Sanofi and Regeneron, proposed that a drug called Kevzara might help patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. The rationale was that patients with COVID-19 have an exaggerated immune response, a phenomenon called a cytokine storm, that is responsible for the lung and organ pathology in COVID-19. The logic […]

What does high altitude have to do with COVID-19?

I recently became aware of Cameron Kyle-Sidell, an emergency physician and intensivist in NYC because of his videos describing his experience with COVID-19 patients. Sidell has argued that COVID-19 appears less like traditional ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) and features more in common with high altitude illness. He argues that […]