Storyblock’s image of a doctor administering an injection used for a StarTalk episode about a COVID-19 vaccine.
Storyblock’s image of a doctor administering an injection used for a StarTalk episode about a COVID-19 vaccine.

Cosmic Queries – COVID-19 Vaccines

Image Credit: Storyblocks.
  • Free Audio
  • Ad-Free Audio
  • Ad-Free Video

About This Episode

Is a COVID-19 vaccine likely in the near future? On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Paul Mecurio answer your fan-submitted Cosmic Queries about vaccines for COVID-19 with the help of their guest, Dr. Paul Offit, MD, Director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

We start with the big question: What happened? How did an outbreak like this occur in modern times? Paul sheds light on how, if we would’ve known about the outbreak sooner, we could’ve gotten ahead of the virus. We discuss how to navigate dealing with anti-vaxxers and those who don’t want to wear masks. Paul shares his thoughts on the hardest part of vaccine education. 

For a quick refresher on Vaccines 101, Dr. Offit tells us how vaccines work. You’ll learn about the “typical” procedure used to create and distribute a new vaccine and why a vaccine for COVID-19 can be extremely accelerated. We also ponder whether a vaccine might reduce the number of anti-vaxxers? Dr. Paul explains the difference between being a vaccine skeptic vs. being a vaccine cynic. 

Once a vaccine exists, who will get vaccinated first? We discuss strategies in place for when the day comes. We also discuss if COVID-19 will linger around like the flu or if we can remove it from the face of the Earth. You’ll also find out the role young people play with spreading the virus. 

We investigate possible timelines for a COVID-19 vaccine. Paul shares his thoughts on what makes something a “bad” side effect. All that, plus, Neil wonders why medicinal procedures have yet to capitalize on computer simulations to test vaccines on human physiology. 

Thanks to our Patrons Patrick Gibbs, Jonathan O’Rear, Rusty Faircloth, Jaclyn Mishak, Jeremy Scott, Alejandra Salinas, Tom Bock, and Marcus Richardson for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch and listen to and watch this entire episode commercial-free.

About the prints that flank Neil in this video:

“Black Swan” & “White Swan” limited edition serigraph prints by Coast Salish artist Jane Kwatleematt Marston. For more information about this artist and her work, visit Inuit Gallery of Vancouver.

In This Episode

Get the most out of StarTalk!

Ad-Free Audio Downloads
Ad-Free Video Episodes
Stickers & Mugs
Live Streams with Neil
Priority Cosmic Queries
Early-Access Videos
Learn the Meaning of Life
...and much more

Episode Topics