2020 Audio - Gold

In three episodes of Gimlet Media’s “Science Vs” podcast, Australian podcaster and host Wendy Zukerman and the "Science Vs" team dug into the science behind three coronavirus controversies. The first investigated the legitimacy of chloroquine as a coronavirus treatment. Zukerman expertly explained the mechanisms that made this medication a consideration for coronavirus treatment and takes a deeper look at some of the studies that prompted the initial chloroquine hype. BBC science correspondent Victoria Gill said the podcast’s ability to “get to grips so quickly with such a fast-moving, complicated issue as the prospective treatments for the coronavirus was impressive.” The second episode looked at what it would take to build the coronavirus in a lab, debunking the idea that the virus had been created by Chinese scientists. In the third story, the team described an outbreak involving a Japanese cruise ship where more than 700 passengers tested positive for the virus but only half experienced symptoms. Zukerman discussed the possibility that there were many asymptomatic “silent spreaders” involved and assessed whether available antibody testing was accurate enough to provide answers. Rich Monastersky, chief features editor for Nature in Washington, D.C., liked how all three episodes “explored the nuances of discoveries and controversies, and provided important information for the public at a time when rumors and misinformation were rampant.” Editor Blythe Terrell said Science Vs rarely covers breaking news but scrapped its season plans and doubled production when the coronavirus emerged. The team grappled with research advances in real time, she said, “trying to help listeners make sense of the swirling information, misinformation and disinformation.”