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What We Know About COVID-19: The Science
Michael Rothberg, MD on PYP 423

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Michael Rothberg, MD, returns to Plant Yourself to share the latest actual scientific understanding of COVID-19. We spoke first in mid-March, when we didn't know much. Fast forward five months, and we now know a lot, but in the US at least, we're ignoring most of the science and suffering for it.

I've been as confused as anyone else, daunted by epidemiological models I can't evaluate for accuracy, overwhelmed by social media fights about masks and free speech and hydroxychloroquine and vaccines and government overreach that have riven the plant-based community, and befuddled by competing claims of conferred immunity and how long it might last.

So I got Michael on the Zoom and peppered him with my questions.

Michael is the perfect person to talk about all this. First of all, he's been one of my best friends since September, 1977, when we met at South Orange Junior High and immediately started arguing with each other about anything and everything. I've never know anyone less afflicted by confirmation bias – he really just wants to know the truth, and actually delights in being shown evidence that conflicts with or even better, disproves his own hypotheses.

Second, he's been studying the gap between medical evidence and medical practice for about 30 years, and has a deep understanding of the weight of evidence, and where claims of efficacy overreach. He's spent decades studying the flu, and medical responses to it, and so has a strong background in public health around viruses.

Michael is Vice Chair for Research in the Medicine Institute of the Cleveland Clinic and Director of the Center for Value-Based Care Research.

If you're curious about whether hydroxychloroquine works (spoiler: it doesn't), whether someone who's gotten COVID-19 can get it again (probably not for at least a few years), whether it's safe to eat in restaurants (probably not), whether masks work (they work to protect others, and it's just common decency to wear one), and whether asymptomatic people can have the virus (yup!) and spread it (double yup!!), then you just have to read this paragraph.

If you want the science, the backstories, the color commentary, and a fundamental understanding of how the coronavirus wreaks havoc in the body and what the current medical standard of care is, you'll have to listen to or watch our conversation.

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.


The Cleveland Clinic's Center for Value-Based Care

Looking for Transformational Change?

You know how when you discovered plant-based eating, you basically went, “Holy shit, how come the entire healthcare system isn't totally embracing this as one of the most powerful keys to disease prevention and reversal!”?

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You CAN Change Other People!

Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.

What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.

Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.

Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight

Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.

It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂

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The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.


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7 comments on “What We Know About COVID-19: The Science
Michael Rothberg, MD on PYP 423

  1. Barb says:

    Excellent interview! You two cut through all the noise and misinformation to present facts/science clearly. Thank you. Would be great if you could you have Dr. Rothberg on again in a month or so. He – like you – offers explanations in a calm, easy-to understand way. Stay safe!

  2. Mike Mair says:

    Hi Howard, I enjoy your podcasts, and I was wondering if you could give some opposing views on covid and masks given by Pam Popper. She presents evidence on her YouTube’s that the masks and testing are not effective and tests are very inaccurate. The other thing I’m concerned with is the money issue of hospitals/doctors being incentivized to report non covid deaths in the covid death tally.

    1. Howard says:

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Have you checked out Mic the Vegan’s exploration of the evidence around masks?

      The incentivization of skewed reporting would matter a lot if the death rate were the same this year as same time last year. But it’s much higher.

  3. Anthony Cook says:

    I was waiting for someone to mention budesonide

  4. Anthony Cook says:

    The (h-word) drug is meant to be a delivery agent for zinc – the idea is to give the two together. The zinc delivered effectively into the cells seriously inhibits viral replication in the cells. (h-word) by itself is not the recommended treatment.

    1. Howard says:

      We have to call it the “h-word” now? O Lord… 😉

      Do you have references to randomized controlled trials of h-word plus zinc showing efficacy and safety?

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