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What is luciferase and what does it have to do with vaccines?

One of the latest vaccine rumors centers around luciferase, a (perhaps) unfortunately named protein that is as harmless as a firefly. This post tackles where this rumor came from, tells how luciferase got its name, and explains how you can be sure that the vaccines aren’t using bioluminescence to track people.

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If you’re vaccinated, why does it matter if I am not?

The vaccine mandates have led some to question vaccine effectiveness. If the vaccines really work, they argue, then why do the vaccinated care if others choose not to get the vaccine? This post tackles what it means to say a vaccine “works,” and explains how my neighbor’s vaccination status impacts me.

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Kristen Panthagani

I’m Dr. Kristen Panthagani, MD, PhD. I’m a physician-scientist with a PhD in Genetics who likes to help people understand science.  I saw a lot of people getting unnecessarily confused by inaccurate claims flying around, and I started this blog to help clarify some of those things.

Data Visualizations


"Dr. Panthagani has an unmatched ability to take complex, nuanced concepts and break them down into easily understandable nuggets, backed whenever possible by rigorous evidence and data. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I have especially enjoyed the numerous visualization tools that she has developed for the “You Can Know Things” updates, which have enabled many of us to better explain to the lay public certain paradoxes that have been an inevitable consequence of the pandemic." Dr. Anirban Maitra, M.B.B.S., Professor, MD Anderson Cancer Center
"Kristen is a rising star in the field of science communication. As a meteorologist, particularly one interested in the communication challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, I have found Kristen’s ability to explain complex aspects of the evolving information in understandable and accessible language to be both interesting and very helpful. Because of this, her blog has been indispensable through the pandemic, and I suspect it will continue to be a must-follow beyond the pandemic as well." Matt Lanza, Managing Editor, Space City Weather
"I can’t count the number of times I have shared one of Kristen’s articles to explain a point. I always learn something new and find a new perspective reading this well-researched content. I appreciate the timeliness and links to sources that I can read further if I want to delve deeper."
"Without you, I wouldn’t know what information to trust. Thank you for everything you do, we wait for every new post."

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