Broadcast 3496 Dr. Doug Plata

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Dr. Doug Plata;  Topics:  Covid-19 pandemic here on Earth, looking at preventing pandemics and infections in space and on space settlements.


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We welcomed back to the program Dr. Doug Plata to give us both his medical and public health perspective on the Covid-19 pandemic.  During the second part of the program, we talked about keeping unwanted pathogens and disease away from space colonies.  This program was a two segment 2 hour 8 minute comprehensive discussion with Dr. Doug.  In addition, during the pause between the first and second segments, I read our important sponsor messages.

Our program with Dr. Plata started with Doug telling us how this program came about.  For the most part, Doug got the idea from a phone call from Marshall.  During the early part of our discussion, our guest spent time talking about the difference between Covid-19 and a typical flu.  This part of our discussion was important as it served as a foundation for our entire discussion.  Doug packed it full of information plus he referenced the supplemental data he posted on the blog so I suggest you follow along when he tells us to go to one of the links in his post.  See his blog post from Sunday morning for the blog for this particular program. 

One thing Doug did was compare the US to other countries with one of his links.  He spent time discussing Sweden but please read the post from our listener from Sweden as he provided us with an up to date review of the Swedish Covid-19 situation.  You will find the post on our blog for this show.  Listeners asked Doug multiple emails about the information on the links he was using so do note his responses.  Listeners also asked him about medical aspects of treatment.  Doug graded the US response to Covid-19 as a C- but was hard pressed to explain US numbers.  Listen to what he said about that. As an add on, given this summary is being published late, based on new antibody testing for Santa Clara County, CA (mentioned on air) and the ne LA County testing by USC, it appears that 40-85 times more people are positive with the virus than previously thought.  If these early tests are correct, it would appear that Covid-19 has a much lower mortality rate than previously thought plus there are far more people on the street with antibodies which might be helpful in fighting the spread of the virus or those getting sick from it.

Ft. Worth John wanted to know about a possible second infection wave later in the year.  Don't miss what Doug said about a second wave.  He indicated it would be expected.  Marshall called wanting to know if there was any type of a standard on international death certificates. Marshall was questioning mortality death rates, asking how one knows if the patient died of the virus or a medical condition the patient might have had.  Don't miss how Doug responded to Marshall's questions.  They also talked about less than credible Chinese statistics.  I then asked Doug a question I have been asking on multiple programs regarding what happens to a patient when put on ventilator.  Doug did talk about the process, explaining how they work.  I asked him to compare it to the old fashioned iron lung which he did.  Before the break, Doug talked about the ventilators that Elon Musk was to have delivered.  As it turned out he delivered a type of CPAP breathing assistance machine or what is known as a BIPAP.  We talked about this type of machine used for Sleep Apnea versus a ventilator that actually breathes for the person.  Again, a very interesting discussion, don't miss it.

We started the second segment with Doug talking about getting a vaccine for Covid-19.  This discussion evolved into talking about the need for accurate data for quality analysis.  Doug then turned our attention to space.

Doug started the space discussion by talking about what needed to be done to keep harmful species from getting to the space colony.  He went through a list of organisms, pathogens, viruses and more, calling them dangerous, useful, unknown or maybe helpful  The list was not complete but it did give us an idea of how much is out there that we need to keep away from the settlements.  Before moving on, Doug got a few questions about using existing medications to possibly treat the virus.  One example was using BCG which is a tuberculosis vaccine.   

Doug turned his attention to the survival colony and the minimal technologies need to sustain the colony being independent of Earth.  He talked about the lunar surface and how different it would be from the Martian surface or an orbital space station.  I asked Doug how gravity might impact a virus in space.  Don't miss his reply to this question.  Listener Rick asked Doug for a comparison with a space colony and Biosphere 2 to keep harmful bugs out of the colony.  Doug was not enthusiastic about the comparison or Biosphere 2.  Don't miss he comments on this subject.  Karen from Seattle sent in a note asking it a drug worked on Earth does that mean it would work in space.  He suggested it would. 

Freemont John called with many questions regarding the survival colony. Doug suggested the minimum number needed for a survival colony would be eight people.  Listen to their discussion around what is known as the Full Time Equivalent (FTE).   A listener emailed us asking Doug about the economic toll of unemployment vis a vis drug overdoses and suicides.  Doug returned to the space topic and talked about a survival colony not having an ROI so the economics would be different.  He said the major goal would be Earth Independence, not having an ROI.  Quarantine came up as a strategy.  We talked about the crew for the recent launch to the ISS being in quarantine for several weeks.  The same was planned for the crew for the May launch of Crew Dragon to the ISS.

John in Redding called to talk about the antibody study going on.  He also brought up the Santa Clara County study previously mentioned showing the likelihood of up to 85 times more people being positive with the virus than previously thought to be the case.  John brought up more on the economic side with some stats for drug overdoses and suicides resulting from unemployment, recession and even a depression.  I asked Doug about using autopsy's to confirm cause of death.  Doug had much to say on this subject as did I.

Tony from Pasadena sent us a note, then later he called before the program ended.  He wanted to know if Doug had seen the movie Contagion.  He also asked about S. Korea and their experience plus China came back into the conversation.  When Tony called later before the program ended, he gave us a quick movie review of his recommended movie.  Doug offered us a short summary plus he again said he thought we were caught flat footed with this pandemic. Listen to how he described what he meant in using that term. 

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show.  You can reach Dr. Doug Plata through me or his website,






Covid & the space industry, epidemics in space and more. Dr. Doug is a public health doctor in private practice in Los Angeles, CA

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19 Apr 2020 Dr. Doug Plata
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  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference