A third season of the Overheard at National Geographic is in the works and will arrive in just a few weeks. In the meantime though, National Geographic released a special episode today, featuring a very interesting and relevant story about COVID-19.

The new episode is titled “The Virus Hunter,” and it focuses mostly on an interview with scientist Rolf Hilgenfeld who, even prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, was researching coronaviruses. Upon hearing of the outbreak, Hilgenfeld had developed a new molecule that could potentially stop the spread of the virus, and planned to fly to Wuhan, China to test it.

Unfortunately for him, a misinformed news outlet released a story touting him as a hero who was going to save people from this virus, long before he was ever even able to test his potential solution. Because of the media attention, Hilgenfeld was never even able to make it to Wuhan and was unable to test the new molecule.

This is a very interesting and informative episode of a podcast that, more often than not, fits both of those descriptors. Hilgenfeld’s knowledge is fascinating and his story is even more so. In less than 15 minutes, he (and the podcast in general) explains coronaviruses more effectively than most other sources out there right now.

Perhaps more fascinating than his knowledge though, is his story. He had a potential treatment for the virus, one which still needed to be tested and run through countless trials. Still, a news outlet reported that he was going to stop the virus, causing a frenzy and bringing his work to a halt.

The episode also brings on a National Geographic science desk editor who has been helping to coordinate their coverage of the virus. He discusses how misinformation can spread, much like the virus and potentially be just as dangerous.

As you could probably guess just from the title of the episode, this is not a light-hearted, fun distraction from what’s going on in the world today. Instead, it’s a very interesting story and a lot of information regarding exactly what’s going on, crammed into a compact 15-minute episode. It follows the Overheard at National Geographic model in that way, so if you’ve enjoyed previous episodes and you’re not trying to completely avoid news or stories about COVID-19, you’ll enjoy “The Virus Hunter” as well.

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