The Science Behind Coronavirus: The Complete Video Series

Dear Readers,

I’m writing this letter to you not just as the executive chairman of the Los Angeles Times, but as a clinical scientist and surgeon. I hope to provide you with a scientific understanding of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and allay the fear this outbreak has caused.

This virus is certainly the pathogen of our times. It is precisely because it is a new virus, never before experienced by a human being, that it has become a pandemic – and has elicited the misinformation that spreads confusion and fear.

It is indeed a deadly virus and must be taken seriously. But we, as a society, have the power to mitigate the spread. More importantly, I am confident that the world’s community of scientists have the skills and supercomputing tools to win this war. And it is a war. Every day matters. Every hour matters.

Through a series of short videos, I explain how we can all do our part. I’m pleased to provide a summary of the series and a description of each episode below.

It is my hope and goal that this note can bring some scientific understanding and insight to bear against this pandemic, and bring our community the knowledge and confidence so that we collectively can beat it.

By understanding how the virus attacks our body we can develop strategies to defeat it. Treatments are close. Vaccines are a little further off. Fear of the unknown is heightened by the extremely high infection rate and a fatality rate 20 times higher than we have experienced with influenza.

The confusion regarding testing, treatment and resources has created panic. The pandemic is serious, but we need not panic if we can understand the issues we as a community can control and what we can do to mitigate the spread. The videos are available now on the L.A. Times mobile app. I urge our readers to download the app, watch the videos and send any questions to

Be safe and take care of each other.


Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD
Executive Chairman
Los Angeles Times

List of Episodes

Intro: Los Angeles Times Presents The Science Behind the Coronavirus
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the executive chairman of the Los Angeles Times, offers an overview of our special series, The Science Behind the Coronavirus. In this introduction, Soon-Shiong proposes that understanding how the virus infects our bodies and strategies toward treatment can help us allay our anxiety about it.

Part 1: What is the coronavirus?
In this segment of our special series, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong explains the evolution of the coronavirus — how it came to be, and how it interacts with the body.

Part 2: How deadly is the coronavirus?
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong continues our special series, The Science Behind the Coronavirus, with a look at the deadly threat of the virus.

Part 3: How contagious is the coronavirus?
In this segment of our series The Science Behind the Coronavirus, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong examines the speed with which the coronavirus spreads.

Part 4: Symptoms associated with infection
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, continues our special series. In this segment, Soon-Shiong examines the symptoms associated with infection.

Part 5: The science of soap
In this segment of our special series, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong explains the power of a simple act: washing your hands, and why this act can destroy the envelope of the coronavirus.

Part 6: Strategies for treatment
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong breaks down methods scientists are contemplating as they seek a treatment for the coronavirus. Soon-Shiong also examines the difference between a treatment and a vaccine.

Part 7: How long will the pandemic last?
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong examines how long the coronavirus pandemic could last, and how the actions we take — from washing our hands to social distancing — will help “flatten the curve.”