Ed Yong Profile picture
29 Sep, 10 tweets, 4 min read
🚨Here's my new piece about our great challenge—control this pandemic while ALSO averting the next. For centuries, the US has been stuck in a Sisyphean cycle of panic & neglect. It can break that loop, but the window of opportunity is already closing. 1/
The opening chapter of the next pandemic is being written right now. I know, I know. Next one?! Can’t we get through this one first? No, sadly, we can't. History tells us we don't have time. Learn from the past immediately, or repeat it imminently. 2/
In some ways, Delta was an audition for the next pandemic--and one that we flubbed. Many of the actions we took this spring were headlong dives into the neglect phase of the cycle. This is a warning about how swiftly complacency can set in. 3/
In the 1930s, public health got just 3.3 cents per medical $; in the 2010s, it got 2.5. For every investment, an equal & opposite disinvestment. The system needs repair. But policy-makers in more than half of states have moved to weaken it further. 4/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
I look at *why* the panic-neglect cycle exists, including 150 years that led to America’s crumbling public health system & its obsession with biomedical panaceas. That history is vital. It’s why we think about this pandemic the way we do. 5/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
We need to think about preparedness differently, in terms of not just vaccines & tech solutions, but also social measures like paid sick leave, universal healthcare, and more. Social equity is not a side-quest of preparedness but its foundation. 6/

Some of that is happening. Biden’s American Rescue Plan is an incredibly important pandemic-preparedness bill that doesn't look like one. But more needs to happen, and neglect is already setting in. The pull of normal is strong but normal led to this. 7/

You can sort of see this piece as the third in a trilogy. I wrote the first in 2018, when I asked if the US was ready for the next pandemic, and tried to work out what "preparedness" even means. 8/ theatlantic.com/magazine/archi…
I wrote the second last summer; it explores the many ways in which America's seemingly strong society was exquisitely vulnerable to a pandemic. This piece was much wider than the first, and reflects how my understanding of preparedness changed. 9/

Those lessons are codified in this new piece. One of the people I interviewed described this as “the most important piece about the pandemic that had not yet been written.” I hope I did it justice. I hope we can break the cycle. Fin/

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More from @edyong209

1 Sep
🚨I wrote a new piece about long-COVID, its future, and what long-haulers want.

The biomedical community is paying more attention but research is slow & often disregards the vast expertise that long-haulers have amassed about their own condition. 1/

When I first reported on long COVID last June, few scientists or medics knew about it. When I described it to one disease expert, he said, “That’s unusual.” But it wasn’t—even then.

Things are better now. More recognition, coverage, studies. But… 2/

Many long-haulers (and allied researchers) are frustrated about ongoing dismissal, flawed & inefficient research that ignores their needs & expertise, & watching people rediscover things they already knew. Academia is slow; their needs are urgent. 3/

Read 11 tweets
12 Aug
🚨I wrote a big piece about how Delta affects the pandemic endgame.

Many folks are upset & confused by the last month. Here's an attempt to reset expectations, lay out our goals, map the near-term future, & show how the pandemic ends--which it will. 1/

The bottom line: Vaccines remain the best way for *individuals* to protect themselves, but *societies* can't treat them as the only defense. Delta is so transmissible that vacc'n can blunt it, but we still need masks & the rest. 2/

The endgame is endemicity—the virus will still be here but won’t cause as much damage due to widespread immunity. Most people will meet it. The goals are: ensure as many as poss do so after 2 vax doses; and spread the other infections out. 3/
Read 7 tweets
22 Jul
🚨Unvaccinated people aren't a monolith. It's a huge mistake to treat them all as anti-vaxxers who are being selfish or antagonistic.

I spoke to @RheaBoydMD about why some folks are still unvaccinated, what to do about it, & why she's still hopeful. 1/

.@RheaBoydMD's views on vaccines, and why some people still haven't got theirs, are smart and nuanced. Perhaps more importantly, they're also wise and compassionate. She has certainly helped me rethink the problem. I hope you'll read this interview 2/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
So much of the vaccine discourse, and the blame placed on "the unvaccinated", ignores the big lingering issue of access--not only to vaccines, but to good info around them--and, by extension, longstanding inequalities of race and class in the US. 3/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
Read 6 tweets
16 Jul
🚨I wrote about what Delta is doing to Missouri. Some hospitals have accrued as many COVID-19 patients in 5 weeks as they got in 5 months last year. Almost all those patients are unvaccinated. HCWs can't believe they're being overwhelmed *again*. 1/

It was just crushing to hear Missouri's HCWs say the same things that I was hearing last fall/winter. Many of them told me that this surge is worse for them than the last one. They thought they were done. They're exhausted. 2/

This time round, Missouri's ICUs are filling with younger patients--once healthy people in their 30s & 40s. That's partly cos elderly folks are more likely to be vax'd. But everyone told me the 30-yr-olds they're seeing now are sicker than those last yr.

Read 6 tweets
8 Jul
When birds first appeared, they couldn't taste sugar. Some ancient Australian birds evolved that ability by repurposing a sensor for umami into one for sweetness. And they gave rise to the entire songbird dynasty--half the world's species.

New from me: theatlantic.com/science/archiv…
I didn’t know, before reporting on this story, that songbirds—the huge group that includes robins, jays, starlings, cardinals & finches—originated in Australia. Or that very specific conditions there were a massive boon for bird evolution.
Much of this piece is based on a new paper (linked to in the text) that packs an *incredible* amount of work into a few pages. There are probably years-long experiments packed into single sentences.

Read 5 tweets
14 Jun
Good morning! Let me recommend some books.

First, @alicebell's OUR BIGGEST EXPERIMENT--an epic narrative about climate change, and how we came to understand it. It's astonishing in its scope and ambition. Out Sept 21.

In WILD SOULS, @Emma_Marris thinks through our relationship with wild animals and the very concept of wild-ness. Beautifully written and with piercing moral clarity. A guidepost for the future. Out Jun 21.

In a similar vein, BELOVED BEASTS by @nijhuism tells the story of the modern conservation movement, warts and all, and the people who dedicated their lives to saving those of other species. Insightful, compassionate, and always honest. Out now.

Read 10 tweets

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