🚨I wrote about public health’s history; why it spent the 20thC moving away from broad coalitions, political advocacy, and a crusading spirit that actively pushed for social reforms; and why it must regain those things to be relevant and effective. 1/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
Public health is often cast as an underdog, invisible & ignored. That’s not the full story. In the 20thC, it made choices that silenced its voice, reduced its constituency, minimized its power. It “actively participated in its own marginalization.” 2/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
Germ theory was a revolution that gave public health license to be less revolutionary. It allowed the field to move away from the social problems that underlie poor health towards a blinkered, individualistic, biomedical model—to its detriment, and ours. theatlantic.com/health/archive…
This is not a critique of today's local public health folks, who’ve been asked for the world at great cost.

This is a look at how we got to here, the legacy of historical choices that trap modern public health in fragility, and what needs to change. 4/

So much of the discourse around pandemics focuses, essentially, on whether we have sufficient stuff.

This piece is part of an ongoing series about whether we’re even thinking about this entire category of problem in the right way. /5

A headline/subheading combo that we almost used for this piece was:

A Century-Old Idea That Could Revitalize Public Health

(It’s… er… public health.)

I did a bunch of reading for this piece on public health’s history in the US, but this paper was probably the best of them. It’s free, sweeping, and powerfully written. Recommended if you want to learn more about the themes in my piece ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P…
Writing this piece made me think that public health and journalism are actually very similar--fields whose foundational missions should push them to oppose power, and whose structural problems can make them subservient to it. theatlantic.com/health/archive…

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More from @edyong209

8 Oct
I wrote about planarian flatworms that reproduce by tearing themselves in two.

Each piece behaves like a full animal; the front of the tail fragment will start acting like a head.

Each piece will regenerate a complete body, regrowing a brain if needed

This piece begins with an animal ripping itself in two. And then it gets weird. theatlantic.com/science/archiv…
It’s an enormous if temporary relief to be writing a weird-nature story again theatlantic.com/science/archiv…
Read 5 tweets
2 Oct
This is the introductory essay that I wrote for the Best American Science & Nature Writing Anthology, which I edited this year. (Out Oct 12)

It’s about what it means to be a science writer, and how the pandemic changed the way I think about the field.

Here’s the anthology, which you can preorder. I’m so proud of this selection and the 26 amazing writers whose pieces are featured. bookshop.org/books/the-best…
Also I wrote this essay in February, while still on book leave. It’s interesting how much it thematically overlaps with the piece I wrote this week, down to the Virchow ref and the germ theory bit. I promise this isn’t suddenly a Virchow stan account.

Read 4 tweets
29 Sep
🚨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/
Read 10 tweets
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

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