Ed Yong Profile picture
16 Dec, 11 tweets, 4 min read
🚨Well, I wrote about Omicron--what we know & what it means.

I feel the core problem is unchanged: The variant poses a much greater threat at the societal level than the individual one, making it the kind of problem the US has consistently flubbed. 1/
First, a clarification. It's v. easy to ascribe everything to the new variant but even if Omicron hadn’t emerged, we’d still looking at a bad winter.

Hospitalizations are rising. 1000+ deaths /day. That’s Delta. What’ll Omicron do *on top of that*? 2/
This piece analyzes that question at 2 scales—individual and societal. Individually, things are... not great but also not catastrophic. Societally, I am sad to say it’s bleaker.

I won’t tweet the whole piece, but here are some key points. 3/
In simple terms, everyone should assume they’re less protected than they were 2 months ago. But if vaccinated (and esp. if boosted), some protection persists (and esp. against severe disease). A setback, then, but honestly could've been worse. 4/
The big problem is Omicron’s incredible speed. It's VERY good at spreading, due to some unclear combo of inherent transmissibility and/or skill at dodging immune defenses.

Bottom line: There’s about to be a huge wave of Omicron infections. 5/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
“But isn’t Omicron milder?” 4 reasons for caution.
▶️Might simply be that it has mostly infected young people w/ some immunity.
▶️“Mild” infections can -> long COVID.
▶️Extreme transmissibility trumps reduced virulence.
▶️(see next tweet)
I cannot stress this enough: The healthcare system cannot take any more. Don’t ask if Omicron will overwhelm it. It *is already overwhelmed.*

As one doc told me, “The level of care that we’ve come to expect in our hospitals no longer exists.” 7/
There's more in the piece, & the last section goes into what this means—antivirals, testing, Omicron’s origins, endemicity, and more.

And I also have a second related piece coming out tomorrow. 8/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
That’s all I’ve got for you. I hate that we’re here. If people are tired of reading these pieces, I guarantee that I’m more tired of writing them. But we’re still here. And I still care about Covid. 9/

PS. We fixed a small admin error, so this piece, which was briefly behind our paywall, should now be free and in front of it.
If you’ve read this thread or piece and are struggling to work out how to apply it to holiday-season choices you have to make, here’s my attempt to work through one such personal decision. Maybe it’ll help. theatlantic.com/health/archive…

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More from @edyong209

24 Nov
🚨I wrote about healthcare workers with long-COVID, & how their experience changed their view of medicine.

HCWs & long-haulers are often framed in opposition, but here's the story of people who sit across both worlds. 1/

Most medically trained long-haulers I interviewed were shocked at how quick their own peers were to disregard their medical expertise and tell them their symptoms were in their heads. Their status as patients completely subsumed their qualifications. 2/
Healthcare workers w/ long COVID have told me that their own doctor made the finger-circling-a-temple gesture at them, or told them “hormones do funny things to women.” For some, the experience has shattered their trust in their own profession. 3/
Read 10 tweets
23 Nov
We published this a week ago. Every day since, my inbox has filled with emails from HCWs who say it reflects their reality & mental state. Their messages are heartbreaking--stories of pain, anger, and moral distress, sometimes at essay-length, from people who've had enough.
There are people who want to leave but are trapped by debt, people who saw medicine as a calling but can't cope any more, people who feel so hollow that they're strangers to their loved ones, people who are staring at what looks a lot like another winter surge with utter horror.
In a way, it's gratifying to hear messages from people who say they finally feel seen, or who are thankful for something they can use to explain what's happening to their families. It's good to feel that these pieces make a difference to at least some people.
Read 7 tweets
16 Nov
🚨During surges, much is written about healthcare workers burning out. But they often get by on adrenaline only to find, once ICUs are empty, that so are they.

In the US, 1/5 have left. More plan too. I wrote about the hemorrhage happening right now. 1/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
I spoke to so many healthcare workers who’ve been broken by the pandemic—by the traumas they saw, the institutions that failed them, the moral distress of being unable to do their job. Many thought they were in medicine for life. They’ve quit, too. 2/

COVID is hard to treat. It quickly inundates hospitals.
Healthcare workers aren't quitting because they can’t handle their jobs. They’re quitting because they can’t handle *being unable to do their jobs*. 3/

Read 10 tweets
10 Nov
End of an era. Flash Forward was a singular thing.

And no single journalist more heavily influenced my approach to pandemic coverage than Rose.

For years, I've marvelled at how she seamlessly wove science with history, culture, and sociology... 1/3

... how she eschewed easy technocratic solutions to complex problems; how she centered disabled, queer, POC, and other marginalized voices; and perhaps most importantly, how she maintained a core of hope even when talking about the bleakest futures. 2/3
She did all that, and for most of Flash Forward's life, she did it *single-handedly*, without the production crews that many popular podcasts have.

She's an inspiration, and a dear, dear friend. I can't wait to see what she does next. 3/3
Read 6 tweets
3 Nov
The whales killed during the 20th century collectively weighed 2x more than all the wild mammals alive today.

A new study reveals the enormous hole that their slaughter left in the ocean, and suggests a bold path for restoration.

My latest: theatlantic.com/science/archiv…
Pre-industrial whaling, whales ate 2x as much krill as exist today every year. Or 2x the global fisheries catch.

Which was fine because their poop fertilized the same food webs that they gorged upon. When the whales were killed, those webs imploded.
One possible but controversial solution is to add iron to former whaling grounds, jumpstarting food webs that the whales once fuelled themselves.

This plan is essentially humans cosplaying as giant piles of shit, which we should be *amazing* at by now

Read 4 tweets
25 Oct
There's a lot of Facebook coverage out there today, but I want to especially highlight this piece by Adrienne, not just because it's amazing in itself, but because it represents the latest of a deeply incisive series, all of which you should read 1/
Pair it, for example, with this piece from last December about Facebook as a doomsday machine. 2/ theatlantic.com/technology/arc…
And follow those up with this piece from Sept on Facebook as an autocratic state. 3/

Read 5 tweets

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