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Bill Gates: The Pandemic Has Erased Years of Progress

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our coverage of the The Atlantic Festival. Learn more and watch festival sessions here. In April 2018, I spoke with Bill Gates about two near certainties—that the world would eventually face a serious pandemic and that it was not prepared for one. Even then, Gates acknowledged that this was the rare scenario that...

Fauci to a Meddling HHS Official: ‘Take a Hike’

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our coverage of the The Atlantic Festival. Learn more and watch festival sessions here. Yesterday, after weeks of reports about political interference in the efforts of government scientists and public-health experts to inform Americans about the pandemic, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of...

Paging Dr. Hamblin: What If the Vaccine Works Only Half the Time?

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, James Hamblin takes questions from readers about health-related curiosities, concerns, and obsessions. Have one? Email him at paging.dr.hamblin@theatlantic.com.Dear Dr. Hamblin,I heard an immunologist on the radio today say that a coronavirus vaccine could be only 50 percent effective, in which case we’d still have to...

A Failure of Empathy Led to 200,000 Deaths. It Has Deep Roots.

Sometime this week, alone on a hospital bed, an American died. The coronavirus had invaded her lungs, soaking them in fluid and blocking the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide that makes up our every breath. Her immune system’s struggle to fight back might have sparked an overreaction called a cytokine storm, which shreds even healthy tissue. The...

The Core Lesson of the COVID-19 Heart Debate

Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here. Last Monday, when I called the cardiologist Amy Kontorovich in the late morning, she apologized for sounding tired. “I’ve been in my lab infecting heart cells with SARS-CoV-2 since 6 a.m. this morning,” she said.That might seem...

How We Survive the Winter

On April 13, Robert Redfield, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appeared on the Today show and assured viewers that the worst was nearly behind us. It had been a month since the last gathering of fans in an NBA arena; a month since the fateful week when Americans began panic-buying bottled water and canned beans. The...

Listen: Fires Outside, Virus Inside

While in California, Katherine Wells has been wearing two masks—one for the coronavirus, and one for the wildfire smoke—but she isn’t sure how to interpret the air-quality warnings. James Hamblin, her co-host on the podcast Social Distance, wants to know how air pollution such as smoke interacts with COVID-19.They called John Balmes, a pulmonologist...

The Pandemic Broke Online Shopping

All summer, I tried to buy things, and mostly I failed. I signed up for two separate wait lists for out-of-stock black spandex bike shorts, which I needed for the Peloton I had bought, itself back-ordered for two months. I also added my email address to a wait list for curtain rods, remembering how the shifting fall sun broils the kitchen table that’s...

Listen: Is Faster Better?

The federal government is telling states to prepare for a vaccine as early as November. But a major trial has been put on hold. On this episode of Social Distance, James Hamblin and Katherine Wells look to staff writer Sarah Zhang for answers—and updates on a vaccine.But before a vaccine arrives, is testing our best hope? Staff writer Alexis C. Madrigal...

The Fog of the Pandemic Is Returning

President Donald Trump has never hidden his ambivalence about testing for the coronavirus. In June, when he told an arena of supporters in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that he had instructed “his people” to “‘slow the testing down, please,’” the disclosure prompted one of the more dire news cycles of the pandemic. The president said repeatedly that he wanted the...

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