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The Self-Help That No One Needs Right Now

Nothing about The Body Keeps the Score screams “best seller.” Written by the psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, the book is a graphic account of his decades-long career treating survivors of traumatic experiences such as rape, incest, and war. Page after page, readers are asked to wrestle with van der Kolk’s theory that trauma can sever the connection...

‘I Don’t Know That I Would Even Call It Meth Anymore’

In the fall of 2006, law enforcement on the southwest border of the United States seized some crystal methamphetamine. In due course, a five-gram sample of that seizure landed on the desk of a 31-year-old chemist named Joe Bozenko, at the Drug Enforcement Administration lab outside Washington, D.C.Organic chemistry can be endlessly manipulated, with...

Should You Mix and Match Your Booster Shot?

In this week’s installment of the booster chronicles, the plot is picking up. An advisory committee to the FDA began a two-day meeting today to formulate recommendations for whether the agency should authorize additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. (The FDA still has to authorize, and the CDC still has to recommend,...

Flu Season Is a Choice

Perhaps the oddest consolation prize of America’s crushing, protracted battle with the coronavirus is the knowledge that flu season, as we’ve long known it, does not have to exist.It’s easy to think of the flu as an immutable fact of winter life, more inconvenience than calamity. But each year, on average, it sickens roughly 30 million Americans and...

9 Pandemic Words That Almost No One Gets Right

One of the best and toughest parts of being a science writer is acting as a kind of jargon liaison. Weird, obscure, aggressively multisyllabic words appear in scientific discourse; I, wielding nothing but a Google Doc, a cellphone, and the Powers of the Internet™, wrest these terms from their academic hidey-holes and try to pin them down with some endearing...

Timing Is Everything for Merck’s COVID Pill

Two years into the pandemic, we’ve gotten a lot better at tackling the coronavirus at the extremes of infection. We have preventives—including masks, distancing, ventilation, and our MVP vaccines—that can be deployed in advance of a viral encounter. We have regimens of last resort: drugs, such as dexamethasone, that do their best, lifesaving work in...

A Better Way to Think About Your Risk for COVID

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET on October 6, 2021On the surface, the September 24 announcement from the head of the CDC outlining who, exactly, would be eligible for COVID-19 booster shots seemed like a clarifying moment. But even as the agency’s leader, Rochelle Walensky, declared the need to make “concrete recommendations that optimize health,” the new guidance...

We Need a Better Way to Talk About Booster Shots

The word booster kicked off the pandemic benign and simple, a chipper concept most people linked to things such as morale and rockets. Then, at the start of 2021, the word began to undergo a renaissance. By summer’s end, booster was a common fixture of headlines and Twitter trends; it was suddenly tethered tightly to words such as shot, vaccine, and...

Why Are Americans Still—Still!—Wearing Cloth Masks?

Every time I leave my apartment, I grab a mask from the stack by the door. After all these months of pandemic life, I’ve amassed a pretty big collection: Some are embroidered, while others bear the faded logos of the New York Public Library or the TV show Nailed It. What all of them have in common is that they’re made of cloth.At this point, cloth masks...

Did Pfizer Peak Too Soon?

The Delta variant’s arrival this summer delivered a blow to the nation’s entire coronavirus arsenal, but its impact on the champion of last year’s vaccine race—Pfizer—has been particularly humbling. Compared with Moderna’s competing shot, Pfizer’s vaccine seems to induce half the amount of virus-fighting antibodies, and is associated with nearly twice...

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