Each month brings another grim harvest. When I last sent out a newsletter on May 1, the United States had suffered 64,203 deaths from Covid-19. Today the total has reached 108,708. As researchers probe the overall death rate, the full toll of the pandemic continues to come into sharper focus.
Countries and states that went into lockdown over the past couple months are now starting to loosen their controls. It seems as if a lot of people think this means that the pandemic is over. But there are still plenty of new covid-19 cases every day, and these folks could potentially infect a lot of other people if they board a bus, teach a yoga class, join a choir practice, or do any number of other things that have been shown to let the virus spread quickly from person to person.
In the past month, we have also learned that only a few percent of people in most hard-hit states and countries have gotten infected, which means that there are many potential hosts left. The combination of vulnerable people and rushing back to life as normal could very well create new spikes as high or higher than this spring’s. Unfortunately, we may not notice these resurgences until they’re well underway and hard to stop.
I’ve kept myself busy with covid reporting over the past month, except for the occasional snake…
On May 2, I helped write a story on the state of the global vaccine race.
On May 20, I reported a bunch of news on vaccines: the results of a trial on monkeys, an infographic on the different kinds of vaccines in development, and another co-authored overview of the state of the global vaccine race (which changed a lot over the 18 days since our first take!).
A week later, I wrote about a new study that sheds more light on how the coronavirus spread from China to Europe and North America. January and February saw a lot of false starts before the outbreaks took off–showing the full scale of the tragedy that let us miss the pandemic’s onset.
On the first day of June, I offered some advice on how to read a scientific paper about covid-19.
Finally (so far), here’s a piece on some of the first genetic variations that look like they may make some people more prone to getting really sick with covid-19. I was none too pleased to learn that my own blood type, A, may make me at greater risk.
Off the printed page, I had a great chat with Alan Alda on his podcast Clear+Vivid about parasites, belly button bacteria, and all sorts of other stuff. (This episode may sound strange, because we recorded it in the before-times, when covid-19 did not loom over us all.) I was also a guest on WNPR to talk about what we know about the disease, and talked at a New York Times Event about what we’ll need to get this pandemic behind us.
That’s all for now. Stay safe!
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Best wishes, Carl
Originally published June 5, 2020. Copyright 2020 Carl Zimmer.