Entries by Martha Nelson

Flirting with Normalcy in Year 3 of the Pandemic

Americans’ desire for normalcy is beginning to outweigh fear of the virus. But as we loosen the belt, we need to do so strategically. A guiding principle is to loosen the belt during refractory periods between variant waves and tighten the belt as variants spread like wildfire to “flatten the curve” on explosive growth to […]

The Path Forward: An Interview with Myself

Interviewer: Nice to see you. You haven’t said anything in a while. Me: I’m burned out. Interviewer: Join the club. But we’re out of this pandemic hellhole soon, right? Me: I have no crystal ball. But we’ve been watching respiratory virus pandemics for more than a hundred years. There have been at least five – […]

Another Round of COVID Confusion

You heard: Breakthrough infections are uncommon. What that means: Breakthrough infections are uncommon when you look at the totality of data spanning from when vaccines began to be rolled out in December 2020. The New York Times and other papers often cite a Kaiser Family Foundation report that states Almost all (more than 9 in […]

The Day I Got Harassed For Jogging Without a Mask

“Wear a mask!” I stopped running and wheeled around. A middle-aged woman ambled towards me on DC’s Glover-Archibald hiking trail. She was alone and walked with a long stick. “Wear a mask!” she repeated, closing to within five yards of me. “Don’t judge me,” I glowered.   “I’m not judging you, I just want you […]

The Coming COVID-19 War: Vaccinating Children

If you thought controversies over masks and lab-leaks were fever pitched, just hold your hats until the COVID-19 vaccine is licensed for kids under 12 this fall. Nothing gets Americans lathered up like policies that affect the safety of their kids. The diversity of opinions on this matter is about to skyrocket because the cost-benefits […]

Why We Will Never Know the Real Origins of SARS-CoV-2

COVID-19 slashed red tape and poured in government funding to spark giant leaps forward in scientific innovation, most prominently in vaccinology but also behind-the-scenes in genetic sequencing to track a fast-evolving virus generating new variants. These developments set the stage for promising new strategies for a range of infectious disease threats, from malaria to influenza. […]

Mutants on the Rise

TL;DR: New variants cropping up globally are headed to America and threaten to overwhelm hospitals. Our highly potent vaccines still protect pretty well against new strains, but we are not rolling out vaccine fast enough to prevent new epidemic spikes. November’s announcement of highly effective COVID-19 vaccines brought a refreshing break in the otherwise bleak […]

Can Americans Win at Game Theory?

From childhood, I was determined not to become an economist. My father was an economics professor. So was his father, sister, and brother-in-law. I don’t know what other families talk about at the dinner table. My family talked about airline deregulation. My father was conservative, his relatives were liberal, and the same circular arguments about […]