7. The Atlantic: How Science Beat the Virus
Everything I’ve read that Ed Yong has written about the pandemic has been so thorough and nuanced, and so necessary. In this article, Yong discusses how the pandemic has changed science in that “as of this writing, the biomedical library PubMed lists more than 74,000 COVID-related scientific papers—more than twice as many as there are about polio, measles, cholera, dengue, or other diseases that have plagued humanity for centuries.”
Apart from the sheer volume of scientific articles about COVID-19, the ways in which the field is addressing those problems is also shifting, harkening back to theories developed by Rudolf Virchow, the “father of modern pathology.” Virchow, 170 years ago, “advocate[d] for social reforms” when he investigated a typhus epidemic in Upper Silesia, observing that “its spread was possible because of malnutrition, hazardous working conditions, crowded housing, poor sanitation, and the inattention of civil servants and aristocrats—problems that require social and political reforms,” although he had not identified the disease.
Today, “To study COVID‑19 is not only to study the disease itself as a biological entity… What looks like a single problem is actually all things, all at once. So what we’re actually studying is literally everything in society, at every scale, from supply chains to individual relationships,” says the Social Science Research Council president, Alondra Nelson, who is quoted in this article.
This is a must-read on the future of the pandemic, of science, and of how both intersect with countless social systems and highlight the inequities that have always been present.