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One participant’s ethical quandaries

Photo: Pool/Getty Images

Nothing about volunteering in a Covid-19 vaccine trial felt like a sacrifice. When I eked out a spot at one of the NYC trial sites for the Pfizer vaccine in late summer, friends and family thanked me for putting myself on the line. Some questioned my decision because of how little was known about the maybe-vaccine and possible side effects. But all I felt was very, very lucky. …

A bioethicist argues that if the opportunity arises (without cheating the system) for you to get the vaccine early, you should take it

Illustration: Pablo Delcan

Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Two Washington D.C. men were offered the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine while shopping at a Giant Food supermarket on January 2. The pharmacist at the store told them that she had two leftover doses she’d have to throw out when the store closed in 10 minutes because the first responders who were scheduled to receive the vaccines had missed their appointments. One of the men, David MacMillan, posted a TikTok video of the chance encounter, paired to the mashup song “Celebrate the Good Times.” …

The invisible wounds of moral injury run deep for those on the front lines

Photo: San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers/Getty Images

“Some experiences imprint themselves beyond where language can speak.” These are the words of psychiatrist and trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk. This is also the experience of many health care workers ensnared in the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I just can’t… can’t find the words… there simply are none,” whispered a doctor friend working in a hospital in New York City’s viral epicenter. We were Zooming — both of our backgrounds dark. Through the screen’s dim glow, I watched her head fall into her hands and rock back and forth. Her shoulders slumped forward, and she started to shake.

Marie, I’ll…

A researcher learns the right thing to do when the wrong thing happens

Image: Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty Images

In 2018, I published a paper that reported the most interesting finding of my career. A year later, while trying to figure out why I couldn’t replicate the effect, I discovered a massive error in the original experiment. The central finding was the result of a software glitch and was completely untrue. I had published a paper with invalid data and false conclusions.

This research was about the cognitive effort people use while listening to speech — think of that feeling of “squinting your ears” while trying to understand someone in a noisy bar. The 2018 paper showed a clever…


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