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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Pandemic

In Elemental. More on Medium.

The longer the wider world remains unvaccinated, the greater the risk that a devastating new variant will emerge

Photo by Yolanda Sun on Unsplash

In a letter recently obtained by The Guardian newspaper, more than 100 former presidents and heads of state urged the leaders of the world’s wealthiest countries to do much more — to commit more money, in particular, but also more aid and resources — toward making and distributing vaccines across the globe.

“No one anywhere is safe from Covid-19 until everyone is safe everywhere,” the letter’s signatories wrote, according to The Guardian.

That’s not just lofty talk, and it’s not just a plea for the sake of the unvaccinated. That is cold reality.

Apart from the deadly threat that the…


Anyone need a 25-gallon drum of hand sanitizer?

Photo: Tai's Captures/Unsplash

Every era leaves behind its flotsam and jetsam—posters, buttons, Livestrong rubber bracelets, hot pants, leaflets, what-have-you. The Covid Era will be no different. In fact, it might be the most flotsam-y and jetsam-y of all eras, if the looks of my front hallway are any indication.

For most of us, the beginning of the pandemic was a shopping frenzy. First, when Covid was still a weird, distant flu that cropped up in a nursing home or two, I began buying cute cloth masks. This was an innocent moment when I was still self-conscious about wearing a mask and wanted to…


It will take time and patience to reemerge from the collective crisis of the pandemic with our mental and physical health intact

Photo: Bankim Desai/Unsplash

When I met Darren Sudman six years ago, at an event in Palm Springs, I didn’t expect that his story would be one that I would return to time and again as I began examining what makes us thrive and heal after difficult times.

Sudman introduced himself as a former lawyer and a founder of a nonprofit. In 2004, Sudman and his wife, Phyllis, experienced every parent’s worst nightmare: Their three-month-old son, Simon, was found motionless in his crib. …


Here’s what living with it feels like

Photo: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona/Unsplash

You know the doctor’s appointment isn’t starting well when the nurse looks at the blood pressure cuff and frowns. “Did I put it too tight,” she asks, “Is your circulation all right?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I reply absently. “I haven’t been able to feel that arm in a couple of days.” I show her the lump in my elbow and explain there’s one in my neck and one in my back. They’re everywhere, as a matter of fact. And those lumps mean one thing to me: no feeling, or if I’m lucky, pins and needles.

She takes my blood…


The evolutionary argument for happy hour

Photo by Caro Sheridan

Did you find yourself drinking too much during Covid shutdown? You’re not alone. Well, metaphorically at least. From mid-March to mid-May 2020, during the initial phase of the pandemic, alcohol sales around the world skyrocketed, increasing anywhere from 40% to 60% over pre-pandemic levels, with distilled liquor sales increasing more rapidly than sales of wine and beer. Some analysts argued that this retail surge merely reflected a shift from drinking at bars and restaurants to imbibing at home, but this in itself is a serious concern.

That is because, even if we were not alone in drinking more or drinking…


It’s okay if your mental health is not bouncing back. Here’s why.

Photo: valentinrussanov/Getty Images

At first, Lindsay Pearson felt hopeful. She was getting the Covid-19 vaccine, and case rates around the country were going down. The pandemic was, by many accounts, finally getting under control. Like many of us, Pearson, 23, who lives in Bakersfield, California, has had a miserable year — she has struggled with mental health problems her entire life, but being unable to work as an actress, her main creative and social outlet, made things so much worse. After Pearson got her first jab, she did feel some relief — until, suddenly, she didn’t. Her depression began to bear down on…


My Therapist Says

As the pandemic recedes, I’ve got to decide what kind of life I actually want to live

Illustration: Xinmei Liu for Elemental

When school let out for winter break of 2020, I finally started to lose my shit. It wasn’t the holidays, a possible election coup, my kids off Zoom school for a couple weeks, writing deadlines, managing my newsletter, or having to ready my online classes for a January 4 start date that had me at a breaking point. It was the upcoming vaccine rollout.

Everyone was starting to plan their vacations; schools were talking about bringing the kids back to campus; my partner was talking about going to a fall 2021 concert. Yet, I felt anxious. At the culmination of…


There will be no dramatic end to the pandemic, but we can at least look for these four signs that it’s under control

Photo: San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers/Getty Images

After a dark, lonely winter — when cases of Covid-19 ravaged the globe, surpassing 2 million deaths in mid-January, and with new variants cropping up — we seem to have begun emerging from the absolute worst. Spring’s fate is up in the air, but the ramped-up vaccine program under the new administration is sending hopeful signals. Seeing more and more friends and family posting vaccine selfies on social media amid climbing vaccination rates makes the end of the pandemic feel a little more tangible, in some ways.

But when we say “the end,” what exactly do we mean?

It’s challenging…


An invisible virus exposes critical blind spots in science and society. But will we learn?

Photo: MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram/Getty Images

Plaguing the world for more than a year, the coronavirus has forced reckonings in everything from scientific understanding to heart-wrenching inequities in health care and the economy. Given the human tendency to ignore history, here, for the record, are seven vital lessons we can take from the Covid-19 pandemic, which could start benefiting us now and for generations to come.

1. Virus science just underwent a paradigm shift

Sanitizing groceries and drowning our homes with bleach was wrongheaded, in hindsight. That early advice reflected an outdated view of how the coronavirus, influenza, and other respiratory viruses spread, some of it based on experiments done in the 1930s.

Combining…


What’s more, they’re looking to eradicate infectious diseases entirely

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“Unless we’re screened for coronaviruses and then shot out into space, leaving all other animals and nature behind, we’re going to have coronaviruses.” So says Benjamin Neuman, PhD, chief virologist at Texas A&M’s Global Health Research Complex. Neuman is no stranger to coronaviruses — he has been working with them for decades. His expertise even landed him a spot on the international committee that named SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. SARS-CoV-2 is the most recent member of the coronavirus family, which also includes the viruses that caused the SARS and MERS outbreaks.

The world’s changing climate and growing population…

Elemental

Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

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