I took the train to work today. I write a lot of my articles to the sound of moaning tracks, and this one was no different. On Friday, I am going out to a show in a live theatre, probably after getting food at a restaurant in the city. It’s summer in Sydney, so I’ve been going to the beach a lot, and this weekend will probably be no different, although I’ll try to get to the local bouldering gym for a few hours as well.
There are so many myths about COVID-19 that sometimes it is really quite challenging to keep up. Despite spending the end of 2020 writing about numerous myths, and why the were wrong, they still pop up with alarming regularity.
Case in point: the new idea that if you don’t have current symptoms of COVID-19, there is no reason to worry that you could spread the disease. While this is a very popular thought, it is, unfortunately, just not true.
In the last 12 months, fact checking has gone from a fun pastime where you get to make fun of Big Walnut to something of a life-and-death scenario where the myths that are promulgating online can have serious consequences for people’s longevity. Instead of impacting which berry you favor at the supermarket checkout, the scientific myths of 2020 might define how your government chooses to respond to a global pandemic.
It’s a bit less fun than it was last year to check facts, is what I’m saying.
CW: Suicide, Mental Health, Lockdowns. If this blog raises issues for you, here is a list of international helplines where you can get some help.
This year has been a hard one, there is no doubt. Usually, we get to December and I’m writing articles about Christmas cake and losing weight, or whether you’ll stick to your new year’s resolution, or perhaps summing up the fun and games of bad science reporting in the last 12 months.
Instead, we’re here talking about suicide. Not an easy topic.
It has been a long year. We have weathered arguably the biggest global disruption since the Second World War, and many parts of the world are still facing the prospect of a very long winter as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from Covid-19 continue to increase steadily.
And yet, in this dire nightmare, there is a ray of hope. Three vaccines have now completed phase 3 clinical trials, and while there is some nuance in their approval, we are now looking at a vaccine rollout that is only weeks away rather than the months or years we initially posited.
Note: because not everyone reads to the end, I’d like to say right up here that the best advice I can give you is to go and talk to your doctor. Taking a supplement or not is a medical decision, and those are best made in consultation with experts who know more about your health than articles you find on the internet.
There’s something quite magical about the supplement aisle. You walk down a row of brightly-coloured bottles, each one trying to outdo the others on its wonderful benefit to your body. …
In the year of COVID-19, many things that are really scientific questions have become absurdly politicized. There’s hydroxychloroquine, which as an anti-malarial drug really shouldn’t be the topic of much political conversation, but somehow is. There’s herd immunity, which has gone from a fairly niche epidemiological concept mostly discussed by experts to one of the most political topics in the world.
And, of course, there’s masks, which have somehow become arguably the key political battle in the COVID-19 war.
The holy grail of Covid-19 has been, for most of the year, a vaccine. We’ve all been using “when we’ve got a vaccine” as a synonym for “back to normal,” because the only return to normalcy that we can really envision is based on everyone being immunized against infection. In all the conversations about how the pandemic might end, the one thing that is always featured is a vaccine that prevents the disease in the people who get it.
Which is why the recent Pfizer news feels momentous. The preliminary results from one of the first Phase 3 trials for a vaccine against Covid-19 have been reported, with Pfizer and BioNTech announcing that their vaccine is 90% effective at preventing Covid-19 at 28 days after the vaccine was given. All of a sudden, the hazy dreams of tomorrow where we are all safe from Covid-19 have become much more realistic in the near future. …
As cases of COVID-19 skyrocket across Europe and the United States, a new myth has emerged to add to our ever-increasing list of coronavirus-related nonsense. The idea is that the current massive epidemic in Europe and elsewhere is not an issue, because this is a ‘casedemic’ — an increase in cases without any concomitant increase in sickness or deaths.
Basically, it’s another way of saying that the pandemic is over, from people who’ve been saying that it was over every month since March.
In the Age Of COVID-19, scientific research has gone from the esoteric mutterings of geeks like me to the everyday parlance of pretty much everyone the world over. Instead of discussing the weather, or politics, suddenly you’ll find yourself dipping into seroprevalence results, or the potential benefits of anti-malarials for the treatment of viral disease.
Truly, 2020 is a weird time for us all.