EP: 48: THE IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS: NICHOLAS CHRISTAKIS ON WHAT WENT WRONG, WHAT’S GOING RIGHT, AND OUR POSSIBLE FUTURE

What’s happening to us may seem to so many people to be alien and unnatural, but plagues are not new to our species – they’re just new to us – Nicholas Christakis

This podcast is part biography of the COVID-19 pandemic, and part admonishment on how to live through one.

If you made a wish list of people with whom you could talk about the coronavirus, ideally, you would have experts in multiple areas:

1) A physician, someone who understands epidemiology; a geneticist would be a bonus 2) A social scientist, whose research covers personal networks and how things spread, and 3) Either a historian or someone who has studied and published material on previous plagues.

For those unfamiliar, let me introduce Dr. Nicholas Christakis, my guest on this podcast and an expert who covers all these areas.

Nicholas is a physician and social scientist at Yale University who conducts research in network science, biosocial science, and behavior genetics.

Named by Time magazine to their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, his current work focuses on how human biology and health affect social interactions and social networks. He directs the Human Nature Lab and is the Co-Director of the Yale Institute for Network Science. 

He is also the author of several books, including Connected: The Amazing Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society, and his latest, Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring impact of Coronavirus On the Way We Live – which is the topic of our conversation.

Dr. Rieux resolved to compile this chronicle, so that he should not be one of those who hold their peace but should bear witness in favor of those plague-stricken people; so that some memorial of the injustice and outrage done them might endure; and to state quite simply what we learn in time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.” ― Albert Camus, The Plague

Nicholas was a font of information; it was a challenge to fit everything into an hour. He was a conversational tour de force crisscrossing history, medicine, social behavior, and disease math. 

On the show we cover…

  • How earlier pandemics were similar in how they played out and why
  • The frequency of pandemics
  • How COVID-19 compares to other pathogens
  • On disease math and mortality curves
  • Updates on lethality
  • Effective contagion rates
  • What went wrong / what’s going right
  • Trust in government and scientific institutions
  • On the current state of vaccines
  • Vaccination rates (percentage of the populace) we need to open up 
  • Distribution challenges and dependencies 
  • The swiss cheese model of personal risk mitigation 
  • Herd immunity timelines 
  • Post pandemic behavior and the future boom

There is a lot more here, so give it a listen. 

Dr. Rieux resolved to compile this chronicle, so that he should not be one of those who hold their peace but should bear witness in favor of those plague-stricken people; so that some memorial of the injustice and outrage done them might endure; and to state quite simply what we learn in time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.” ― Albert Camus, The Plague

 

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