The vaccine will shorten the "shedding" time.
A deeper appreciation for science and less unnecessary spending could be in our future.
- The "Fauci effect" has helped produce a record number of medical school applications.
- We'll soon no longer be able to avoid the reality of climate change, prompting more decisive action.
- Work from home trends are likely to continue and, in many cases, become permanent.
Photo: dottedyeti / Adobe Stock<h2>Remote working is our new reality</h2><p>The work-from-home (WFH) phenomenon has been expedited thanks to the pandemic. Now that <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-11-24/half-the-labor-force-in-major-u-s-cities-is-working-from-home" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">half of the US labor force</a> is accustomed to remote work, it's going to be difficult to convince many employees of an imminent return to the office.</p><p>WFH is not without its challenges. The social aspect of many workplaces is irreplaceable; <a href="https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/psychological-exploration-zoom-fatigue" target="_blank">Zoom just doesn't cut it</a>. Social comforts aside, WFH is a positive trend in many aspects. Commercial real estate is <a href="https://finance.yahoo.com/news/commercial-real-estate-coronavirus-173500793.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">taking a hit</a>—well, some cities are merely <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/22/miamis-commercial-real-estate-boom-picks-up-steam-amid-covid-pandemic.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">seeing a shift</a>, not an exodus—but benefits include no commute time (which has a positive impact on carbon emissions) and spending more time with your family. </p><p>Not every career will allow for WFH. Tech, finance, and media companies will allow continued WFH or at least flex time between home and office. Supply chain companies will have no such luck, at least not on the ground. For many businesses, it's up to C-level executives, with <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-ceos-really-think-about-remote-work-11600853405" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">some believing that communing together</a> in a shared space is essential for the health of the company and others happy to save on office costs. The future of remote work will be decided on a case-by-case basis, but one thing is certain: More companies will choose to try out this model. </p><h2>Remembering that community matters</h2><p>In the most fractured time in modern history, will Americans come together? While there's no clear answer, we can hope. </p><p>"<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/19/style/loretta-ross-smith-college-cancel-culture.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Calling in</a>" is one sign that we're progressing. Instead of the famous (some would say infamous) trend of calling people out, women like Smith college professor Loretta J Ross are helping create a call-in culture. Instead of alienating people, they're looking to empower them. </p><p>This follows up decades of business research by Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who coined the terms "flow" and "flow states" in 1975. In his 2003 book, <em>Good Business</em>, he points out that managers are more successful in implementing better work habits when inspiring employees, not chastising them for flubbing a duty. Extrapolating from this research, we can apply such a mindset broadly. <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/mask-shaming" target="_blank">Shame certainly has a place in society</a>, just not as dominant a one as we currently believe. </p><p>This is no easy task in an age governed by quick trigger fingers on social media. That said, perhaps necessity will once again inspire us; many people are tired and frustrated by the constant bickering and call-outs. A time when everyone is called in is unlikely given our tribal nature, but any uptick in attempts of creating genuine community is worthwhile.</p><p> --</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His new book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>
Jonathan Berman wants us to have better dialogues.
- In his book, "Anti-vaxxers," science educator Jonathan Berman aims to foster better conversations about vaccines.
- While the anti-vax movement in America has grown, more Americans now say they'll get a COVID-19 vaccine.
- In this Big Think interview, Berman explains why he's offering an ear to the anti-vax movement.
Conspirituality 31 interview: Jonathan Berman<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="731bc6f3fa27b262f0e6cae7f8fb4bdd"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/O-JyLRihIhE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>As he wrote the book before the pandemic hit, Berman is a bit dismayed (though not surprised) by the growth of the anti-vaccine movement. He noticed a convergence point this year: anti-mask and anti-lockdown proponents (as well as QAnon devotees) learned a set of tactics from the longstanding anti-vax movement, while anti-vaxxers took the energy of "personal liberty" and "bodily sovereignty" being expressed by those groups.</p><p>There have been a number of anti-vax leaders whose star has risen this year: Mikki Willis has surged since the release of his <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/the-plandemic" target="_self">Plandemic</a> film; Del Bigtree, whose show "The Highwire" is in large part <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/meet-the-new-york-couple-donating-millions-to-the-anti-vax-movement/2019/06/18/9d791bcc-8e28-11e9-b08e-cfd89bd36d4e_story.html" target="_blank">funded by hedge fund managers</a>, is growing more influential; and gynecologist Christiane Northrup, who has used her <a href="https://conspirituality.net/transmissions/dear-dr-northrup/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">social media platforms</a> to promote QAnon-related and anti-vax sentiments, is also seeing a rise in followers. As Berman writes, celebrities are not the best sources of information, and their intentions might not be as benevolent as they seem. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"There's a degree of grift in what they're doing. They're collecting donations from their audience of anti-vaccine people they've built up."</p><p>Science sometimes suffers from lack of celebrity. Paul A. Offit will never be Neil deGrasse Tyson or Bill Nye. While a select few science educators break through, vaccination advocates are unlikely to achieve that level of star power. Berman, one of the founders of the "March for Science" movement—a rare mainstream moment of science advocacy in the Trump era—knows the difficulty of spreading the gospel of sound scientific methods.</p>
The vaccine just passed its first clinical trials, but it has a long way to go.
- A new study has demonstrated the effectiveness of a potentially universal flu vaccine.
- By focusing on a nearly unchanging part of the virus, a single shot could be effective against a wide variety of strains.
- It will be at least another few years before you can get one.
How the flu shot normally works<p> The shot you received this year works by giving your body a weakened form of the flu virus and allowing your body to fight it off. A flu virion is a little ball with hemagglutinins (HA), stalks with rounded heads that latch on to cells, sticking out of them. A typical flu shot primes your body to recognize the head of this structure.</p><p>However, these heads change their form very frequently. Your body typically can't tell it's still the flu after these changes, and you need a new shot each year. This new vaccine candidate focuses on the HA's stalk, which changes far less often than the head. Since these stalks are similar for very many flu strains, it would also be quite effective against more than just the few which are currently included in a seasonal shot. </p>
That seems like an obvious target for a vaccine. Why do we only have this now?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ffiw6K3rjiU" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Our bodies tend to focus on the head when attacking a flu virus or learning about it from a vaccine. It can be challenging to make it focus on the stalk.</p><p>To get around this, the researchers in this study combined commonly seen stalks with bizarre heads taken from types of flu typically seen in birds. This odd flu strain, half-bird flu and half-human flu, would be like nothing the body has seen before. Notably, the immune system would notice the familiar stalk before it figured out the head was part of an invading virus. </p><p>As a result of this, the immune system attacked all parts of the virus and started making antibodies for attacking the stalk in the future. Blood was later taken from the test subjects who had the vaccine. The tests showed the vaccine had "induced remarkably high antistalk antibody titers." Mice injected with these antibodies and then infected with the flu showed better outcomes than those that merely got the flu, suggesting the antibodies continued effectiveness.</p><p>This is a very promising outcome. Dr. James Cherry, a vaccine expert and professor at the University of California, explained his appreciation of the study to <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/health/cold-and-flu/experimental-flu-vaccine-could-last-years-early-results-show-n1250228" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">NBC</a>: "I think this is a great first step. And I think it will be really the future of flu vaccines."</p>
How soon can I get one?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yXXC2MGivGE" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>This study, while a very exciting success, was a small first-stage clinical trial. It will likely be another two years before larger scale, multiyear tests can be carried out to further demonstrate the vaccine's effectiveness. You're not going to be able to get this anytime soon. Issues of funding may also slow its development, as various groups are working on their own universal flu <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/12/innovative-universal-flu-vaccine-shows-promises-it-first-clinical-test" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">vaccines</a>. </p><p>Additionally, the study focused on vaccines against viruses with a particular kind of HA stalk. More tests will be required to see if this works against flu strains with different stalks. However, lead author Florian Krammer argues that this is proof that "you can develop a vaccine strategy that produces stalk-reactive antibodies in humans."</p><p>While there is still a way to go, the possibility of a universal flu shot, effective against many flu strains that exist or may exist, is higher than ever.</p>
Pfizer's vaccine needs to be kept at -100°F until it's administered. Can caregivers deliver?
- Fair distribution of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines is especially challenging because they need to be stored at extremely cold temperatures.
- Back in 2018, the WHO reported that over half of all vaccines are wasted worldwide due to lack of cold storage, and they were only talking about vaccines that need to be chilled or kept at standard freezer temperatures.
- Real-time logistics data, location tracking, and information about movements are crucial to track shipment progress, product temperature and other conditions.