Worth reading: Our history is a battle against the microbes. We lost terribly before science, public health, and vaccines

Welcome perspective from Max Roser of the excellent ourworldindata.org, a website I consider essential reading for everyone. The public health impact of vaccines simply cannot be overstated (as shown below). While infectious diseases like tuberculosis continue to claim lives, the death tolls of the past were almost unimaginable. Thanks to vaccination, countless lives have been…

A Theoretical Model of the Pathophysiology of COVID-19

The latest episode of the EMCrit podcast features a discussion between Scott Weingart and Farid Jalali on the pathophysiology of COVID-19. Dr. Jalali’s wide-ranging insights on this complex, dynamic disease make this an absolute must-listen. EMCrit Wee – A Theoretical Model of the Pathophysiology of COVID-19 with Farid Jalali (Not a Single Thing Verified–Pure Musings)…

Worth reading: COVID-19, a ‘supernova in human history,’ will need multiple perspectives to understand and manage

Another must-read article in STAT by Vinay Prasad and Jeffrey Flier: Covid-19, a ‘supernova in human history,’ will need multiple perspectives to understand and manage Prasad and Flier emphasize a critical point that’s too often ignored; much of the current pandemic’s harmful impact on the world (measured by suffering and death, not soulless abstractions like…

Worth reading: Suicidality is increasing in the US

More bad news. Between 2005 and 2015, the suicide fatality rate in the US increased 13% among those aged 20-64. Suicide attempts increased among all age groups. “Suicide attempts increased in females, adolescents, and older people, while suicide fatalities (mainly shootings and hangings) increased in those aged 20 to 64. The finding that both incidence…

COVID-19 is not the “great equalizer”

Maria Abi-Habib writing for NYT, “For the first time since 1998, the World Bank says, global poverty rates are forecast to rise. By the end of the year, half a billion people may be pushed into destitution, largely because of the pandemic, the United Nations estimates. … Since 2000, Bangladesh brought 33 million people —…

Worth reading: On Schmaltz

An article on lost heritage and Jewish identity by the pediatrician Daniel Summers. On Schmaltz How a Jewish cookbook helped me recover my lost heritage I was fortunate enough not to have struggled with identity in the same way pediatrician Daniel Summers did in his childhood, realizing that he was gay in an evangelical, fundamentalist…

Worth reading: Less is more in intensive care

Catherine Auriemma et al. writing in Intensive Care Medicine: “The notion that ‘less is (or may be) more’ in intensive care medicine has been contemplated by experts for decades. However, not until Kox and Pickkers’ review in 2013 had there been careful consideration of the evidence supporting this theory.1 Their thought-provoking article focused specifically on…

Worth reading: The Case for Waking

Poetry and medicine, from Janis Lou Harrington in JAMA: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2757230 The Case for Waking “I. Beside my husband’s ICU bed, I plead my case for waking, hold my palm flat as a bible, place his warm hand on mine. His face inscrutable beneath a bandage wreath, he breathes on his own, his heart pumps, his…

Worth reading: “My only crime is my face,” Perspective from Mary Oyama Mittwer and Miné Okubo

While browsing through an online museum exhibit, I came across an excerpt from this compelling article written during the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II. I managed to find a scan of the full article hosted by the UC Berkeley Library. The writer describes her family’s internment experience until their release in 1943,…

Worth reading: Opioid Prescribing in the Midst of Crisis – Myths and Realities

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1914257 Great perspective from Michael L. Barnett, M.D., in NEJM. Sadly, it’s paywalled, but I share a useful table from the article below. Barnett describes the current state of opioid prescribing as an over-correction, in which the terrible opioid overdose epidemic has led public health officials and providers to move too far in the opposite…