Families will gather. Restaurants will reopen. People will travel. The pandemic may feel like it’s behind us — even if it’s not.

A person on a two-seater carnival ride that flings people upside down, which it is currently doing in front of a cloudless blue sky.
A person on a two-seater carnival ride that flings people upside down, which it is currently doing in front of a cloudless blue sky.
Photo: Gabby Jones/Redux

Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here.

The summer of 2021 is shaping up to be historic.

After months of soaring deaths and infections, COVID-19 cases across the United States are declining even more sharply than experts anticipated. This is expected to continue, and rates of serious illness and death will plummet even faster than cases, as high-risk populations are vaccinated. Even academics who have spent the pandemic delivering ominous warnings have shifted their tone to cautiously optimistic now that vaccination rates are exploding.

Until very recently, Anthony…

The virus is mutating as expected. We can still stop it.

Image: The Atlantic

By James Hamblin

In the final, darkest days of the deadliest year in U.S. history, the world received ominous news of a mutation in the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Scientists in the U.K. had identified a form of the virus that was spreading rapidly throughout the nation. Then, on January 4, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a lockdown that began almost immediately and will last until at least the middle of February. …

An FDA-advisory-committee vote has marked the beginning of the end of the pandemic. But there’s still a long road ahead.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In a historic moment during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, an FDA advisory committee voted today in favor of authorizing the first vaccine against COVID-19. The formal implementation of this recommendation, which would allow the vaccine to be given to anyone 16 or older, is expected to follow imminently.

This marks the beginning of a new and hopeful phase in a crisis that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans and caused widespread economic collapse. Having endured more deaths than any other country, the U.S. has manufactured hundreds of thousands of doses in anticipation of this moment. …

There is no perfectly safe way to gather. That said, here’s how to make the holiday less dangerous.

Vintage black-and-white photo of Thanksgiving dinner, the kids’ table with the adults’ table in the background.
Vintage black-and-white photo of Thanksgiving dinner, the kids’ table with the adults’ table in the background.
Photo illustration: The Atlantic; source: Bettmann/Getty Images

Most years, in the anxious days before Thanksgiving, I write a health-related FAQ. It’s meant to be fun, reminding us of the timeless risks that spike every year around this day, such as Salmonella poisoning and fires from exploding turkeys.

This year is different. On Thursday, the CDC advised Americans not to congregate with people outside their immediate household. If anything, the advisory understated the risk at hand, saying that “travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.” Travel does increase your risk. It should have read: Do not travel. Do not gather. Effectively, Thanksgiving is canceled. Just…

This is a moment for creativity.

Black-and-white vintage photo of a Thanksgiving dinner; overlaid on it is a red triangle with an exclamation mark.
Black-and-white vintage photo of a Thanksgiving dinner; overlaid on it is a red triangle with an exclamation mark.
Photo illustration: The Atlantic; source: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

The United States is now in what disaster-preparedness experts once modeled as a worst-case scenario. We are flooded with a highly transmissible virus that causes unpredictable symptoms: sometimes mild, sometimes fatal. The curve is not flat, or even a curve. It’s almost a line that points straight upward. More than 1,000 Americans are dying every day, on average. Soon that number will likely hit 2,000.

In this precarious moment, many Americans are planning to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday by traveling and having dinner with 10 or more people. Pandemic models generally account for such behavior in the early stages of…

The president convinced many voters that his response to the pandemic was not a disaster. The psychology of medical fraud is simple, timeless, and tragic.

Black-and-white photo of Donald Trump looking off to the right and winking.
Black-and-white photo of Donald Trump looking off to the right and winking.
Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

At some basic level, Americans do seem to agree that the coronavirus is a major threat. Despite attempts to politicize and divide us on the pandemic, we are at least united in anxiety. In September, a survey of almost 4,000 Americans found that only 12 percent disagreed with requiring masks in public. Fully 70 percent wanted the government to do more to protect people, and only 8 percent wanted it to do less.

Since then, though, the government under President Donald Trump has done less. The U.S. has suffered the most documented coronavirus deaths in the world, by far. The…

Paging Dr. Hamblin

I’m young and healthy, so what’s the point?

Silhouette of a person’s chest, torso, and abdomen. Blue dots cover its chest, and a skinny triangle is coming out of one
Silhouette of a person’s chest, torso, and abdomen. Blue dots cover its chest, and a skinny triangle is coming out of one
Illustration: Julian Montague

Dear Dr. Hamblin,

I’m perfectly healthy. I’m 42 and I exercise routinely, eat a whole-food, plant-based diet, and have excellent biomarkers. If I get the flu, chances are it will be mild and run its course. So why risk any potential negative side effects of a vaccine? To protect me against something that I might still get even with the shot? Even though I’m sure the risk is low, why should I potentially jeopardize my health? I guess I see only downsides and no upside.

Todd Kelly
Philadelphia, Pa.

Your concerns are widely shared, and your question is important. The…

At an inaugural desert festival of yogis and spirit guides like Russell Brand, an exclusive industry grapples with consumerism, addiction, and the actual meaning of wellness

Photo: Paul Pack / Wanderlust / ImageFlow / New Africa / Shutterstock / Katie Martin / The Atlantic

I first felt reality shift when, at 7 a.m. on a Saturday, there was a line for a class called Body Blast Bootcamp, and I worried that there wouldn’t be enough room for everyone.

The draw to this explicitly not-fun undertaking, others in line told me, was that we would be glad to have done it when it was over. We all made it in, and the workout studio was a carpeted conference room where an Instagram-famous instructor with a microphone headset was waiting to give us high fives. “The hardest step is showing up!”

Once we started working out…

A report that the Trump administration plans to define gender based on the appearance of infants runs counter to developmental biology and individual privacy

Photo: Hero Images/Getty Images

Life might be more orderly and easy to understand if biology worked just like this:

People come in one of two sexes, male or female. This is determined by chromosomes, and XX means female, and XY means male. Males have penises and testicles — which are all similar in appearance and curvature and size — that secrete testosterone in similar proportions. This testosterone is metabolized, functions similarly in all men, and causes them to have similar amounts of musculature and deep voices and certain amounts of facial and back hair, and to act in particular ways because of this hormone…

The famous psychologist and his daughter swear by a regimen of eating only beef. Restriction can provide a sense of order in a world of chaos — but at what point does restriction become a disorder?

Photo: Curly Courland Photografy/Getty Images

“I know how ridiculous it sounds,” Mikhaila Peterson told me recently by phone, after a whirlwind of attention gathered around the 26-year-old, who is now offering dietary advice to people suffering with conditions like hers. Or not so much dietary advice as guiding people in eating only beef.

At first glance, Peterson, who is based in Toronto, could seem to be one of the many emerging semi-celebrities with a miraculous story of self-healing — who show off postpartum weight loss in bikini Instagrams and sell one thing or another, a supplement or tonic or book or compression garment. (Not incidentally…

James Hamblin

'I can't believe I ate the whole thing.'

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