James Hamblin

James Hamblin

M.D., staff writer @TheAtlantic, lecturer @Yale, public health and preventive medicine

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Having 70% of people vaccinated is sort of like having 70% of people stop at red lights. It’s a lot safer than zero percent, but also not time to shrug and say we’ve done all we can.

If this were an outbreak movie it would’ve ended when we discovered and mass produced several vaccines that stop the virus … instead we’re in a bad sequel that no one would ever see or make and is a hundred hours long

One weird thing is the overlap in the Venn diagram of people willing to take hydrochlorothiazide—on the basis that anything with a hypothetical chance of helping is worth trying—and people unwilling to get vaccinated despite overwhelming evidence that vaccines work.

“Breakthrough infection” is a stupid term I wish we’d stop using. It implies something failed if you test positive. No one who knows what they’re talking about ever claimed vaccines will stop the virus from landing on you. Vaccines prevent serious illness. They do that very well.

I feel like “unwanted groping” is redundant.

It’s not really an uncertain moment. It’s very clear.

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I don’t blame people who haven’t gotten vaccinated. I blame people who knowingly misled them.

I keep imagining the ads “Ask your doctor if COMIRNATY is right for you [people hugging, cheering at kids’ soccer games, watching sunsets in hot tubs] My wife and I were uncertain about COVID-19. But now we’re living free, thanks to Comir … Comirana … the Pfizer vaccine”

Very weird to hear things like "that was during COVID" or "as we emerge from the pandemic" while every day 1,000+ people die in the U.S. alone, and 100,000+ are hospitalized, the highest levels since winter. Didn't need to happen but it is.

Before mocking the horse paste, please consider how our healthcare industry excludes and alienates and bankrupts so many people. As long as we perpetuate that system, don’t act surprised that many will ingest whatever flies in its face.


Italy has banned weddings and funerals for 16 million people. Japan has closed schools for a month. France and Iraq have banned public gatherings. The U.N. has canceled all physical meetings to address climate change. Americans are uncertain what to do about Coachella.

Lots of people are feeling unproductive. But if you successfully infect zero people with the virus, seriously you’ve been extremely productive.

The vaccine shortage doesn't need to exist. Pfizer and Moderna could share their design with the dozens of other pharma companies who stand ready to produce their vaccines and end the pandemic.

People call vaccine mandates "Orwellian" even though Orwell died at 46 of tuberculosis, which is now preventable with a vaccine.

Just to say again, the answer to “who could’ve predicted this?” is everyone who studies infectious diseases.

Outdoor dining has gradually escalated into what might reasonably be called a buildings.

This is part of a dangerous trend in reporting each allergic reaction as news. A million people have been vaccinated. A few had allergic reactions. All turned out fine. More will occasionally happen. They don’t all need headlines. It inaccurately skews perception of risk.

This concludes the first week of 2021.

The thing is if shutdowns and social distancing work perfectly and are extremely effective it will seem in retrospect like they were totally unnecessary overreactions.

Remember when people said the pandemic would be a great equalizer? It turns out the 614 billionaires in the U.S. grew their net worth by almost $1 trillion dollars while congress spent nine months debating whether working people who've been ordered not to work should get $600.