Tales From An Outbreak

For most of the past 5 years, I worked as a science and health reporter and have been deeply fascinated by outbreaks and pandemics. I’ve had the opportunity to report many stories including several for a year-long collaboration called “Germ City” with the Museum of the City of New York, the New York Academy of Medicine and Wellcome Trust that looked at how contagious diseases shape cities.

Below are some of those stories that might (hopefully) help you gain insight into what’s happening right now during this remarkable, world-changing COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Where’s the Vaccine – Sarah Gonzalez interviewed Rick Bright, the director of the country’s “Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority” i.e. BARDA, the people stockpiling vaccines and antidotes in case of a national emergency. Really fascinating explanation as to why a COVID-19 vaccine will still tale awhile. Sarah did all the work, I was just along for the ride.
  • Plague of Suspicion – I co-hosted an hour on pandemics with Bob Garfield for WNYC’s “On The Media.” We looked at the great flu pandemic of 1918-1919, how the government talks about outbreaks, SARS and air travel and more. We spoke with some really smart, well-informed people.
  • How To Stop An Outbreak – This one looks at the Legionnaires outbreak in the Bronx in 2015. The methods of disease detection used then are very similar to what local health authorities and the CDC are doing right now, but instead of matching the disease to bacteria, the disease genome is being matched between people.
  • Flu-Dunnit? – I know, I know, it’s not as funny now to solve the age old question “who came to work sick?” but we worked with some great researchers, swabbing our noses for 10 weeks and tracking how viruses travelled through our team at work and spread to our loved ones at home. I promise you’ll learn stuff you didn’t know about how diseases spread.
  • Germ City – More stories from a collaboration WNYC did with the Museum of the City of New York, the New York Academy of Medicine and Wellcome Trust.

Please email me at aaronczyk at npr dot org with any other story ideas.