Reading the forecast models that track and predict the spread of the coronavirus can feel like a glimpse into the future. And epidemiologists – the scientists behind these models – have suddenly become the most important figures in this fight. Dr. Tara Smith, an epidemiologist and professor at the Kent State University College of Public Health, talks with Steven about what most people misunderstand about these models, whether there’s an end in sight for social distancing, and why the public health sector is our “invisible shield.” For more stories about challenges and triumphs of science and technology, hosted by Steven Johnson, listen and subscribe to Wondery’s American Innovations at https://wondery.com/shows/american-innovations/. Follow Dr. Tara C. Smith at https://twitter.com/aetiology.
When public health is threatened on a mass scale, we have a long history of working together to take on the challenge. As the host of Wondery’s American Innovations, Steven Johnson has told the stories of some of the most crucial breakthroughs in health, medicine, and technology. He’s also the author of one of the seminal books on epidemics, “The Ghost Map.”
On this new weekly series, Steven will speak with experts from the worlds of health and technology about how the current moment compares with past pandemics, and what the coming months might look like. What will it take to develop a COVID-19 vaccine? How will our educational system change? How can crowdsourcing help us battle the spread of the coronavirus? We’ve vanquished more dangerous threats before. Let’s roll up our sleeves and tackle this one together.