S3-EP21: Nicholas Christakis on How the Pandemic Will Affect Your Life Until 2024

May 7, 2021


Debbie talks to bestselling author Nicholas Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, about the predictable phases of plagues and what this means for our current pandemic, about herd immunity and vaccines, about public health messaging and more. This special 55-minute episode of the podcast is fascinating and one of Debbie’s favorites in Season 3.



When will the Covid19 pandemic end? That’s the question on everyone’s mind. Today Debbie talks to one person who just might have an answer to that question. 

Nicholas Christakis is a nationally-recognized expert in three fields: medicine, sociology and public health. He’s a distinguished Sterling Professor at Yale, a researcher on the topics of social networks and human goodness, and a bestselling author, most recently, of Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live.

He’s been named to TIME magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. His fluency in explaining the science, epidemiology, psychology, sociology and history of pandemics makes this a fascinating conversation. Plus he’s got a good sense of humor:

  • You’ll hear why he chose to publish Apollo’s Arrow last fall, midway through the COVID 19 pandemic, before we knew the end of the story
  • How his childhood experiences with illness and death affected his career choices
  • What the predictable three phases of a pandemic are (HINT: we’re still in the immediate phase)
  • Why he thinks this pandemic won’t be over until 2024
  • They also talked about separating the biological vs. the psychological impacts of the pandemic
  • What herd immunity actually means and whether we’ll get there
  • And what the public health messaging around the pandemic should be

Debbie asks him point blank: when is the next pandemic? The answer is unnerving – sooner than you might think. 

But they end on a positive note: plagues historically bring loss, grief, confusion, and misinformation. But they also reveal cooperative and generous behavior, the best of humankind.


About Nicholas Christakis

Photo Credit: Evan Mann


Books by Nicholas Christakis


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Note from Debbie

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