S4-EP13: Nicholas Christakis With a COVID Update and the Historical Connection Between Pandemics, War, and Climate Change

Mar 25, 2022


Nicholas Christakis comes back on the show to talk about Long COVID, herd immunity, what stage of the pandemic we’re in, vaccines, mask-wearing, and the historical context of pandemics including a connection to war and climate change.



Debbie Weil brings Nicholas Christakis back on the show  for an update on all things COVID. Their conversation one year ago was one of the most popular episodes of Season 3. Nicholas is a Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale. He’s a physician, a sociologist, and a public health expert and he’s the bestselling author of several books, including, most recently, Apollo’s Arrow, about the coronavirus pandemic. 

The book is out in paperback, with a new Preface and a new Afterword. Debbie wanted to ask Nicholas where are we now with the COVID-19 pandemic, where are we going, and what does this all mean in an historical context.

She could listen to Nicholas all day as he weaves together the history, the science, the epidemiology, the psychology and the sociology of pandemics, or plagues as he calls them. Not surprisingly, he’s an in-demand expert for commentary about the pandemic. 

Vaccines were widely available when the two spoke a year ago. Debbie, like many others, thought that meant the beginning of the end of the pandemic. Not quite, Nicholas said at the time. He was spot on in his predictions, saying that not until 2024 would the pandemic be behind us. A year later, he says we are finally through phase one of the pandemic. He expects we’ll reach herd immunity several months from now.

He and Debbie discuss Long COVID, whether we should still be wearing masks, the continuing importance of getting thrice vaccinated, what metric to pay the most attention to (number of deaths per day),  addressing disinformation around this pandemic, and more. He notes that historically there has been a confluence of disasters associated with plagues, including war, famine, and climate change.

When the war against Ukraine erupted, he was astounded but also not surprised. World War I accompanied the 1918 pandemic. This time, Ukraine and climate change are the accompanying global disasters.

Nicholas ends by reminding us that plagues are not rare and may continue to become more present in our lifetime – but that we have the tools and technology to get through them.

Tune in for a fascinating conversation about where we are now with the COVID pandemic.



About Nicholas Christakis


Mentioned in this episode or useful:


Note from Debbie

If you’ve been enjoying the podcast, please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcasts. It takes less than two minutes and it really makes a difference. It makes me feel loved and it also attracts new listeners.

Subscribe to my newsletter and get my free writing guide: https://bitly.com/debbie-free-guide.

Connect with me:


We are looking for a sponsor or a podcast network

If you are interested in reaching a smart and thoughtful audience of midlife, and older, listeners, contact Debbie Weil.

Support this podcast:


Connect with us:

Thanks to our media partners

Encore.org, our newest media partner, is an ideas and innovation hub tapping the talent of those 50+ as a force for good. Founder and CEO Marc Freedman is an award-winning social entrepreneur and author, most recently, of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations. Looking for a great gap-year transition program? Check out Encore Fellowships, which match skilled, seasoned professionals with social-sector organizations in high-impact, paid assignments.


Modern Elder Academy is a program dedicated to navigating mid-life transitions. MEA, based in Baja California, Mexico, provides the place and the tools to start reframing your lifetime of experience. Grow whole, not old. Founder Chip Conley is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning hospitality entrepreneur and a rock star of the mid-life transition movement. His newest book is Wisdom @ Work: the Making of a Modern Elder.


Next For Me is an important new resource for the 50+ crowd focused on rewriting life. Taking a gap year or timeout may be the best way to figure out "what's next" when you're in this stage of life. Founder Jeff Tidwell explains, Next For Me "connects and inspires our generation to evolve our post-50 lives through new work, a new purpose, or a new social contribution."