The Atlantic Daily: The Fear That Shapes Joe Biden’s Agenda

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Back in January, President Biden inherited a country being ravaged by the coronavirus, and quickly began pushing large-scale initiatives to fight the pandemic and repair the economy.  

Last night, in his address to Congress, Biden made clear that he has no intention of slowing down. To date, the president has proposed more than $5 trillion in new spending over the next 10 years, my colleague Ronald Brownstein points out.

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One question, answered: I heard we may need a booster shot to stay protected against the coronavirus. Do we know when that might be?

Our staff writer James Hamblin responds:

You heard right: We may. Whether—and when—we do depends on two variables.

One: how well our immunity holds up. Expert opinions differ on the question. Some are confident that memory T cells and B cells will keep this virus on our immune system’s kill list for many years. Others expect that we will need a booster shot after our antibodies fade.

Two: how the virus evolves. If mutations change it enough, our immune memories may not reliably recognize some variants. This would mean that we’d need a booster sooner, either to replenish our army of antibodies or to direct them toward a new variant. Significant genetic changes are much more likely if the virus continues to spread widely around the world, infecting millions of people every day. This is why many experts are hoping we can develop a “universal vaccine” that protects us from whatever mutations may arise. I wrote more about this here.

Tonight’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Waste time, meaningfully. Our happiness columnist, Arthur C. Brooks, suggests scheduling your leisure activities in advance to avoid whiling away free time on things you don’t enjoy.

Read his latest “How to Build a Life” column.

Today’s break from the news:

How did Yahoo become a villain of internet culture?


Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.