The Atlantic Daily: Immunity Is Redefining COVID-19

Breakthrough infections appear to be shorter and less severe. Soon, we’ll need to adjust our perception of COVID-19, the illness.

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Illustration of cells
Josep Gutierrez / Getty / The Atlantic

The coronavirus is changing—you already knew that. So is the illness it causes, at least for the vaccinated: “The shots are softening COVID-19’s sharp edges,” my colleague Katherine J. Wu reports.

COVID-19 is probably going to stick around forever, like the common cold or the flu. Just about everyone may get it. But navigating SARS-CoV-2’s journey to endemicity will require some conceptual agility on our part.

Start thinking of “post-vax COVID” as a new disease.

“It’s a very different kind of infection than in people who are immunologically naive,” one expert tells Katie.

When everyone has some immunity, a diagnosis won’t be as scary.

Eventually, it’ll be like being told you have strep throat: “not good news, but not a reason for particular fear or worry or embarrassment either,” Sarah Zhang reported last month.

In the meantime, here’s how to think about this phase of the pandemic.

Our writers outline six guiding principles for the coming season.  

Check marks and a question mark in the shape of a vaccine needle
The Atlantic

The news in three sentences:

(1) The Federal Reserve signaled that it’s ready to pull back on pandemic stimulus efforts. (2) Congress faces another possible government shutdown. (3) A CDC advisory panel convened for day one of a two-day meeting to discuss Pfizer booster shots.

Today’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Read a poem. Here’s Tiana Clark’s “Broken Sestina Reaching for Black Joy.”

A break from the news:

The secret to a fight-free relationship might be the exact opposite of what you’ve been told.


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.