The Atlantic Daily: A Future Without the Flu?

The knowledge we’ve gained during the pandemic could help us in the fight against other illnesses.

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The knowledge we’ve gained during the pandemic could help us in the fight against other illnesses.

We’ve learned a lot about viruses and vaccines. The pandemic has forced us to—as a society and as individuals.

Luckily, all the knowledge that we’ve accumulated over the past 19 months won’t just serve us in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. It may very well prove useful in combatting other illnesses that plague humankind.

Consider these three examples.

1. mRNA technology could be applied to other health mysteries.

The technology already powers the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech shots. Now BioNTech is testing the revolutionary method in a personalized vaccine for colorectal-cancer patients. The drug is currently amid Phase 2 trials. Our staff writer Derek Thompson spoke with BioNTech’s co-founders about why the new technology is so special—and which other ailments it might help us treat.

2. Better ventilation could help us conquer other respiratory viruses.

Understanding how the coronavirus spreads through aerosol transmission could help us rethink our relationship with the air we breathe—and with airborne illness.

“Modern buildings have sophisticated ventilation systems to keep their temperatures comfortable and their smells pleasant—why not use these systems to keep indoor air free of viruses too?” our science reporter Sarah Zhang asks.

3. We vanquished the flu—for a season.

“We’ve demonstrated conclusively that saving nearly everyone who dies of the flu is within our power,” our assistant editor Jacob Stern writes. What will we do with that knowledge going forward?

The news in three sentences:

(1) The FDA will reportedly approve mixing and matching vaccine brands for booster shots (more about that here). (2) As winter approaches, American COVID hot spots are creeping northward. (3) Kidnappers demanded $17 million for the release of 17 people, associated with a Christian missionary group, being held in Haiti.

Today’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Catch up on Succession, one of fall’s buzziest shows. Our culture writer Shirley Li debriefs the series’ Season 3 premiere, which aired on HBO over the weekend.

A break from the news:

What exactly is MasterClass selling?


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.