© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Was the COVID pandemic a turning point?

Ways To Subscribe
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Four years ago we experienced the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A new virus was spreading around the world and we were all trying to figure out how to stay safe and how to cope.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classified the outbreak as a pandemic in March 2020.

The pandemic caused immense strain on healthcare systems globally. Lockdowns, travel restrictions, and social distancing measures became commonplace to curb the spread.

Millions of people fell sick, and the virus tragically claimed many lives. It is considered the fifth deadliest pandemic in history.

The development of vaccines proved to be a major turning point. Widespread vaccination campaigns significantly reduced the severity of illness, hospitalization rates, and deaths.

Treatments for COVID-19 also improved, including antiviral drugs and supportive care for severe cases.

COVID-19 continues to circulate, though with less severity due to vaccination and mutations leading to milder variants.

The COVID-19 pandemic wasn't just a health crisis; it also had far-reaching economic, social and political consequences.

The pandemic exposed and worsened existing social inequalities. Essential workers, often from lower-income brackets, faced higher health risks. School closures disproportionately affected families without resources for remote learning.

Lockdowns, social isolation, and job losses contributed to a rise in anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

Social distancing measures changed the way we interact, with increased use of technology for communication and a rise in remote work.

Government handling of lockdowns, mask mandates, and economic stimulus packages became a political flashpoint, with debates on government intervention and individual liberties.

In some cases, government responses to the pandemic eroded public trust in institutions, with misinformation and conspiracy theories flourishing.

The pandemic highlighted the importance of social safety nets and public health infrastructure.

There's a renewed focus on the need for global cooperation and investment in pandemic preparedness.

The social and political impacts of COVID-19 are complex and still unfolding. The pandemic will likely continue to shape societies and political landscapes for years to come.

The Turning Point: Reflections on a Pandemic is a new book published by Oxford University Press by Drs. Michael Stein and Sandro Galea that is a series of reflections about the political, social, and economic forces that shaped how we, as a country, reacted and responded to the pandemic.

Four years after COVID started it seems an opportune moment to look back and ask: What happened? Why? Will this happen again? This book is a step towards starting that conversation.


Dr. Michael Stein is a physician, health policy researcher, and a leader in the field of public health. He currently serves as the Chair and Professor of Health Law, Policy & Management at the Boston University School of Public Health. Prior to his appointment at Boston University, he served as Professor of Medicine and Director of the Behavioral Medicine and Addiction Research at Brown University. For the past three decades, Dr. Stein has produced work that has spanned the topics of sleep and pain, addiction and HIV/AIDS, mental health and behavioral risk-taking, health care access and quality.

He has published more than 400 scientific journal articles. In the public space, he has published widely in the lay press, including in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and The New York Times. His work has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air, in O Magazine and in many other publications. He is the author of eleven books and the Executive Editor of Public Health Post.

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org.

*This interview will be recorded on Thursday, March 28, 2024.

Stay Connected
David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi