Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: COVID

  • From Sophocles to the frontline

    Alexandra Pliakopanou Ioannina, Greece   Ulysses and Neoptolemus Taking Hercules’ Arrows from Philoctetes. François-Xavier Fabre, 1800, Musée Fabre. Via Wikimedia. In the deserted misty land of Lemnos, a wailing voice echoes, emanating from a wounded warrior abandoned by his comrades nine years ago. Philoctetes, the titular character of Sophocles’ 409 BC play and once a…

  • A series of messages

    Fung Kam Yan Hong Kong   Sign outside the author’s grandmother’s hospital ward. It was a Sunday. I sat outside the ward in my white coat, my eye protection fogging up, trying to catch my breath through the KF94 mask. My grandmother was inside, also struggling to breathe. The nurse said that only two visitors…

  • Book review: How the NHS Coped with COVID-19

    Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Cover of How the NHS Coped with COVID-19 by Ellen Welch. This work is a timely and important contribution to the literature on the COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc worldwide. Following the cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown cause in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019, things…

  • Rapid testing for the masses

    Anthony PapagiannisThessaloniki, Greece Ten young girls are queueing outside the makeshift surgery. They are between eleven and fifteen, they wear face masks, they giggle and tease each other and try to encourage the timid ones before the coming ordeal. What is this going to be? Their first visit to a gynecologist? Nothing so memorable. They…

  • Gain of function

    Jayant Radhakrishnan Darien, Illinois, United States   “It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge.” – Enrico Fermi (1901–1954)   SARS-CoV-2 virus anatomy with proteins labeled. Created by Maya Peters Kostman for the Innovative Genomics Institute. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. “Gain of Function” (GoF) burst into…

  • Dr. Oriol Mitjà: seeking to understand old and new infectious diseases

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “Research needs to give answers to real problems.” – Dr. Oriol Mitjà   Oriol Mitjà. Photo by Oriol.mitja, 2016, on Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0. Dr. Oriol Mitjà (b. 1980) earned his M.D. degree from the University of Barcelona. He then completed an internal medicine residency, followed by a fellowship in…

  • The flower lady

    Jonathan B. Ferrini La Jolla, California, United States   Photos by author. The Flores Family Flower Shop was founded by my grandfather as a roadside stand. It has now been a favorite flower shop in San Diego for the past fifty years. Six days a week at 4:30 in the morning, I drive the truck…

  • Revising my bargain with the deity

    Barry Perlman New York, New York, United States   Photo by S. Tsuchiya on Unsplash. My parents lived into their nineties. Before they died, they endured years of dementia. Aware of my potential genetic inheritance, I have long harbored a deep dread of what my future might hold. If my curved pinky fingers were inherited…

  • Battle of six feet

    Mark Mosley Wichita, Kansas, United States   Sleep (w/CPAP). Artwork by Howard J on Flickr, October 19, 2020. CC BY-NC 2.0. They die alone now; jet pilots soaring solo upward muffled voices sucked into machines speaking a language we recognize but too distant to quite understand until their plastic faces harden and eyes glaze over…

  • “Killed By Vaccination”: the enduring currency of a nineteenth century illogic

    Saty Satya-Murti Santa Maria, California, United States   Fig. 1. William Young’s 1886 pamphlet alleging that smallpox vaccinations slaughter and kill. Source: Wellcome Collection. In Public Domain. Vaccine misinformation and anti-vaccination conspiracy theories are not new but have acquired a combative energy during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nearly all the arguments now raised against vaccination were…