Carl Elliott is a Professor at the University of Minnesota and the recipient of a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Award. He is working on a book about whistleblowers and unethical medical research. (July 2020)

Follow Carl Elliott on Twitter: @FearLoathingBTX.


An Ethical Path to a Covid Vaccine

Jennifer Haller, the first person to be injected in a clinical trial of a potential vaccine for Covid-19, Seattle, March 2020

Adverse Events: Race, Inequality, and the Testing of New Pharmaceuticals

by Jill A. Fisher
When will we get a vaccine? That’s the question Americans have been asking since the novel coronavirus shut down much of the country in March. Dr. Anthony Fauci says it could happen this year. Others think it will take a lot longer. The HPV vaccine took fifteen years to develop. The chickenpox vaccine took twenty-eight. One potential way to speed up the development of a vaccine for Covid-19 is a “challenge study,” in which researchers give healthy subjects a prospective vaccine and then infect them with the coronavirus. Yet such a study would require deliberately giving those subjects a potentially deadly illness for which there is no good treatment.

Happiness on Demand?

Jacques Fabien Gautier-Dagoty: Anatomy of the Brain, eighteenth century

The Pleasure Shock: The Rise of Deep Brain Stimulation and Its Forgotten Inventor

by Lone Frank
Twelve years ago, a fifty-nine-year-old Dutchman checked into an Amsterdam hospital to have two small electrodes implanted in his brain. The patient, “Mr. B,” had a forty-year history of severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. Neither drugs nor therapy had helped, and he was prepared to try an experimental treatment called deep brain …

Knifed with a Smile

The Experiments

a three-part documentary film series directed by Bosse Lindquist
Few medical research scandals are as spectacular as Paolo Macchiarini’s. Five years ago he was a celebrity surgeon at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, one of Europe’s premier medical centers, which awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Macchiarini was implanting the world’s first artificial tracheas into patients—and by his account, doing it with great success. But soon there were murmurs about his methods. His patients appeared to be dying.


Pandemic Journal, March 30–April 5

The latest edition in a running series of dispatches by New York Review writers documenting the coronavirus outbreak with updates from around the world, including Danny Lyon in Bernalillo, Andrew McGee in New York, Nicole Rudick in South Orange, Ali Bhutto in Karachi, Jamie Quatro in Chattanooga, Edward Stephens in Athens, Carl Elliott in Auckland, Liza Batkin in Rhinebeck, Tim Flannery in Sydney, Ian Johnson in Beijing and London, and more.