From COVID to mpox to polio: NPR's 9 most-read 'viral' stories in 2022
It was a big year for viruses, which simply refused to be ignored. And unlike the previous two years, COVID had to share the spotlight.
Even though the public's interest in the pandemic began to wane in its third year, COVID still grabbed the top spots for our most-read stories. But this year it had to share the spotlight with other viruses — notably mpox, HIV and polio.
With COVID, we spent the early part of the year scrutinizing the omicron variant. How bad is it? How immune are we? Why does it have a sibling? And we wondered about vaccines, not just here, but around the world. And why is there this strange subset of people who never seem to get COVID?
But just as we were all wrapping our minds around COVID variants, and feeling pretty good about the ideas that viruses might weaken over time and could even be behind us, we were surprised by a more contagious and severe HIV variant as well as global outbreaks of vaccine-derived polio, including cases in New York.
And scientists reminded us not to underestimate viruses.
Finally, a serious global outbreak of mpox came on so suddenly that President Biden declared a public health emergency in the U.S.
Keeping up with viruses in 2022 was like a game of Whac-A-Mole — as soon as you felt you had one figured out another would pop up, only to be followed by a variant of the first one.
Ranked here in order of popularity are the infectious-disease stories you most wanted to read from us in 2022. We hope we answered your most pressing questions!
Peter Hotez and Maria Elena Bottazzi used an oldie-but-goodie technology to devise a vaccine that's easy to make — and relatively cheap. Then they made their recipe available to all countries. Published January 5, 2022.
It's a sibling of the first omicron variant that swept the world. Is it more contagious? Does it cause severe disease? Will it keep current omicron surges going? Researchers are looking for answers. Published January 27, 2022.
The cases point to possible sexual transmission of this cousin of smallpox — a previously unknown method of spread for monkeypox. Published May 18, 2022.
Researchers are looking at data from U.S. cases to determine if the variant causes milder disease. Even if the answer is yes, they say, rates of hospitalization could be high during the surge. Published January 6, 2022.
A new study suggests that, yes, there are superdodgers. But explaining why they've been able to avoid the virus is a bit complicated. Published September 7, 2022.
Scientists are beginning to come up with answers to the question of how long antibodies from an infection can protect you — and what they'll protect you from. Published February 7, 2022.
Is it a sexually transmitted disease? Can you get it on a crowded bus? Trying on clothes? We talk to specialists about how this virus is transmitted and what kinds of precautions are warranted. Published August 5, 2022.
Findings from a new study help answer questions about why some people get more severe and transmissible HIV than others — and serve as a reminder that viruses don't always weaken over time. Published February 4, 2022.
Countries in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia are counting more cases of vaccine-derived polio. Now there's a likely U.S. case. Researchers are looking for ways to stop it. Published April 26, 2022.
Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.