The Times podcast: The pandemic will end. We promise.

A child holds a tiny cup to her mouth and tips back her head
In 1962, a child in Atlanta swallows a lump of sugar coated with a dose of polio vaccine, served in a paper cup. Less than two decades later, eradication of polio in the U.S. was complete.
(Associated Press)

The COVID-19 era is rough, to say the least. But let’s put it in perspective. Every pandemic ends eventually, and this one will too.


Today, assistant editor Jessica Roy with the L.A. Times’ utility journalism team walks us through a century of past pandemics — from the 1918 flu to SARS — and the different ways they resolved, and she describes what’s likely to happen in our future.

Then medical historian Frank Snowden, a professor emeritus at Yale, reaches further back to explore how pandemics have changed society and what we’ve learned from them.

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guests: L.A. Times utility journalism assistant editor Jessica Roy and Yale professor emeritus of history Frank Snowden

More reading:

Will this pandemic ever end? Here’s what happened with the last ones

CDC shifts pandemic goals away from reaching herd immunity


From the archives: April 2020: From the Black Death to AIDS, pandemics have shaped human history. Coronavirus will too

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, senior producers Denise Guerra, Shannon Lin and Kasia Broussalian and producers Melissa Kaplan, Ashlea Brown and Angel Carreras. Our engineer is Mario Diaz. Our editors are Lauren Raab and Kinsee Morlan. Our executive producers are Jazmín Aguilera and Shani O. Hilton. Our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.