2 min read

A Mental Model for COVID-19

COVID-19 is airborne.
A Mental Model for COVID-19
Photo by Fusion Medical Animation / Unsplash



"When will I feel safe again?"

A few weeks ago, I found myself pondering this question again, as we all have for ~2 years now when it comes to COVID-19. One of my friends had just tested positive after an indoor gathering of 15 people, all vaccinated, boosted, and asymptomatic. They were wearing a KN95 mask, while most of the other attendees were not. They only stayed about an hour, but still contracted the Omicron variant.

What went wrong? Is COVID unavoidable and inevitable? How dangerous is it really? What about Long COVID? How are we supposed to live the rest of our lives? Why do the answers we hear to these questions keep changing every few months? How do we know what's actually true or not?

The summary above is the beginning of my quest to provide answers. It's a distillation of everything I've learned from diving deep into this pandemic over the past 2 years. The plan is make this post the first in a series, a knowledge map that links out to deep-dive follow-ups.

I should pause now to give a strong disclaimer: I'm a geek and a nerd, not an expert. I'm a software engineer by trade, not a physician, epidemiologist, or virologist. Keeping this in mind, I will scrupulously source every material assertion. I will label my own opinions as such and defer to the experts wherever possible. But I will still make mistakes despite careful review, so I invite your constructive feedback (tactfully stated!) on Twitter at @KyCodeHuynh.

Put more cheekily, you should be careful with what you read from a stranger on the Internet. But the Internet is also a wonderful way for humanity to assemble collective wisdom. This is me weaving my part of the quilt. I hope you find it useful.


  • 2022-08-13: I have since decided against continuing this series, as my focus and bandwidth is now elsewhere. I will still occasionally update the summary outline of key points as-needed. For today's update, I pulled in intranasal spray and universal COVID vaccines as key interventions and rewrote the tooling point to make it clearer.