Rob Stein

Rob Stein is a correspondent and senior editor on NPR's science desk.

An award-winning science journalist with more than 30 years of experience, Stein mostly covers health and medicine. He tends to focus on stories that illustrate the intersection of science, health, politics, social trends, ethics, and federal science policy. He tracks genetics, stem cells, cancer research, women's health issues, and other science, medical, and health policy news.

Before NPR, Stein worked at The Washington Post for 16 years, first as the newspaper's science editor and then as a national health reporter. Earlier in his career, Stein spent about four years as an editor at NPR's science desk. Before that, he was a science reporter for United Press International (UPI) in Boston and the science editor of the international wire service in Washington.

Stein's work has been honored by many organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the Association of Health Care Journalists. He was twice part of NPR teams that won Peabody Awards.

Stein frequently represents NPR, speaking at universities, international meetings and other venues, including the University of Cambridge in Britain, the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea, and the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC.

Stein is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He completed a journalism fellowship at the Harvard School of Public Health, a program in science and religion at the University of Cambridge, and a summer science writer's workshop at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.

If you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as your first COVID-19 shot, a booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine apparently could produce a stronger immune response than a second dose of J&J's vaccine. That's the finding of a highly anticipated study released Wednesday.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

For the first time, doctors are reporting that they have restored vision to people blinded by a rare genetic disorder using the revolutionary gene-editing technique known as CRISPR.

Carlene Knight's vision was so bad that she couldn't even maneuver around the call center where she works using her cane.

"I was bumping into the cubicles and really scaring people that were sitting at them," says Knight, who was born with a rare genetic eye disease.

But that's changed as a result of volunteering for a landmark medical experiment. Her vision has improved enough for her to make out doorways, navigate hallways, spot objects and even see colors.

"It's nice. I don't scare people and I don't have as many bruises on my body," Knight says, laughing.

Americans may be able to breathe a tentative sigh of relief soon, according to researchers studying the trajectory of the pandemic.

The delta surge appears to be peaking nationally, and cases and deaths will likely decline steadily now through the spring without a significant winter surge, according to a new analysis shared with NPR by a consortium of researchers advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A head-to-head comparison of all three COVID-19 vaccines found Moderna is holding up better than Pfizer and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine provides the weakest protection.

But the researchers stressed that all three vaccines are still providing strong protection against people getting so sick that they end up in the hospital.

Like millions of others, Kathleen Hipps thought she was safe from COVID-19 after she got two shots of the Moderna vaccine last spring. So she figured she just had a summer cold when she got the sniffles in July. But then she opened some Vick's VapoRub.

"Anyone who's ever smelled Vick's VapoRub knows how pungent of a smell it is. And I couldn't smell it. And that's how I knew I had COVID," says Hipps, 40, a Los Angeles lawyer who has two young sons.

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LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Johnson & Johnson says it has evidence that people who got the company's COVID-19 vaccine could benefit from a booster. NPR health correspondent Rob Stein joins us now with the details. Hi, Rob.

ROB STEIN, BYLINE: Good morning.

For the first time, scientists have shown that a new kind of genetic engineering can crash populations of malaria-spreading mosquitoes.

In the landmark study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, researchers placed the genetically modified mosquitoes in a special laboratory that simulated the conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, where they spread the deadly disease.

Updated July 29, 2021 at 12:05 PM ET

This story has been updated throughout to reflect new research.

New data on the delta variant is coming in, and it's not looking good. The currently authorized vaccines are still very protective, especially against hospitalization and death. But when it comes to getting an asymptomatic or mild case of COVID-19, they may not be quite as protective as they were against earlier strains.

Updated July 9, 2021 at 2:05 PM ET

As the weather warmed up this year, coronavirus case numbers plummeted, and life in the U.S. started to feel almost normal. But in recent weeks, that progress has stalled.

The vaccination campaign has slowed, and the delta variant is spreading rapidly. And new infections, which had started to plateau about a month ago, are going up slightly nationally.

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