The Sunday Magazine

The Sunday Magazine for March 21, 2021

Host Piya Chattopadhyay explores the significance of new COVID-19 vaccine trials on kids, talks to Toronto Star journalist Joanna Chiu about snap trials in China for Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, chats with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Kolbert about whether we can really engineer ourselves out of the ecological mess we've made, and talks to psychiatrist Dr. Mona Gupta about offering medical assistance in dying to those wishing to end their suffering due to a mental illness.

This week on The Sunday Magazine with Piya Chattopadhyay:

A reality check on COVID-19 vaccines and kids

With news this week that Moderna is recruiting candidates as young as six months old for COVID vaccine trials, The Sunday Magazine delves into how developing a vaccine for kids might affect the future of this pandemic for everyone. Chattopadhyay speaks with Dr. Joanne Langley, a pediatrician, vaccine researcher and co-chair of the federal COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force about the process for testing vaccines on kids, how long it will be before children get vaccinated - and what that might mean for life, moving forward.

Psychiatrists divided over Canada's new medical assistance in dying law

This past week, a new law governing Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) received royal assent. Among other things, it explicitly grants Canadians with serious mental illness the right to request an assisted death to end their suffering.  That right will kick in two years from now, once an expert panel has developed protocols and safeguards to determine who should be eligible. But it's an issue that has divided mental health professionals in Canada, so finding consensus could be challenging. Chattopadhyay discusses the delicate process ahead with psychiatrist Dr. Mona Gupta, who chairs the MAiD advisory committee for the AMPQ, Quebec's association of psychiatrists.

What the snap trials of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor could mean

Do the snap trials in China for Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig offer any hope for their release?  And where will Canada-US-China relations go from here?  After accusing the two men of spying and detaining them for more than two years, Chinese officials suddenly announced their trials this past week. Spavor's started and ended Friday, with no verdict released, and Kovrig is due in court Monday. Journalist Joanna Chiu, who covers Canada-China relations for the Toronto Star, is also a friend of Kovrig's from time the two spent working in Beijing. She joins Chattopadhyay to put the trials in context. She says that more than anything, they are a political move to pressure Washington into lifting fraud charges against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is being detained in Canada.

Can we engineer our way out of the ecological mess we've made? 

For her latest book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Elizabeth Kolbert traveled the world, meeting the scientists and engineers who are thinking the most deeply -- and creatively -- about how to save the planet. She joins Chattopadhyay to talk about what she discovered, from using genetic technology to kill off malaria-carrying mosquitoes to shooting diamonds into the stratosphere in a bid to slow climate change. And together, they wrestle with a bigger question: Can we really engineer ourselves out of the ecological mess we've engineered ourselves into?  

What our indoor spaces are doing to our health and well-being

Journalist Emily Anthes set out to explore the buildings we spend our time in - from our homes to office buildings to stores and restaurants - and how those spaces affect us, because she knew how much time we collectively spend indoors. Then the pandemic hit, shuttering us all in even more.  She speaks with Chattopadhyay about her uncannily well-timed book, The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of How Buildings Shape Our Behavior, Health, and Happiness.

Nature photo of the year

Canadian photographer Thomas Vijayan just won World Nature Photographer of the Year for his striking image of an orangutan climbing a tree in Borneo. He explains what it took to get his winning shot, and what his passion for wildlife photography has taught him about our need to respect nature.