How elimination versus suppression became Covid’s cold war

A year ago, when the World Health Organization published a report showing that China had shut down a highly contagious virus in a city of 11 million people, epidemiologist Michael Baker assumed that the international body would advise the rest of the world to follow China’s example. When to his amazement it didn’t, he decided that New Zealand (population 5 million) should go its own way, and started lobbying the government to pursue an elimination strategy…

Wellington, New Zealand

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 3 March 2021. To continue reading, click here.

 

What can we learn from Africa’s experience of Covid?

AS Africa emerges from its second wave of Covid-19, one thing is clear: having officially clocked up more than 3.8m cases and more than 100,000 deaths, it hasn’t been spared. But the death toll is still lower than experts predicted when the first cases were reported in Egypt just over a year ago. The relative youth of African populations compared with those in the global north – while a major contributing factor – may not entirely explain the discrepancy. So what is really going on in Africa, and what does that continent’s experience of Covid-19 teach us about the disease and ourselves…?

A family prepares a gravestone during the pandemic, South Africa

This article first appeared in The Observer on 28 February 2021. To continue reading, click here.

 

The first urbanites

AROUND 6200 years ago, farmers living on the eastern fringes of Europe, in what is now Ukraine, did something inexplicable. They left their neolithic villages and moved into a sparsely inhabited area of forest and steppe. There, in an area roughly the size of Belgium between the modern cities of Kiev and Odessa, they congregated at new settlements up to 20 times the size of their old ones…

Reconstruction of a Trypillian megasite

This article first appeared in New Scientist on 27 February 2021. To continue reading, click here (paywall).

The next pandemic? It may already be upon us

WOULDN’T it be wonderful if there were a silver lining to this pandemic? If history is anything to go by there may actually turn out to be a number of them, though we can’t quite see them yet, but here’s one that is just beginning to gleam. In the words of Prof Kevin Outterson: “Today, people understand the social disruption from an untreatable infection…”

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 15 February 2021. To continue reading, click here.

 

 

‘We took a huge risk’: the Indian firm making more Covid jabs than anyone

ADAR Poonawalla, 40, is the chief executive of the Serum Institute of India (SII), the Pune-based, family-owned vaccine manufacturer that is producing more Covid-19 vaccines by dose than any other in the world. For now it’s the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine rolling off its production lines, but SII has signed contracts with three other developers – Novavax, Codagenix and SpyBiotech – all of which have candidates in the works…

Adar Poonawalla

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 14 February 2021. To continue reading, click here.

 

 

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