Category Archives: History of science or medicine

Outbreaks of all kinds: The Rules of Contagion review

DID you notice? There was a moment when something shifted, and all topics of conversation besides Covid-19 started to sound trivial. Things will surely shift again, as people realise that the self-confinement could last and escapism becomes our collective goal, but for now Adam Kucharski’s The Rules of Contagion is the book you might want to reach for. Not least – given that the present pandemic is very much in the ascendant – for its subtitle: Why Things Spread – and Why They Stop

Even loneliness is catching

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 25 March 2020. To continue reading, click here.

Closed borders and black weddings

PLAGUES – or, to use a more modern term, epidemics of infectious disease – pluck at our most primal fears. We have lived with them for at least 10,000 years, ever since our ancestors took up farming and built the first semi-permanent settlements. And they have always had the upper hand. They know us intimately, preying on our strengths – our sociability, our love of gossip – and turning them into weaknesses. They are always a step ahead, and once they are out, like the genie, we can’t get them back in. All we can do is limit the damage. So here we are again…

Poor advice

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 11 March 2020. To continue reading, click here.

 

Pandemics and socialised medicine

AS the world grapples with a global health emergency that is COVID-19, many are drawing parallels with a pandemic of another infectious disease – influenza – that took the world by storm just over 100 years ago. We should hope against hope that this one isn’t as bad, but the 1918 flu had momentous long-term consequences – not least for the way countries deliver healthcare. Could COVID-19 do the same…?

Aneurin Bevan, architect of the UK’s National Health Service, at its birth in 1948

This article first appeared online in TIME on 7 March 2020. To continue reading, click here.

 

Fake news and infectious disease

JUST over 100 years ago, the so-called Spanish flu killed an estimated 50 million people, in probably the worst pandemic the world has seen. It erupted in the northern hemisphere spring of 1918 and circled the globe over the next three years…

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 1 March 2020 . To continue reading, click here (paywall – I know, the irony).

Coronavirus and the geopolitics of disease

ON 28 January 2020 at the Great Hall of the People on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square – a symbol of the Chinese Communist Party’s political might – President Xi Jinping met Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), to discuss the current coronavirus outbreak. “The epidemic is a devil,” Xi said. “We cannot let the devil hide.” …

Wuhan railway station during the coronavirus outbreak, January 2020

This article first appeared on the cover of New Statesman, issue 21-27 February 2020. To continue reading, click here.