Category Archives: History of science or medicine

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.

Beyond borders: the best books about pandemics

WITH cases of coronavirus reported on four continents, health experts are concerned it could become a pandemic. The world is currently in the grip of two others – Aids and tuberculosis – while measles is on the rise again and polio stubbornly resists eradication. When smallpox was wiped out, some in the medical community were so high on their success they thought other infectious diseases would soon be licked. Fifty years later, this triumph remains unique…

This article was first published in The Guardian on 6 February 2020. To continue reading, click here.