Category Archives: Medicine

Bill Gates on the pandemic

IN 2015, the American technologist and philanthropist Bill Gates warned that humanity wasn’t ready for a pandemic. Seven years on, as the world emerges (hopefully) from a pandemic for which it wasn’t ready, he thinks we have it within our power to make sure this one was the last. There will be more disease outbreaks, but we now possess the tools and the knowledge to prevent them from becoming global catastrophes…

This article first appeared in the New Statesman on 4 May 2022. To continue reading, click here:

Bill Gates on the pandemic: a misplaced faith in innovation

From zero to hero

IT was the alt-history, the policy that didn’t get enacted. No-Covid, zero-Covid or elimination aimed to stamp out community transmission of Covid-19 in a given area, rather than just reduce it to “manageable” levels. Most of the world eschewed it, and it got bad press from the start. Only autocratic regimes could pull it off, one mantra went. Countries like China and ah, New Zealand and, oops, that notorious police state Davis in California…

University of California Davis

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 28 March 2022. To continue reading, click here.

On pandemics and reciprocity

LAST November, having alerted the world to the new and highly transmissible Omicron variant of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, South Africa-based scientist Tulio de Oliveira saw that country hit with travel bans. Already smarting at what he saw as wealthier nations’ hoarding of vaccines, antiviral drugs and test reagents, his frustration spilled over. “If the world keeps punishing Africa for the discovery of Omicron and ‘global health scientists’ keep taking the data, who will share early data again?” he tweeted…

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 18 March 2022. To continue reading, click here.

Pandemics’ long tails

WHEN Ashley Shew turned up for an appointment at a medical centre in spring 2020, a member of staff told her she could remove her mask because only people with pre-existing conditions were vulnerable to COVID-19. Shew was surprised. “A hard-of-hearing amputee battered by chemotherapy and more”, as she describes herself, she is a regular at the centre — the appointment that day concerned her prosthetic leg. Who, she wondered, did the staff member think counted as a person with pre-existing conditions…?

This article first appeared in Nature on 16 February 2022. To continue reading, click here.

 

Covid vaccines deserve our trust – but big pharma doesn’t

LAST week, a commission set up by Stanford University and the Lancet found that the devastating opioid crisis in North America could happen again, and not just there. The unethical practices that Patrick Radden Keefe documented in his prize-winning 2021 book, Empire of Pain, were not restricted to one company, Purdue Pharma, and the part of the Sackler family that owned it. They were and remain normal behaviour in the pharmaceutical industry and in the agencies that are supposed to regulate it…

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 9 February 2022. To continue reading, click here.