Category Archives: Medicine

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.

The global race to contain Omicron

WHAT does Omicron conjure in your mind? I’ve seen the new “scariant” compared to Frankenstein’s monster and a Transformer, but I picture it as an overgrown mafioso named “Tiny”, whose trousers stop short of his feet, who uncomplainingly takes on all the dirty work and whose mother loves him. As well she might. The latest variant of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 has already been reported in 17 countries, and the first sample to have tested positive for it, in South Africa, was only taken on 9 November – though it is possible it was circulating beneath the radar before then. That’s a lot of grandchildren in a short space of time…

This article first appeared in New Statesman on 1 December 2021. To continue reading, follow this link: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/health/2021/12/the-global-race-to-contain-omicron

How does Covid end?

AS Cop26 gets under way in Glasgow this weekend, one collective action problem is taking centre stage against the backdrop of another. Covid-19 has been described as a dress rehearsal for our ability to solve the bigger problem of the climate crisis, so it seems important to point out that the pandemic isn’t over. Instead, joined-up thinking has become more important than ever for solving the problem of Covid-19…

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 29 October 2021. To continue reading, click here.