BY the end of March, one week into the UK’s first lockdown, recorded crime in Lancashire had dropped by a startling 40% compared with the four-year average. “At first there was some mild panic,” says DCI Eric Halford, of Lancashire Constabulary. “Most senior officers expected a surge in demand…”
This article first appeared in The Guardian on 27 December 2020. To continue reading, click here.
TOWARDS the end of his life, J.B.S. Haldane was inseparable from a pebble that had been found in the Valley of Elah in Israel, where David felled Goliath with a similar projectile. A king-size man who towered over British biology for several decades in the middle of the 20th century, Jack Haldane—the “half-Dane”—was a more obvious Goliath, but he always took the side of the underdog…
This story first appeared in The Economist on 18 July 2020. To continue reading, click here.
WHEN the Oxford team working on a Covid-19 vaccine first started holding weekly catchups in early February, Christina Dold, a 35-year-old senior postdoctoral researcher, jokingly referred to them as “Cobra” meetings. But it was in one of these early sessions that she found out how many volunteers they would be immunising daily, once the vaccine was ready to be tested. “I remember looking at a colleague. We were either going to cry or laugh, because the huge number of samples we’d have to process – potentially more than 100 a day – scared the living daylights out of us…”
This article first appeared in The Guardian on 4 July 2020. To continue reading, click here.
ON 20 January, KK Shailaja phoned one of her medically trained deputies. She had read online about a dangerous new virus spreading in China. “Will it come to us?” she asked. “Definitely, Madam,” he replied. And so the health minister of the Indian state of Kerala began her preparations…
This article first appeared in The Guardian on 14 May 2020. To continue reading, click here.
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…
This article first appeared in The Guardian on 11 March 2020. To continue reading, click here.