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.

The big idea: should other species have their own money?

ONLY about 120,000 orangutans remain in the wild, and despite the whopping $1bn that has been spent on protecting them since 2000, their numbers continue to decline. The orangutan is the most endangered great ape, but the picture is only marginally less grim for the others – except us, of course – and the trend is the same across the living world: we’re witnessing a sixth mass extinction. Given that current conservation efforts aren’t working fast enough, many feel it is time for some out-of-the-box thinking. It doesn’t come much further out than giving other species their own money, but that proposal is now on the table. The first to benefit might be our intelligent, red-haired cousins…

This article first appeared in The Guardian on Saturday 12 March. To continue reading, click here.

 

Zoom trials and kitten lawyers

ON 18 May 2020, Judge Emily Miskel heard a run-of-the-mill case concerning a disputed insurance payout for wind and hail damage to a building. Normally she would have expected little public interest, but that day around 1,200 people observed deliberations in Collin County, Texas – not from inside the courtroom, which was closed by the pandemic, but via YouTube. The case had been billed as the world’s first virtual jury trial, with all participants communicating via Zoom…

This article first appeared in New Statesman on 19 February 2022. To continue reading, click here: https://www.newstatesman.com/technology/2022/02/zoom-trials-and-kitten-lawyers-inside-the-e-justice-revolution

 

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.

 

writer & journalist