An urgent case for how we could have stopped the Covid-19 pandemic—and how to make sure it never happens again
"MacKenzie's fascinating book gives us the scope and scale to be able to put this pandemic in perspective and, it begs the question, will we learn from this in time to prevent to next one?"—Molly Caldwell Crosby, bestselling author of The American Plague.
*Named one of the Best Science Books of the Year by the Financial Times*
The Covid-19 pandemic has left a trail of loss, misery, and economic ruin in its wake. With such destruction, can there be any silver lining? As veteran science journalist Debora MacKenzie illuminates in this captivating, acclaimed book, there is one: with the lessons learned from this disaster, we can stop it from happening again.
Here, in this fully revised and updated edition, she lays out the full story in accessible, gripping detail: the previous viruses that should have prepared us, the shocking public health failures that led to this catastrophe, the wrong decisions made at every turn. And employing what we have learned about viruses, vaccines, inequality, global cooperation, and more, she charts a bold, optimistic path forward for protecting humanity from threats to come. There is no question that more viruses are on the way, and we are still unprepared. But if we learn from our mistakes and heed the vision MacKenzie lays out in this book, we might avoid going through a nightmare like this – or worse - ever again.
About the Author
Debora MacKenzie has been covering emerging diseases for more than 30 years as a science journalist for outlets like New Scientist magazine. She has been reporting on COVID-19 from the start, and she was among the first journalists to suggest that it could become a pandemic. From SARs to rabies and Ebola to AIDs, she's been on the frontline in reporting on how pandemics form, why they spread, and how to stop them throughout her career. She has won the American Society for Microbiology Public Communication Award and two Association of British Science Writers awards. Before becoming a journalist, she worked as a biomedical researcher.
"Essential, enlightening reading in a time of panic and plague."—Kirkus (starred review)
"Science journalist MacKenzie delivers a wise and accurate account of the COVID-19 pandemic, supplying readers with an objective assessment of where we are, how we got here, and how to prepare for future emerging infections."—Booklist (starred review)
"[A] readable, essential account for all readers."—Library Journal (starred review)
"A heart-pounding telling of the misadventures that led to one of the worst pandemics in history. A story that we all think we know, but don't. And a story whose lessons, if unlearned, we will be condemned to repeat."—Dr. Paul Ofitt, Author of Pandora's Lab and Vaccinated, Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
"Whether it's cultural practices with animals like bats, or the fear and delay in labeling it pandemic, to a woeful lack of funding for public health and vaccine research, or the misguided notion that disease will recognize boundaries just because people do-MacKenzie's fascinating book gives us the scope and scale to be able to put this pandemic in perspective and, it begs the question, will we learn from this in time to prevent to next one."—Molly Caldwell Crosby, Bestselling Author of The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, The Epidemic That Shaped Our History
"A fascinating behind the scenes look . . . If someone asks you why the COVID19 epidemic happened and how we can prevent the next one, hand them this book."—Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, University of California San Diego, and co-author of The Perfect Predator: A Scientist's Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug
"This definitely deserves a read - the first of the post mortems by a writer who knows what she's talking about."—Laura Spinney, Author of Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World
"You could not hope for a better guide to the pandemic world order than Debora MacKenzie, who's been on this story from the start. This is an authoritative yet readable explanation of how this catastrophe happened - and more important, how it will happen again if we don't change."—Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist, Adapt, and Messy
"The best book for understanding how we got here."—Inverse.com
"Mackenzie, [a] feted writer with New Scientist, puts her experience of covering emerging diseases to excellent use here. She analyses clearly and authoritatively how the coronavirus pandemic played out, what governments should have done, and what we need to do when it happens again - as it undoubtedly will."—Financial Times
"[COVID-19] offers an informed and authoritative picture of the origin and character of the pandemic. It is a superb, accessible one-stop shop to bring readers up to date on the science behind this crisis."—The Lancet
Quickly spiralling from a local outbreak to a global crisis, Debora MacKenzie provides a down-to-earth account of how the COVID-19 pandemic has played out so far and, crucially, how the world can be better prepared for the ever-present risk of another epidemic.—Peter Piot, Author of No Time to Lose: A Life In Pursuit Of Deadly Viruses, Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, former head of UNAIDS, and Covid-19 survivor
"Debora MacKenzie is a leading science journalist, with vast experience writing about pandemic threats and neglected diseases. She uses her background to 'hit the ground running' on one of the first books written on the emergence of COVID-19. As politicians and elected leaders increasingly work to change the narrative on COVID-19 on their steps to first contain and mitigate the pandemic, Debora's efforts lay it all out in stark terms."—Dr. Peter Hotez, Author of Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel's Autism and Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine
"Immensely engaging to the casual reader, while providing a treasure trove of inside information, details, and perceptions that makes this an essential reference...In our present climate of regrettable tweets, unverified facts, and deliberate misinformation, this timely book provides a delightful and important excursion into the world of outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics."—Tim Sly, Professor Emeritus, Ryerson University School of Occupational and Public Health