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The Coronavirus pandemic has devastated lives and livelihoods around the world – and continues to do so. These personal tragedies will, and must, be told and heard. There is, however, also a truthful and objective scientific narrative to be written about how the virus played out and how the world set about dealing with it. Spike is that story – from the inside. Its author, Jeremy Farrar, is one of the UK’s leading scientists and a member of the SAGE emergency committee.
As head of the Wellcome Trust, and an expert in emerging infectious diseases, Jeremy Farrar was one of the first people in the world to hear about a mysterious new respiratory disease in China – and to learn that it could readily spread between people. Farrar describes how it feels as one of the key scientists at the sharp end of a fast-moving situation, when complex decisions must be made quickly amid great uncertainty. His book casts light on the UK government’s claims to be ‘following the science’ in its response to the virus, and is informed not just by Farrar’s views but by interviews with other top scientists and political figures.
Farrar, who has spent his career on the frontlines of epidemics including Nipah virus in Malaysia, bird flu in Vietnam and Ebola in West Africa, also reflects on the wider issues of Covid-19: the breath-taking scientific advances in creating tests, treatments and vaccines; the challenge to world leaders to respond for the global good and the need to address inequalities that hold back success against the virus. All these shape how the world ultimately fares not just against Covid-19, but against all the major health challenges we face globally.