The Invisible Siege: The Rise of Coronaviruses and the Search for a Cure

Crown. Mar. 2022. 384p. ISBN 9780593239230. $28. SCI
Werb (epidemiology, Univ. of Calif., San Diego) takes a look at coronaviruses, one of 26 viral families that infect humans, and traces what makes them different, why we’ve seen so many recent outbreaks, and how future ones may be contained or prevented. Using the 2002 SARS epidemic as a starting point, Werb looks for past outbreaks that may have been coronavirus-related. Research into this type of virus accelerates with subsequent epidemics (e.g., MERS in 2012), along with technological advances in genetic analysis and drug manufacture, which together means that the world was primed and ready to immediately begin testing both vaccines and drug treatments when COVID emerged in 2020. Werb profiles important COVID researchers and illuminates flawed research funding mechanisms (e.g., when epidemics wane, governments often defund research, leaving them less prepared for future pandemics; and pharmaceutical companies are generally unwilling to launch expensive development programs when payoffs are unknown, especially for rare diseases or those affecting the global poor).
VERDICT Great for those who want to understand the science of fighting pandemics while trying to avoid conspiracy theories and politicization.
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