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

Books on Tape. Mar. 2022. 13:41 hrs. ISBN 9780593506165. $95. MED
Thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, coronaviruses are part of our popular consciousness. But prior to 2020, they weren’t a hot topic for scientific investigation. Epidemiologist Werb (City of Omens) shares the story of Ralph Baric, a virologist who began studying the coronavirus family in the 1980s, when the field was best described as a “scientific backwater.” Baric’s concerns about species-to-species transmission came to fruition during the SARS outbreak of 2003 and the MERS outbreak of 2012, and Werb chronicles the scramble to unlock the genomes of these deadly viruses in order to find a cure. This foundational understanding of the coronavirus genome gave researchers the ability to quickly respond to COVID-19. In addition, research on mRNA vaccines as a response to these earlier coronavirus outbreaks hastened the development of the COVID-19 vaccines. The sobering conclusion? It’s a matter of when—not if—the next coronavirus makes the jump from animals to humans. Jason Culp’s steady, measured narration helps listeners navigate the complex material, highlighting the tension, excitement, and drama of scientific discovery.
VERDICT A well-presented book on an all-too-timely topic; suggest to readers who enjoy titles by David Quammen.
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