Review – The End of Epidemics

Posted 6 September, 2019 by Nikki in Reviews / 4 Comments

The End of Epidemics, Dr Jonathan Quick

Dr Jonathan Quick has a bold claim in the title of this book: the end of epidemics? Does he really think he can stop all epidemics, any epidemics, from ever happening again? The answer, in case you were worried, is no: he’s not quite that full of hubris. Instead, his recommendations are focused on avoiding local outbreaks becoming global pandemics, through improving the way we handle emerging infectious diseases in various ways. His ideas rest on improving leadership, infrastructure, monitoring, education, and response time. For the most part, if you’re interested in infectious diseases then his answers are obvious to you: of course we need a leader who will coordinate resources properly. Of course we need infrastructure to get people and equipment to the right places. Of course we need to monitor exactly what diseases might be currently posing a threat.

There are some interesting dissections of epidemics past and the reasons they did or didn’t explode into pandemics, along with healthy criticism of the WHO. There’s a fair amount of worry about bioterrorism, particularly with the advent of CRISPR; this is a threat we haven’t really seen materialising yet, probably because an infectious disease is so hard to control. You can’t make an epidemic avoid the people you agree with, after all. This makes me somewhat sceptical about the likelihood of someone releasing something like smallpox, apart from possibly as a lunatic ‘destroy everyone’ move.

Anyway, as ever there’s useful ideas in here, but it’s probably not getting into the hands of people who could make a genuine difference anyway. I’m not sure what the purpose of releasing this as a pop-science book was, exactly, though I suppose it serves some purpose in educating people.

Rating: 3/5

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4 Responses to “Review – The End of Epidemics”

  1. arbie

    I was interested to learn that in the current Ebola outbreak a big problem is that many locals refuse to accept what is believed to be an extremely effective vaccine for various reasons. Does the book discuss this type of social/political/educational impediment to effective action?

  2. An end-of-days lunatic spreading a virus was cleverly portrayed in Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys. Unfortunately, since the film came out, we’ve seen too many fanatics willing to bring humanity and the globe to a whimpering end for one extreme cause or another. Dystopia, as the bookshop sign says, is now in the current affairs section.

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