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Award-winning author and journalist David Quammen revisits his book Spillover in the wake of our current pandemic.

He talks about 

  • How the covid-19 pandemic was predicted stage by stage exactly as it has happened,
  • What the possibilities are for another spillover virus, and
  • What can we expect for the next few years and how best to prepare for and prevent future pandemics.

David Quammen has specialized in how viruses leave animals that are in close proximity with us. He wrote his 2013 book Spillover  about Ebola, bird flu, SARS, and other diseases. It raised concerns over the next spillover virus and future pandemics.

He describes how he got interested in the subject after covering a national geographic expedition across the Congo through the Ebola habitat. His interest progressed into research of the ecology and evolutionary biology of zoonotic diseases. 

He comments that he tried to highlight patterns in his book, and in fact ten years ago had a conversation with a researcher that predicted that exact scenario of the covid-19 eruption, down to the Wuhan market. What has surprised him therefore about this spillover virus has actually been the surprise of the global community rather that the virus itself.

He talks more about these past predictions as well as what information and sources he trusts today. He adds thoughts about how he sees the virus progressing and remarks he expects it to take on behavior similar to the measles model rather than influenza and why.

He adds that there are going to be other spillover viruses and we need the political will to invest in more investigating, testing, preventing, ventilator capacity, ICU capacity, and more in order to prepare.

To find out more, see his website,, and follow his articles in publications like the New Yorker as well as his books such as Spillover.

He’s currently working on a book about Covid-19.


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