David Quammen


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The Bodley Head
6 October 2022
ISBN: 9781847926685
416 pages

From the publisher

From the author of the prescient Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic

Breathless is the story of the scientific quest to decipher, control and fight Covid-19.

Breathless traces SARS-CoV-2's fierce journey through the human population as seen by the scientists who study its origin, ever-changing nature and capacity to kill. It shows how strange viruses emerge as we disrupt wild ecosystems - sometimes causing global catastrophe - and suggests this coronavirus could be a 'forever virus' that's destined to bedevil us endlessly.

Quammen also explains that experts saw this pandemic coming; that scientists warned 'the next big one' would be caused by a changeable new virus, but were ignored for political or economic reasons; and that while the origins of this virus may not be known for years, some suppositions are compelling and others can be dismissed.

Breathless takes us inside the frantic international effort to control SARS-CoV-2 as if peering over the shoulders of the brilliant scientists who led the chase.

Praise for Spillover:

'A frightening and fascinating masterpiece of science reporting' Walter Isaacson

'A real-life thriller with an outcome that affects us all' Elizabeth Kolbert