Stopping the Next Pandemic. Alina Chan (Part Two)

A crucial step in preventing the next global pandemic will be knowing where this one came from. Did SARS-CoV-2— the virus that causes Covid-19— jump from animals to humans, or was the outbreak the result of a lab leak? The world still doesn’t know the answer.  

This episode is part two of our wide-ranging interview with Alina Chan, a postdoctoral scientist who co-wrote an explosive online paper in May 2020. She argued that scientists and governments should investigate whether a virus from a laboratory in Wuhan, China caused the pandemic.

“It's not about holding one country accountable, because we are all accountable for this,” Alina tells us. “We're all in this together.”

In this episode, we discuss the need for much greater transparency when viral outbreaks occur. The world needs to adopt new policies and strategies to prevent or mitigate future outbreaks. Proposed solutions include: more regulation of scientific experiments— including “gain of function” research, better lab safety standards, greater international oversight of groups that study how viruses cross species barriers, and a global treaty governing viral research.

Alina Chan co-wrote “Viral” with British science writer Matt Ridley. “Unfortunately, there are no enforceable international biosafety and biosecurity standards,” they write. Their newly-published book has prompted further controversy and pushback from some well-known scientists. We think a full airing of the questions raised by Dr. Chan’s research is central to our mission at “How Do We Fix It?”

Recommendation: Jim is reading "In the Heart of The Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex”, by history writer Nathaniel Philbrick. The book won the 2000 National Book Award for Nonfiction. The Essex sank after a sperm whale attacked it in the Pacific Ocean in 1820. 

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