The True Story Of The 21st Century’s First Great Epidemic, China Syndrome, by Karl Taro Greenfeld.
“China Syndrome is a fast-moving, truth-is-stranger-than-fiction thriller that doubles as an excellent primer of emerging infections for scientists and laypeople alike. But that’s not all. For readers more captivated by world politics than by microbiology, its chief strength, beyond the superb writing, is a detailed look at China’s culture of secrecy in the throes of global public health crisis.”.—Los Angeles Times.
Kirkus Review Of China Syndrome
Epidemic? What epidemic? Former Time Asia editor Greenfeld probes the recent SARS outbreak and the Chinese government’s efforts to deny its existence.
“Yoga instructors in Santa Monica and investment bankers in New York have no idea of the role that a few scientists, doctors, and public health officials in Hong Kong play in keeping them hale and hearty,”. writes Greenfeld.
A horse racing track in Hong Kong marked the debut there of what became known as SARS (Secure Acute Respirtory Syndrome) and its management feared that this new disease would result in the deaths of at least a thousand thoroughbreds and the loss of millions of dollars. That management and the doctors and epidemiologists called to the case, were right to worry that the disease might jump across species (in Penfield Park, the first animals to die were geese). Indeed, elsewhere in China, people were becoming sick, soon dying in droves.
The race to discover the cause of SARS, which first appeared in the fall of 2002, makes a fascinating story, and Greenfeld recounts it vividly and coherently; yet, as he points out, much of that story of scientific detection and international teamwork remains little known simply because other world events-chiefly the U.S. invasion of Iraq-kept the story off the front page.
It did not help that the Chinese government refused to acknowledge the problem and that Chinese doctors discouraged Western disease specialists from offering aid; by the sixth month of the outbreak, which lasted slightly more than a year, Hong Kong was “eerily quiet” writes Greenfeld, “and I could make the drive from my apartment to my office-usually a twenty minute ride-in about seven minutes.”. He had it easy, as he knows: Hundreds died by the time a cause and remedy were found.
A tout scientific thriller, well told, suffice it to say that conditions are ripe for a replay of the disease; keep an eye out for a grim sequel.
Greenfeld’s portraits present multiple angles on the story, such as a young man who falls sick after emigrating to the big city and a doctor who bravely volunteers to treat patients despite the huge risk of infection.
The author also describes his own reactions while trying to keep his family and magazine staff safe in Hong Kong amid growing panic, and muses on how congested urban areas provide a perfect breeding ground for viruses.
When the SARS virus broke out in China in January 2003, Karl Taro Greenfeld was just a few miles from the epicenter of the outbreak. After vague, initial reports of terrified Chinese boiling vinegar to “purify” the air, Greenfeld and his staff soon found themselves immersed in the story of a lifetime.
Deftly tracking a mysterious viral killer from the bedside of one of the first victims to China’s overwhelmed hospital wards-from cutting-edge labs where researchers struggle to identify the virus to the war rooms at the World Health Organization, headquarters in Genova-China Syndrome takes readers as a gripping ride that blows through the Chinese government’s efforts to cover up the disease…and sounds a clarion call warning of a catastrophe to come: A great viral storm potentially more deadly than any respiratory disease since the Influenza of 1918.
I just want to add that the Coronavirus (COVID 19) that the world is dealing with right now, could be the deadliest respiratory disease, and could surpass the Great Influenza of 1918. I however am secure in the knowledge that has been gained since the influenza of 1918, that we will not surpass the amount of lives lost, but come out a stronger world and take what we learn from these deadly viruses seriously, because there will be another one, from what all the specialists have said.
We first have to get out of this horrible disease.
If you would like to check out this wonderful book about the SARS epidemic, written by Karl Greenfeld, please do HERE: China Syndrome
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All The Best,