Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Our interest in pathogens has peaked recently, for obvious reasons. And while this session is not specifically about COVID-19, there are many overlapping themes. The 1918 influenza pandemic killed more than 50 million people, but although it was a virus that first invaded the body, bacterial infection in the lungs was ultimately responsible for most of the deaths. In its starred review, Kirkus Reviews calls Muhammad Zaman’s Biography of Resistance “a vivid portrayal of our fight against an opponent that has been around for more than 3 billion years. [Zaman] portrays a conflict—between humans and harmful strains of bacteria—that has played out in plagues and epidemics over millennia.” Fighting drug-resistant bacteria requires international cooperation, not to mention the participation of drug companies, which have little economic incentive to invest in antibiotic research. Drug companies are the subject of virologist and drug industry expert Peter Kolchinsky’s The Great American Drug Deal. He argues that there are solutions to the trade-off between drug affordability, innovation, and the drive for profits. In the end, it’s the insurance companies that Kolchinsky calls out for making an already bad situation worse. Kirkus Reviews calls The Great American Drug Deal a “serious, impassioned, and informed call for change.” Join us for this eye-opening and urgent session, hosted by Deborah Becker, senior correspondent and host at WBUR, the media sponsor for this session.