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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Preventable uses the spellbinding story of the COVID-19 pandemic to show how global politics shape our health.

Professor Devi Sridhar has risen to prominence for her vital roles in communicating science to the public and speaking truth to power. In Preventable, she highlights lessons learned from outbreaks past and present in a narrative that traces the COVID-19 pandemic—including her personal experience as a scientist—and sets out a vision for how we can better protect ourselves from the inevitable health crises to come.

In gripping and heartfelt prose, Sridhar exposes the varied realities of those affected (from the jailed doctor in Wuhan who sounded the alarm, and the bored passengers marooned on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, to the daily nightmares of exhausted healthcare workers), and puts you in the room with key decision makers at crucial moments (from over-confident heads of states and their hesitant scientific advisors, to the beleaguered leaders of global health organisations).

Sridhar vibrantly conveys the twists and turns of a plot that saw: deadlier variants emerge (contrary to the predictions of social media pundits who argued it would mutate to a milder form); the Pyrrhic victory in many countries of the false narrative of health versus the economy (those countries which controlled the virus, like Taiwan and Denmark, had a steadier recovery); countries with weak health systems like Senegal and Vietnam fare better than countries like the US and UK (which were consistently ranked as the most prepared); and the quickest development of game-changing vaccines in history (and their unfair distribution).

Combining science, politics, ethics and economics, this definitive book dissects the global structures that determine our fate, and reveals the deep-seated economic and social inequalities at their heart—it will challenge, outrage and inspire.

©2022 Devi Sridhar (P)2022 Penguin Audio

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Expected more

As someone with expertise in this area and knowledgeable about this particular subject, I feel it missed key elements and also was quite light on How to Stop the Next One. I think this was rushed to publication.

Prof Sridhar could have brought much more insight to why this particular virus came here- and its key features that gave it fitness- as well as the key mistakes around communication to the public that the scientific advisers had a big hand in. Failures in vaccine strategy and evidence based medicine (primary and secondary care) too, Not to mention the performance of the pharmaceutical industry and the regulatory agencies, and many academics - including a few Nobel Laureates.
The failure of the media to hold power to account has to have been one of the defining moments that enabled scores of deaths - I had not realised journalists were so incompetent, or that so many engaged in client journalism. There are at least five major areas of scandalous performance associated with this crisis, aside from areas that are not her expertise such as war profiteering, that don't get a mention.
A sitting professor can only go so far, of course.

The failure to communicate is still a live issue today, two and half years into an international pandemic.
Major hospital networks in the NHS (UK) are still debating the use of masks for a respiratory virus, would you believe.

I have serious doubts about how much we have learnt, and fear for public health leadership and expertise going forward.

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Worth reliving the pandemic for!

A really engaging, accessible and incredibly interesting assessment of the covid-19 pandemic and what it must teach us ahead of the next pandemic.

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10/10 Recommend

Dr Sridhar's ability to explain what happened in an easily digestible, accessible way is second to none. By explaining the virus, it's progress around the world and the relationship between Politics and Global Health, you'll feel informed, hopeful and maybe a little let down by your representatives, but a strong sense of security in the Scientific community.