Five lessons from past global influenza outbreaks for COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is a rare event in its scale and spread. But in responding to it, people have been looking at lessons from other outbreaks of infectious disease. What are the patterns in the ways that governments and people respond, and why have some widely-known lessons been ignored again and again? One source of…

Podcast: The Social Dynamics of Pandemics

The global pandemic Covid-19 is impacting people in many and varied ways. The effects on all our lives are immense and diverse, from rural and urban communities, young and old, from different geographic and economic groups, we are each living with different realities of a global crisis. In the April episode of Between the Lines,…

1970s illustration of two heads facing each other with cut out section showing cogs

Post-normal pandemics: Why COVID-19 requires a new approach to science

Guest post by David Waltner-Toews1, Annibale Biggeri2, Bruna De Marchi3, Silvio Funtowicz3, Mario Giampietro4,5, Martin O’Connor6,7, Jerome R. Ravetz8, Andrea Saltelli3,9 and Jeroen P. van der Sluijs3,10 READ THIS ARTICLE IN SPANISH: See alternative translations published by Democracia Sur and our partners Bioleft. In addressing pandemics, science has never seemed more needed and useful, while…

UK press conference

Science, uncertainty and the COVID-19 response

One of the abiding images of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the UK has been the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, looking nervous and uncomfortable, flanked by his scientific advisors at the regular press conferences. With three white men in suits in a wood-panelled room, the aim presumably was to project a sense of control and…

Learning from crises: state-citizen relations in the time of cholera

The cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe in 2008 was the worst ever recorded in Africa. There were nearly 100,000 infections and some 4,300 deaths. The disease swept through the crowded urban areas in particular, and spilled across the borders to neighbouring countries. The deadly bacterium caused illness and death, but also new forms of politics in…

Person with full-body protective clothing walks behind a fence

Preparing for pandemics and the role of uncertainty explored in new project

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) has announced a new project funded by the Wellcome Trust: Pandemic Preparedness: local and global concepts and practices in tackling disease threats in Africa. The project aims to track the meanings and concepts of pandemic preparedness at global, regional and local levels, and the ways these interconnect – or…

Freebook: Pathways to Health and Sustainability

The second in a series of FreeBooks from Routledge, Pathways to Health and Sustainability, is available to download free of charge. The FreeBooks allow open access, for the first time, to chapters from the STEPS Centre’s ‘Pathways to Sustainability’ book series, now numbering nearly 20 books. This new collection draws on four books in the…

The social life of infectious diseases: a new impact story from STEPS

A new multimedia story, ‘The social life of infectious diseases’ is the first in a new series of impact stories from the STEPS Centre. It traces how our thinking on avian flu, Ebola and other infectious diseases has evolved over the last ten years, and how we have engaged with debates, policy-making and practical action….

How to prevent epidemics: an optimist’s blog

  “The optimist is someone who believes the future is uncertain.” Leo Szilard   When I first studied epidemiology several decades ago, a story made the rounds that was supposed to make us feel that we were smart. If an old man came into a medical clinic with diarrhoea, the doctor would treat it. If…

El Niño predictions signal urgent need to prepare for Rift Valley fever epidemics in eastern Africa

Recent climate predictions suggest East Africa may be in line for an epidemic of Rift Valley fever (RVF) – an infectious disease which can hit people, their livestock and livelihoods, and national economies hard.