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    The New Yorker | Malcolm Gladwell | 9/21/97 | 51 min
    17 reads9 comments
    9.5
    The New Yorker
    17 reads
    9.5
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    • thorgalle1 week ago

      This started off slow but developed into an amazing read. It makes you feel like you learned something deeper about viruses.

      I was wondering, since this exhuming was supposed to happen in 1998, did Kirsty learn anything new about the Spanish flu?

      Wikipedia answers:

      After several more years of preparation, which involved garnering various permissions to perform the exhumations, the ground survey began in 1998. However, the samples were not viable, as the bodies were not in the permafrost, and the expedition ultimately proved a disappointment.[8]

      At least it brought us this article.

      1. Update (3/27/2020):

        For laughs: when I started reading this I Ctrl+Ffed "corona". No hits. How can you write an article about viruses today without mentioning corona?

        I read it fully without noticing that this was written in 1997. Only the comments here made me wiser.

    • deephdave
      Top reader this weekReading streakScout
      2 weeks ago

      History of virus, worth reading in the time of epidemic.

    • jeff
      ScoutScribe
      2 weeks ago

      A seriously awesome read about flu pandemics! Such a well-written piece. The extensive history, detailed scientific facts and stories of different researchers were all tied together so perfectly. Total 10.

    • SEnkey
      Scout
      3 weeks ago

      An article worth re-reading with everything going on.

      • bill
        Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
        2 weeks ago

        Epic find!!

    • Alexa
      ScoutScribe
      2 weeks ago

      WHOA. This was fascinating, so glad this got dug up! Countless interesting insights that apply to the modern times, and really deepened my understanding of flus and how these novel flus get around.

      Also this...not sure if it deserves a laugh, a nod, or a face palm...

      very year, early in the winter, the Food and Drug Administration hosts what some call the Flu Meeting, to insure that if the Spanish flu ever happened again we would not be unprepared.

      • bill
        Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
        2 weeks ago

        Yeah! So many vivid details. Gladwell is a living legend. I'm stoked that this is basically a lock for AOTD. Nice work!

    • bill
      Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
      2 weeks ago

      Wow. This deserves the AOTD trophy. 🏆 I want everyone to read this.

      This is slow news in all the best ways. Written in 1997, as though it was written for us, right now.

    • jackdille3 weeks ago

      Reasonably lengthy but so infatuating impossible to stop reading before completion. I learned a lot about virsuses and their functioning from this article.

      Some key quotes:

      If you got the flu last winter, for example, chances are you came down with h3n2 A/Wuhan/359/95; that is, a virus with No. 3 hemagglutinin, No. 2 neuraminidase, which was the three-hundred-and-fifty-ninth sample isolated from the Wuhan area of China in 1995. (The Wuhans were very big last year.)

      To supply the entire country with enough virus, vaccine makers have to do dozens of those batches, totalling millions of eggs. Then they have to purify the virus, test it, run it by the F.D.A., and then have it packaged, labelled, and sent to clinics around the country—all of which takes at least six months.

      The surveillance system is also specifically focussed on those parts of the world where flu is prevalent and the interspecies movement that creates pandemic strains is more likely to occur. That means China, where there are as many ducks as people, and where pigs are often raised on farms in close proximity to wild and domestic poultry. China has been the source of the last two pandemics, and most observers think it likely that the next will be from there as well, possibly arising out of the marshy resting sites for ducks both along the nation’s eastern seaboard and inland in an arc extending from Gansu Province to Guangxi, on the southern coast. Over the past few years, the Centers for Disease Control has funded ten flu laboratories in China. The number of strains sent to the C.D.C. from China every year has now reached two hundred, up from about a dozen several years ago.

      All this makes me wonder about the sentiment inside the CDC right now - I imagine it's at critical alert / panic levels.

      1. Update (3/12/2020):

        Also a great reminder that the flu and pandemics are not new and notoriously difficult to address.