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Since the identification of the first cases of the coronavirus in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, there has been a significant amount of confusion regarding the origin and spread of the so-called 'coronavirus', officially named SARS-CoV-2, and the cause of the disease COVID-19. Conflicting messages from the media and officials across different countries and organizations, the abundance of disparate sources of information, unfounded conspiracy theories on the origins of the newly emerging virus and the inconsistent public health measures across different countries, have all served to increase the level of anxiety in the population. Where did the virus come from? How is it transmitted? How does it cause disease? Is it like flu? What is a pandemic? What can we do to stop its spread? Written by a leading expert, this concise and accessible introduction provides answers to the most common questions surrounding coronavirus for a general audience.
2. How is the coronavirus spreading?
3. What is a coronavirus
4. How is the coronavirus changing?
5. How did the COVID-19 outbreak start and evolve?
6. How does the COVID-19 outbreak compare to the SARS outbreak in 2002–2003?
7. How does the COVID-19 outbreak compare to seasonal and pandemic influenza?
8. Are there therapeutic options?
Summary of common misunderstandings
Suggested further reading.
Raul Rabadan is a Professor in the Department of Systems Biology and Biomedical Informatics, as well as the director of the Program for Mathematical Genomics, at Columbia University. From 2001 to 2003, Dr. Rabadan was a fellow at the Theoretical Physics Division at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2003 he joined the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He has been named one of Popular Science's Brilliant 10 (2010), a Stewart Trust Fellow (2013), and he received the Harold and Golden Lamport (2014), Diz Pintado (2018) and Phillip Sharp (2018) awards. Dr. Rabadan's current interest focuses on uncovering patterns of evolution in biological systems – in particular, RNA viruses and cancer.
"With all the technology and medical knowledge of the 21st century a pandemic virus has defeated us. This book tells us why and how that could happen and what we can do about it. And as a bonus we get a comparison with the 1918 pandemic Flu. All this wrapped up in a clear, understandable and interesting way. We learn what is happening to us now and how to better prepare for the future."
– Arnold J. Levine, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey
"An extremely concise and important book that everyone should read to understand the dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic."
– Siddhartha Mukherjee, Columbia University, New York, and author of The Gene and The Emperor of All Maladies
"Raul Rabadan has written an essential book for the first pandemic of the 21st century, COVID19 caused by SARS-CoV-2. It's a wonderfully concise and accessible explanation of everything you want to know about the virus, the disease, and the outbreak. If you want to learn what is a coronavirus, how the outbreak started, what are the therapeutic options, and much more, I highly recommend this book. Professor Rabadan explains viruses in a way that is accessible to all."
– Vincent Racaniello, Columbia University, New York