Scientific American contributing editor W. Wayt Gibbs reports from the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak: Kirkland, Wash. In this first installment of an ongoing series, he looks at why children seem to weather this disease better than adults and the complicated issue of shuttering schools.
Welcome to the first of a series of coronavirus episodes of Scientific American’s Science Talk, posted on March 10, 2020. I’m Steve Mirsky.
Wayt Gibbs was a member of the board of editors and a senior writer at Scientific American from 1993 to 2006. He’s now a contributing editor. And he’s in a unique position to bring us reporting and insights about the current coronavirus pandemic.
While at Scientific American, Gibbs wrote numerous articles that gave him experience highly relevant to the current situation.
In 1999, he wrote a piece titled “Trailing a Virus.” To research that article, he traveled into the hot zone of the highly lethal Nipah virus outbreak in Malaysia. Like coronavirus, that one also spread from bats to people.
He co-wrote the 2005 article [“Preparing for a Pandemic,”] which has obvious relevance for our current situation. That article is currently available free on our Web site.
He interviewed Bill Gates for a 2016 Q&A called “Bill Gates Views Good Data as Key to Global Health.” That piece is also up on the Web site.
And Gibbs wrote the 2016 article “What Ails The Human Race?” about a project called the Global Burden of Disease, which began a new chapter in epidemiological modeling. That work originated at the University of [Washington’s] Institute for Health Metrics [and Evaluation] in Seattle, where it continues to this day—and where Gibbs plans to go for reporting for a future podcast.
Which brings us to the second factor that makes Gibbs’s situation unique. In addition to being a science writer of great expertise in the area of epidemics, Gibbs lives in Kirkland, Wash.—the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak.
So what we envision for this series of podcasts is a combination of traditional science reporting and first-person accounts from Gibbs about the situation in Kirkland and the surrounding area, where the virus has, so far, hit the hardest in the U.S.
We plan on posting at least one podcast a week for the foreseeable future, as the coronavirus situation plays out. And now, here’s Wayt Gibbs.
[ADDITIONAL TRANSCRIPT TO COME]