December 05, 2020
When R numbers have been daily news, and medical officers have shared platforms with politicians, Gaia Vince reflects on a challenging and exhilarating year of being a science writer
Following the science: the writers who have made sense of Covid
This year has had the makings of an epic saga: a monstrous disease that took over the world, killing the oldest, poorest and most vulnerable, imprisoning the population in lockdown – and the heroic scientists who battled day and night to create a miracle vaccine to defeat it. Books are already being written about their quest, and we will rush to read them, hoping to understand more about this terrible pandemic and how it was ended.
It has been an extraordinary year to be a science writer, watching the formerly niche subjects of epidemiology, virology and immunology take centre stage – a bit like how it must be for constitutional law experts when a new Brexit detail is announced. Suddenly, being a scientist – and writing about science – was more interesting to the public than making movies or playing Football (especially when neither of these was allowed). The scramble to get a grip on this invisible global killer was all-consuming, and writers rose to the challenge, producing reams of coverage: the disease was only officially named severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (Sars-CoV-2) on 11 February; by June, the first book on it had been published.
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