22 September 2021

The Long View: Cholera and the inequitable origins of public health diplomacy

The arrival of cholera on European shores in the 19th Century helped kick off the long path towards modern global health institutions and diplomacy. However, these beginnings were anything but fair.

20 August 2021

The Long View: Clothing Against Death

In the absence of good vaccines, doctors treating epidemic diseases must rely on cumbersome PPE as their one safety net. At least modern hazmat suits, unlike the 17th century plague doctor's all-leather outfit, actually work.

10 August 2021

The Long View: John Snow and the Pump Handle of Public Health

The narrative of the Broad Street pump is the story of a vital epidemiological discovery; it’s also a story about discovery: it has the tidy, conclusive quality of a fable about science. But in the years after its discovery, John Snow’s theory of water-borne disease had to overcome a familiar enemy of good public health: politics.

30 July 2021

The Long View: A Deadly Alliance – War and the Pandemic Influenza of 1918

As World War I reached its climax, a terrible influenza pandemic broke out. By summer 1919, it had claimed many more lives than the conflict – but the conflict, researchers say, helped create the conditions for the devastating spread of the so-called “Spanish Flu”.

1 July 2021

The Long View: The Iron Lung

Before 1955, when a vaccine first made polio a preventable illness, the paralysing disease had to be treated. For many, the best option was the iron lung, a device that came to symbolise an era of anxiety in mid-20th century America.

18 June 2021

The Long View: The tragedy of Typhoid Mary

Mary Mallon was branded a public menace and incarcerated after typhoid outbreaks across New York City were linked to her presence in the kitchen. Was she unfairly demonised?

31 May 2021

The Long View: Keeping vaccines cool with cold chain

With millions of COVID-19 vaccines now being delivered around the world, they are utilising a huge hidden infrastructure, built up over decades and spreading across the globe, with one ultimate goal: keeping the vaccines cool. How did these vaccine “cold chains” evolve, and why are they so important?

27 May 2021

The Long View: Yellow Fever and the Panama Canal

At the turn of the 20th Century, US researchers in Cuba made the historic discovery that mosquitoes spread yellow fever. The finding was not only a medical breakthrough; it would also make possible one of the world’s greatest feats of engineering.

21 May 2021

The Long View: How Yellow Fever decimated the USA’s first capital

In 1793, with the United States of America less than 20 years old, a yellow fever epidemic decimates the capital city, Philadelphia, and shines a spotlight on stark racial and social inequalities.

12 May 2021

The Long View: Masking Trouble

As the Spanish flu of 1918-1920 tore through America, a San Francisco mayor bet on the potential of face masks to contain the spread. Then, like today, the demand to mask up met resistance that blended distrust, ideology and gut feeling.

Subscribe to our newsletter