A reading club with a view to the future

009 Ali Khan: The Next Pandemic

Dr. Ali Khan, a former CDC disease detective, explains how viruses can spread quickly and how we can best protect ourselves from the next global outbreak.

Ali Khan: The Next Pandemic


In "The Next Pandemic", Dr. Ali S. Khan draws on his experience working as a disease detective for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to explain the science behind infectious diseases and the threat they pose to global health. The book covers a range of topics, including the history of pandemics, the biology of viruses and how they spread, and the role of government and other organizations in preparing for and responding to outbreaks. Ultimately, Dr. Khan argues that while pandemics are inevitable, we can take steps to mitigate their impact and prevent them from becoming global catastrophes.


Title: The Next Pandemic

Author: Ali S. Khan

Publishing year: 2017

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Length in hours: 8 hours and 54 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. Pandemics are a natural part of the global ecosystem and are likely to occur periodically.
  2. The speed at which pandemics spread has increased due to global travel and interconnectedness.
  3. Effective response to pandemics requires a coordinated effort from governments, healthcare organizations, and the public.
  4. Science and technology play a crucial role in the prevention and control of pandemics.
  5. Addressing the root causes of pandemics, such as poverty and lack of access to healthcare, can help reduce their impact.
Ali Khan: The Next Pandemic

5 funny quotes

  1. "If you're feeling sick, stay home. If you have a fever, drink fluids and watch Netflix. If you start coughing up blood, seek medical attention immediately."
  2. "I can't believe I get paid to wear a white suit and carry a clipboard."
  3. "Scientists love to play with viruses like a cat plays with a ball of yarn. The difference is that viruses can kill you."
  4. "I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but I've seen more dead bodies than most people will see in their entire lifetime."
  5. "Pandemic prevention is like car insurance - you hope you'll never need it, but you're glad you have it when you do."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "A pandemic is a cataclysmic event that has the potential to cause death and illness on a scale that is difficult to imagine. Pandemics are the great levelers, striking without regard to social status or financial resources."
  2. "The next pandemic is not a matter of if, but when."
  3. "To be successful in controlling outbreaks, we need a robust public health infrastructure with the capacity to detect, investigate, and respond to emerging infectious disease threats."
  4. "Science and technology are not only the keys to preventing pandemics, but also the keys to managing them when they do occur."
  5. "We live in a globalized world where infectious diseases can travel quickly and easily from one side of the planet to another. To stop the next pandemic, we need a global approach to disease surveillance, detection, and response."

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing individual rights with public health measures in a pandemic.
  2. Prioritizing vaccine distribution among different populations during a pandemic.
  3. Balancing economic concerns with public health measures during a pandemic.
  4. Addressing the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories during a pandemic.
  5. Balancing the need for global cooperation in responding to a pandemic with the interests of individual nations.

5 examples

  1. The 1918 flu pandemic, also known as the Spanish flu, killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.
  2. The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa from 2014-2016 killed more than 11,000 people.
  3. The SARS outbreak in 2003 originated in China and spread to other countries, infecting more than 8,000 people and killing nearly 800.
  4. The H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009-2010 infected an estimated 1 billion people and killed more than 500,000 worldwide.
  5. The COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China in late 2019, has infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

Referenced books

  1. "The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History" by John M. Barry
  2. "Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic" by David Quammen
  3. "The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story" by Richard Preston
  4. "The Rules of Contagion: Why Things Spread - and Why They Stop" by Adam Kucharski
  5. "Pandemic 1918: Eyewitness Accounts from the Greatest Medical Holocaust in Modern History" by Catharine Arnold

Share a quote

"Pandemic prevention is like car insurance - you hope you'll never need it, but you're glad you have it when you do."

Ali Khan: The Next Pandemic
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