In my view bats aren’t to blame for any of these spillovers. Bats are the unwilling reservoirs of these viruses. And we don’t become endangered by viruses that bats carry unless we mess around with bats… the bats don’t seek us out, and the viruses don’t seek us out.
In 2014, when David Quammen’s book Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, was published he did not realise that he was predicting our future.
Although Quammen wasn’t surprised when COVID-19 broke out, he was and has been astonished by our ill-prepared governments and has written about key aspects of the science that should inform our responses.
In this podcast, hear his insights into pandemics, his far-flung adventures and his enduring passion for telling the stories of science.
This podcast is hosted by Cat (Catharina) Vendl, presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas and is supported by Inspiring Australia as a part of National Science Week.
Photo credit: Lynn Donaldson
David Quammen is the author of The Song of the Dodo, Monster of God, The Reluctant Mr Darwin and Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic among other books. Spillover was a finalist for seven awards and won two: the Science and Society Book Award from the National Association of Science Writers, and the Society of Biology (UK) Book Award in General Biology. He has been honoured with the John Burroughs Medal for nature writing, an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an award in the art of the essay from PEN, and (three times) the National Magazine Award. Quammen is also a contributing writer for National Geographic.
Cat Vendl is a wildlife health researcher and science communicator in the Inter-Disciplinary Ecology and Evolution Lab at the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre in the School of Biological, Environmental and Earth Science at UNSW Sydney. In April 2020 she completed her PhD in the Mammal Lab at UNSW, where she investigated the respiratory microbiome of whales and dolphins and its potential use as an indicator for individual and population health. Cat also co-hosts The Boiling Point, a weekly science radio show and podcast, where she discusses fascinating findings in biology, astronomy, psychology, and interviews researchers about their work. Follow Cat on Twitter: @ScienceCath