Lectures

Reflecting on SARS, 17 years and two flu-like epidemics later

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On April 12, 2003, I was evacuated from my post teaching English at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, China. I packed my belongings into two suitcases and a duffle bag, got on a bus, crossed the border into Hong Kong, and flew, with my N95 mask on, back to the United States. It was the height of China’s outbreak of SARS, …

Features

Untimely Ends and the Pandemic Imaginary

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It was one of those typical late spring afternoons in Beijing, when the desert sand blowing from the North begins to give way to an electric atmosphere more pregnant with thunder than rain. Seated on a covered leather-armchair, I tried to concentrate my attention away from the rasp of the polyethene sheet under me and repeat the question: So what …

Features

Where Has SARS Gone? The Strange Case of the Disappearing Coronavirus

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The emergence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in China’s Guangdong Province in the winter of 2002 was an exemplary spillover event: it marked the passage of a lethal pathogen from nonhuman to human animals and was widely heralded as the first “plague” of the twenty-first century. The SARS coronavirus seemed to burst out of nowhere and demonstrated …