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Uncontrolled Spread summary

Scott Gottlieb

Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic

3.9 (204 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

Uncontrolled Spread by Scott Gottlieb sheds light on how COVID-19 came to be a pandemic and outlines ways to better prepare ourselves for future health crises. The book highlights the importance of timely and coordinated public health interventions to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

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    Uncontrolled Spread
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    Early information on the COVID-19 outbreak was hard to come by.

    On January 18, 2020, the author, Scott Gottlieb, traded worried messages with Joe Grogan of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council. Both men were wondering about a new viral pneumonia outbreak in China, and both had previously worked at the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA. Gottlieb, having worked there since 2003, had just stepped down as commissioner in April 2019.

    In all those years, Gottlieb had tracked various SARS, MERS, Ebola, and Zika outbreaks. Some hit close to home, while others kept their distance. But on January 18, Gottlieb let Grogan know that he wasn’t so sure about the outbreak they were currently facing. 

    Truth be told, he was worried.

    The key message here is: Early information on the COVID-19 outbreak was hard to come by.

    One of the first red flags that Gottlieb noticed was that the information coming out of China was unreliable. The number of infected patients was hard to pin down, as was the question of whether this virus was capable of spreading person-to-person. Both China and the WHO – that is, the World Health Organization – were sticking to the claim that the outbreak had only infected people who’d been exposed to a particular zoonotic source at an outdoor food market in the city of Wuhan. In other words, they were suggesting that people had caught the virus directly from an animal.

    But the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, the CDC, was already picking up evidence that the virus was spreading among these people’s family members and infecting others who hadn’t gone anywhere near the food market. Gottlieb wasn’t surprised at China’s withholding of information. In 2005, the Chinese government had tried to hide the SARS-1 outbreak from the world at large, as well as its own people.

    Now, it seemed, it was doing it again. In mid-December, multiple people had shown up at hospitals throughout Wuhan with mysterious and aggressive pneumonia-like symptoms. Unable to identify the cause, doctors sent lung fluid samples out for genomic sequencing analysis. 

    One of the first results came back on December 27. Confirmation: this was a new respiratory virus, one that looked a lot like SARS-1, which had killed around 800 people worldwide. The news was cause for concern, but rather than raise the alarm, Beijing’s National Health Commission instead ordered that all sequencing data be kept secret. 

    Weeks later, China and the WHO continued to minimize the threat, repeating the claim that there was “no clear evidence” of person-to-person transmission.

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    What is Uncontrolled Spread about?

    Uncontrolled Spread (2021) takes an unsparing look at the many problems the United States faced when confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Through a combination of factors, the US was unprepared for what occurred. But it’s possible to learn from this tragedy and make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

    Uncontrolled Spread Review

    Uncontrolled Spread (2022) is a thought-provoking examination of the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here's why this book is a must-read:

    • With insider knowledge from a former FDA commissioner, it offers a unique perspective on the government's response to the pandemic.
    • It provides a comprehensive analysis of the science, policy, and public health measures that shaped the course of the pandemic, making it informative and insightful.
    • The book delves into the ethical dilemmas and political pressures that affected decision-making, making it a compelling read that goes beyond just the facts.

    Who should read Uncontrolled Spread?

    • People keen to learn more about the US’s response to the COVID pandemic
    • Anyone interested in how we can be more prepared against future threats

    About the Author

    Scott Gottlieb is the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration in the US. He is also a contributor to CNBC and sits on the board of directors at the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and is considered one of the “50 People Transforming Healthcare” by Time magazine.

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    Uncontrolled Spread FAQs 

    What is the main message of Uncontrolled Spread?

    Uncontrolled Spread explores the causes and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering insights on how to prevent future outbreaks.

    How long does it take to read Uncontrolled Spread?

    The reading time for Uncontrolled Spread varies. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Uncontrolled Spread a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Uncontrolled Spread is a must-read for understanding the COVID-19 crisis. It provides valuable knowledge and actionable recommendations.

    Who is the author of Uncontrolled Spread?

    The author of Uncontrolled Spread is Scott Gottlieb.

    What to read after Uncontrolled Spread?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Uncontrolled Spread, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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