Alina Chan and Matt Ridley to publish book about the origins of Covid-19

VIRAL: THE SEARCH FOR THE ORIGIN OF COVID-19 by Alina Chan and Matt Ridley will be published by HarperCollins in November 2021.

It’s the greatest whodunnit mystery of the century: how did the first detected outbreak of Covid-19 start in Wuhan city?

We know that the natural reservoir of SARS-related coronaviruses is in bats, but we do not how, where, and when SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19, acquired the ability to begin infecting people.

Dr Alina Chan of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has gained recognition as a leading voice in analysing the origin of Covid-19, having been drawn into the topic by her own observation of the strange lack of rapid genetic adaptation of the virus in its human host during the early months of the pandemic.

Over several months Alina has been working with the renowned science writer Matt Ridley, author of the bestsellers GENOME and THE RATIONAL OPTIMIST. Their remarkable collaboration has resulted in a gripping narrative, VIRAL, that explores every twist and turn in the detective work done by scientists and amateur internet sleuths to understand exactly what happened in Wuhan in 2019 and before.

Set in the caves and mineshafts, food markets and wildlife smugglers’ stores, laboratories and databases of China and elsewhere around the world, VIRAL is a page-turner that goes deeper into the greatest mystery of the day than any other work. This is the book on the search for the origin of Covid-19.

Both authors have spoken about their collaboration:

Chan said: "When Matt proposed a collaboration on a book chronicling the search for the origin of Covid-19, I knew that we had to write it. As a towering figure in the world of science writing [Ridley] and [Chan], a scientist working at the cutting-edge of genetic engineering, we have both been meticulously following and contributing to the search for the origin for more than a year. We wanted to make sure that the story is properly told and becomes canon."

Ridley added: "This has turned out to be one of the most extraordinary writing projects of my career, combining genetics and zoology with mystery and drama. To work alongside a scientist of the integrity and insightfulness of Alina on a topic of huge importance for the whole world has been fascinating."