In 1918 the Spanish influenza pandemic claimed the lives of up to 100 million people – as much as five percent of the world’s population.

Ever since, scientists have dreamed of preventing catastrophic outbreaks of infectious disease. Yet, despite a century of medical progress, viral and bacterial disasters continue to take us by surprise, inciting panic and dominating news cycles.

On the 100th anniversary of the flu’s arrival, join Mark Honigsbaum, author of The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria and Hubris, and Joanna Verran, a microbiologist with an interest in contagion literature. Don’t miss this myth-busting discussion as we explore the limits of science against nature and ask the question: how long until the next epidemic?

About The Host

John Mitchinson

John Mitchinson is the head of research for British television panel game QI. He is co-writer of the QI series of books with the show’s creator John Lloyd. He has also written 1,411 Quite Interesting Facts to Knock You Sideways with John Lloyd and James Harkin. He is cofounder of Unbound, and presents Unbound’s literature podcast Backlisted.

About The Authors

Mark Honigsbaum

Mark Honigsbaum is a medical historian and journalist specialising in infectious disease. A regular contributor to The Observer and The Lancet, his books include a global history of malaria and a social history of the 1918 influenza pandemic. He is currently a lecturer at City, University of London.

Joanna Verran

Joanna Verran is Emeritus Professor of Microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has always been fascinated by the representation of science – particularly microbiology – in fiction and has run the Bad Bugs Bookclub for the past 10 years. She has been awarded the AAAS Public Engagement with Science in 2019.