So what is the coronavirus?

Yael Shalev-Vigiser | 20.07.2020 | Photo: Unsplash


An epidemic is the rapid spread of a disease. It is a medical, biological phenomenon. But medicine and biology alone are insufficient to fully understand the phenomenon. An epidemic is not only something that happens to us. The way we understand the disease and respond to it can tell us much about our society and culture.

At the end of April 2020, Prof. Oren Harman spoke with the renowned historian Prof. Charles Rosenberg to try to understand the social, cultural and political meaning of the coronavirus. Prof. Charles Rosenberg wrote the classic The Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849, and 1866, (1962) – a groundbreaking study that claimed that epidemics can only be understood through the context in which they occur. The examples of the cholera in the 19th century and of the AIDS epidemic in the 20th can help us understand the possible consequences COVID-19 may have on us all.

The conversation is in English with Hebrew subtitles.

Prof. Oren Harman is a senior research fellow at VLJI and heads the Talking about Science project that offers the general public lectures by researchers from a variety of scientific disciplines, who present their expertise in the face of the scientific challenges at the beginning of the 21st century.

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