NO TIME TO LOSE by Peter Piot


A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses
Email this review


London School of Tropical Medicine director Piot gives a boots-on-the-ground account of the global struggle to contain two potentially devastating pandemics: Ebola hemorrhagic fever and AIDS.

The former U.N. undersecretary general and director of UNAIDS describes himself as a “privileged witness and actor in the history of two of the most extraordinary adventures of our time.” Growing up in a small Flemish farming village, his concern to “work for greater social justice and to travel” led him to choose infectious diseases as a medical specialty, despite advice from a professor who claimed that contagious diseases were mostly under control. In 1976, as a newly minted doctor and microbiologist, he was working in an Antwerp laboratory when they received samples of the then-unknown Ebola virus. There was a deadly outbreak in Zaire, and he was sent there to work with an international medical team to discover its mode of transmission and learn more about its characteristics. The major cause of the contagion was faulty sanitation in hospitals and in preparations for funerals; thankfully, public-health measures ultimately contained the virus. In addition to chronicling his work with the disease, Piot graphically describes the government’s corruption and the impoverishment of the population. Six years later, AIDS surfaced as a disease apparently restricted to gay men, but cases began emerging of men and women in Africa and elsewhere who were not gay but exhibited symptoms of the disease. Blood donors and drug users were also being infected. At an international conference, Piot connected with U.S. infectious disease specialists from the National Institutes of Health. Through these contacts, he was able to procure American and European funding for “a second trip to Zaire that changed [his] life.”

An absorbing memoir in which the author learns to combat deadly diseases and maneuver in the international political scene.

Pub Date: May 28th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-393-06316-5
Page count: 380pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2012


NonfictionAN IMPERFECT OFFERING by James Orbinski
by James Orbinski
NonfictionFREEDOM’S BATTLE by Gary J. Bass
by Gary J. Bass
NonfictionBEYOND GOOD INTENTIONS by Tori Hogan
by Tori Hogan


NonfictionRABID by Bill Wasik
by Bill Wasik
NonfictionTHE HUMAN RIGHT TO HEALTH by Jonathan Wolff
by Jonathan Wolff
NonfictionBACK TO THE CONGO by Lieve Joris
by Lieve Joris