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Episode #20 | Matthew Bonds: COVID-19 – What’s Next?

“Science is moving faster than I’ve ever seen it in my life.”

– Matthew Bonds


Infectious disease specialist Matthew Bonds shares the science behind diseases, pandemics, how they spread, and how they are contained. Having spent time studying and working to improve health care delivery systems in countries such as Rwanda and Madagascar, Matthew brings a unique perspective to this conversation on the pandemic reshaping every aspect of modern life.

About Matthew Bonds

matt bonds coronavirus philanthropy

Matthew Bonds has doctorates in economics and infectious disease ecology. He uses mathematical models of ecological systems to understand the dynamics of poverty and disease. Matthew is also a co-founder and scientific director at Pivot, a health care delivery organization in Madagascar. He is currently on the faculty of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Matthew previously lived and worked with Partners In Health in Rwanda for five years. He did his postdoctoral at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

Show Notes

I first heard of Matthew’s work at the intersection of economics and infectious disease before COVID-19 arrived on the scene. But, to be honest, I really didn’t “get it.” I had trouble wrapping my head around just what it translated to in terms of real-life action. I’m confused no longer! The arrival of the novel coronavirus and the health and economic destruction it has inflicted makes the vital nature of Matthew’s work understandable at the most basic level. No matter how many news stories you’ve already read about COVID-19, you won’t want to miss this insightful conversation with Matthew.

Manisha’s Top Takeaways

  1. The reproductive number
    The number of new infections one infected individual can cause in a susceptible population. As of this taping, the number stands at two or three; with global travel, that easily translates into a global pandemic. What social distancing does is try to get that number down to one or below until a vaccine or other treatment is available.
  2. Global collaboration 
    At a time in which international tensions are rising, I found it heart-warming to hear about cross-border scientific collaboration and it’s after impact.
  3. Appreciation for science 
    The public at large now has an understanding of how science is a living discipline and is seeing that process working effectively.

Other Major Topics

  • A discussion of historical pandemics, as well as their similarities with and differences to COVID-19 [4:40]
  • The unprecedented scientific collaboration fighting this pandemic [10:00]
  • Two bright spots during these trying times [17:45]

Resources Cited in the Episode

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