Tom Whipple

The Times

We are not in a pandemic world any more, but when it comes to the life sciences its shadow remains - for ill but also, surprisingly, sometimes for good. The first article is about a trial I'm surprised hasn't had more attention; it will almost certainly end up as the biggest in the world. During covid, we collected health data and genomics data en masse. Now there is a plan to do so again, in a trial involving millions of people, in an attempt to see if we can all live more healthy lives, longer. It's a big, bold and ambitious scheme.

One article touches on this trial again, but in a different context. We have seen during the pandemic how fragile our health system can be. We know the pressures on it will only increase. Yet we cannot staff the jobs we have. Could AI help fill the gap? Certainly healthcare is where we are already seeing its effects - getting a sense of where it will make things cheaper, easier and better. Amid AI pessimism this article is a reminder of why we are developing the technology at all. Used correctly it can prevent disease, spot disease and then treat disease.

Another article is about covid itself. What do we now know, what can we learn? And will we be better prepared for a new virus or, as the inquiry continues, will we simply argue about how to use hindsight to perfectly, and pointlessly, retrofit our response to the last one?