Seven months after emerging as a mysterious viral disease in China, Covid-19 continues to rage around the world, abating in some regions and gaining fury in others. As the global death toll approaches 600,000, calls for investigations and inquiries into the causes of the catastrophe — to learn lessons for future pandemics — are getting louder.

But authors are already publishing their own personal explorations of what went wrong and how to do better next time, which will provide fine primers for the official inquiries to come. Leading the way in the English-speaking world are books by Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet medical journal for 25 years, and Debora MacKenzie, who has covered infectious diseases for New Scientist magazine for 30 years.

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