Peter Piot, tall, with grey stubble and a determined gait, sticks out his hand. A microbiologist and one of the world’s most famous “virus hunters” — we later decide “virus detective” is more apt — he evidently deems it safe to shake hands at this moment of coronavirus panic.

At 71, Piot is a rock-star virologist, the Mick Jagger of microbes. The man who helped discover Ebola when he was 27 and who led the fight against HIV-Aids is a legend in global health. Charming, rebellious and with little patience for protocol or authority, he has spent a lifetime battling bureaucracy as well as disease...

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