Magazine
Latest Issue

Michael Lewis in his book and bike-lined study. Photo: New York Times / Redux / eyevine

Michael Lewis on how to spot a crisis coming

Michael Lewis has spent decades chronicling the life of US institutions. He tells Jay Elwes why the US’s shocking failures on Covid-19 could have been avoided

By Jay Elwes   July 2021

In the teeth of the US pandemic, a biochemist named Joe DeRisi set up a Covid testing unit called Biohub. The aim was to provide testing kits to local health officers. Biohub would process the completed tests and inform the health officers of the results. But there was a hitch. Most local health authorities could not receive Covid test results electronically. The information needed to be sent by fax. And some of the local authorities had fax machines so old that they couldn’t handle more than six pages at a time. Some didn’t work at all. That meant that in the year 2020, Biohub—as well as providing Covid testing kits—also started buying and delivering fax machines.

This is just one of many startling anecdotes in Michael Lewis’s new book The Premonition. Lewis has been chronicling the life of US institutions for decades. His 1989 debut, Liar’s Poker, was…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect