Sketching COVID: Notes from the Coronavirus Multispecies Reading Group

On a wintry evening last year, I took the Tube and the Overground to watch a talk about "Hope After the Anthropocene" in south-east London. (What a different time that was - I haven't ridden in a bus, train or car for months!) I'm glad I did, because I met Dr. Eben Kirksey, a Marshall Scholarship alumnus with a curiosity about viruses, CRISPR, and all things multispecies.

When COVID-19 broke out, Eben invited me to attend the Coronavirus Multispecies Reading Group, a weekly online discussion orbiting widely around the central object of SARS-CoV-2.

Here are a few sketch notes I've made of the group's conversations. You can find recordings of all the discussions here if you're curious to hear more. (Click on an image to magnify it.)

November 30, 2020: One Health with Jakob Zinsstag

February 15, 2021: Rethinking the nature of viruses with Roberta Raffaeta and Soraya de Chadarevian

February 22, 2021: The Pandemic Century with Mark Honigsbaum

March 1, 2021: A genealogy of coronavirus sequencing with Alexander Gorbalenya

And this sketch is not from Coronavirus Multispecies Reading Group, but from a talk Eben gave about his new book, The Mutant Project.

A year ago, I never would have guessed how much practice I'd get drawing RNA viruses in watercolor and pencil. How would you sketch COVID? A virion? A Zoom screen? Dreams of vaccines? Grab a pen, give it a try :)