Entrevistas

David Quammen: el hombre que escuchó llegar a la covid-19

Nueve años atrás, en su libro «Contagio: la evolución de las pandemias», David Quammen predijo con escalofriante precisión la catástrofe epidemiológica que vivimos hoy. Sin embargo, dice que no hizo más que escuchar a los científicos que sigue en sus trabajos de campo: el mismo método que utilizó para sus otros catorce libros y sus artículos para «National Geographic», «Esquire», «Rolling Stone» y «The New York Times». Conocido por desplazarse a los lugares más remotos —del Congo al Serengueti y al Ártico ruso, metiéndose en selvas, pantanos y desiertos—, de 2020 a ahora Quammen se ha convertido en uno de los periodistas científicos más requeridos del mundo. En este diálogo con LENGUA, habla del impacto del movimiento antivacunas, cuenta cómo adaptó su método de trabajo ahora que no puede viajar como lo hizo toda su vida y explica por qué cree que el coronavirus se quedará entre nosotros un largo tiempo.

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En esta entrevista, el periodista nos explica c\u00f3mo llegamos a esto y hacia d\u00f3nde vamos.","meta_keywords":"David Quammen Contagio Covid-19 Pandemias","short_content":"<p>Nueve a\u00f1os atr\u00e1s, en su libro \u00abContagio: la evoluci\u00f3n de las pandemias\u00bb, David Quammen predijo con escalofriante precisi\u00f3n la cat\u00e1strofe epidemiol\u00f3gica que vivimos hoy. Sin embargo, dice que no hizo m\u00e1s que escuchar a los cient\u00edficos que sigue en sus trabajos de campo: el mismo m\u00e9todo que utiliz\u00f3 para sus otros catorce libros y sus art\u00edculos para \u00abNational Geographic\u00bb, \u00abEsquire\u00bb, \u00abRolling Stone\u00bb y \u00abThe New York Times\u00bb. Conocido por desplazarse a los lugares m\u00e1s remotos \u2014del Congo al Serengueti y al \u00c1rtico ruso, meti\u00e9ndose en selvas, pantanos y desiertos\u2014, de 2020 a\u00a0ahora Quammen se ha convertido en uno de los periodistas cient\u00edficos m\u00e1s requeridos del mundo. 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style=\\\"text-decoration: underline;\\\"><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/104505-federico-kukso\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\">FEDERICO KUKSO<br \/><br \/><br \/><br 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un gur\u00fa? Naaah... Yo soy solo el mensajero.\u00bb\u00a0<\/strong><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/6607-david-quammen\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\"><span>David Quammen se r\u00ede<\/span>. <\/a>Y tambi\u00e9n se sonroja. Con humildad, oculta en ese gesto, detr\u00e1s de su poblado bigote blanco, d\u00e9cadas de experiencia como periodista cient\u00edfico que le permitieron en 2012 ver venir como pocos la pandemia con la que hoy convivimos. En los \u00faltimos cuarenta a\u00f1os, este escritor estadounidense\u00a0cuya\u00a0carrera arranc\u00f3 como autor de novelas de esp\u00edas fue abandonando paulatinamente las historias de intriga protagonizadas por agentes internacionales <strong>para adentrarse en otra clase de misterios: los de la vida en el planeta Tierra.\u00a0<\/strong><\/p><p>De risa contagiosa y escritura atrapante, Quammen lleva publicados quince libros \u2014entre ellos\u00a0<em><span style=\\\"text-decoration: underline;\\\"><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/ciencia-y-tecnologia\/18646-contagio\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\">Contagio: La evoluci\u00f3n de las pandemias<\/a><\/span>\u00a0<\/em>(originalmente publicado como<em> Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic<\/em>)\u2014 y cientos de reportajes en <em>National Geographic<\/em>,<em> Outside<\/em>,<em> Esquire<\/em>,<em> The Atlantic<\/em>,<em> Rolling Stone<\/em> y art\u00edculos de opini\u00f3n para <em>The New York 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hay algo a lo que no le teme este escritor es a ensuciarse las manos. Es conocido por desplazarse a los lugares m\u00e1s remotos del mundo para narrar los dramas de los protagonistas de sus historias: los cient\u00edficos. Desde el Congo hasta el Serengueti y de ah\u00ed al \u00c1rtico ruso, <strong>Quammen recorre selvas, pantanos, monta\u00f1as, sabanas y desiertos, donde ha seguido los rastros del origen de virus como el \u00e9bola y el VIH o pistas sobre la extinci\u00f3n de toda clase de especies animales,<\/strong> convirti\u00e9ndose en el camino en uno de los cronistas del mundo natural m\u00e1s importantes en la actualidad.<strong><span style=\\\"text-decoration: underline;\\\"><\/span><\/strong><\/p><p><strong><span style=\\\"text-decoration: underline;\\\"><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/104505-federico-kukso\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\">Federico Kukso<\/a><\/span>:\u00a0<\/strong><strong>Junto al historiador israel\u00ed <span style=\\\"text-decoration: underline;\\\"><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/historia\/19004-homo-deus\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\">Yuval Noah Harari<\/a><\/span>, usted ha sido uno de los autores m\u00e1s requeridos en lo que va de la pandemia de la covid-19. \u00bfLe molesta tanta solicitud de entrevista?<\/strong><\/p><p><strong><span style=\\\"text-decoration: underline;\\\"><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/6607-david-quammen\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\">David Quammen<\/a><\/span>:\u00a0<\/strong>No tanto. No soy ning\u00fan clarividente. Todo lo que cuento sobre nuevos virus, entre ellos el SARS-CoV-2, lo aprendo de los cient\u00edficos. Yo solo los sigo al campo, les hago preguntas, los escucho y cuento historias sobre ellos y su trabajo para una audiencia amplia, general. Es lo que hice, por ejemplo, en 2012, cuando publiqu\u00e9 mi libro <span style=\\\"text-decoration: underline;\\\"><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/ciencia-y-tecnologia\/18646-contagio\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\"><em>Contagio<\/em><\/a><\/span><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/ciencia-y-tecnologia\/18646-contagio\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\">,<\/a>\u00a0en el que predec\u00eda una pandemia provocada por un coronavirus y que podr\u00eda venir de los murci\u00e9lagos. Y ahora aqu\u00ed estamos. La gente me pregunta: \u00ab\u00bfC\u00f3mo lo supiste?\u00bb. Y yo respondo: \u00abPorque escucho a estos tipos\u00bb.<\/p><p><strong>Federico Kukso:\u00a0<\/strong><strong>\u00bfNo siente que la pandemia es un gran\u00a0\u00abse lo dije\u00bb?<\/strong><\/p><p><strong>David Quammen:\u00a0<\/strong>No necesito hacerlo. Habr\u00eda preferido 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Kukso:\u00a0<\/strong><strong>Durante varios meses al comienzo de la pandemia muchos periodistas e intelectuales insistieron en que se trataba de un\u00a0\u00abcisne negro\u00bb, es decir, un evento altamente improbable, de gran impacto y que nadie vio venir...<\/strong><\/p><p><strong>David Quammen:<\/strong> Yo les dir\u00eda a esas personas que se compren nuevos binoculares. Esta pandemia es un \u00abcisne blanco\u00bb y muchos lo vimos venir hace tiempo porque los cient\u00edficos que estudian enfermedades emergentes vienen advirtiendo sobre el tema. No es una sorpresa. Hace a\u00f1os que los cient\u00edficos dicen que la pr\u00f3xima gran pandemia ser\u00e1 de gripe o una causada por un nuevo coronavirus. Eso es lo que me explicaron hace diez a\u00f1os: se sabe que este tipo de virus pasan de animales a humanos, que evolucionan r\u00e1pidamente y que se pueden adaptar a nuevos anfitriones; en el pasado han causado pandemias o amenazas pand\u00e9micas, como la epidemia del s\u00edndrome respiratorio agudo grave de 2002-2003 causada por el coronavirus SARS-CoV-1 o la del s\u00edndrome respiratorio de Oriente Medio en 2013 provocada por el coronavirus MERS-CoV. As\u00ed que la pandemia actual era parte de un patr\u00f3n.\u00a0<\/p><p><strong>Federico Kukso:\u00a0<\/strong><strong>Adem\u00e1s, si uno ve la historia humana desde una perspectiva m\u00e1s amplia, las pandemias son una constante.<\/strong><\/p><p><strong>David Quammen:<\/strong> As\u00ed es. Los historiadores estiman que la pandemia de gripe de 1918 mat\u00f3 al menos a cincuenta millones de personas. Ha habido enfermedades que han\u00a0pasado\u00a0de animales salvajes a humanos probablemente desde que somos humanos. No tenemos evidencias de los primeros saltos de estos virus. Por ejemplo, el sarampi\u00f3n sigue matando gente. Tenemos vacunas contra este virus desde hace sesenta a\u00f1os y aun as\u00ed el sarampi\u00f3n sigue matando a personas que no se han vacunado porque nunca hemos podido erradicar el virus que la provoca. El sarampi\u00f3n es una enfermedad tan antigua que no hay m\u00e1s que una versi\u00f3n en animales salvajes. Pero todo viene de alguna parte: quiz\u00e1 provino del ganado bovino o del salvaje. Desde hace un tiempo el virus ha evolucionado y es un virus en humanos. Nunca hemos podido erradicar la enfermedad porque hay gobiernos y gente que se niega a ser vacunada y contin\u00faa siendo un problema.<\/p><p><strong>Federico Kukso:\u00a0<\/strong><strong>Hace unos a\u00f1os, usted dijo que una epidemia es b\u00e1sicamente una historia de misterio: tiene un adversario (un virus), un costado humano, un drama, una lucha... Desde un punto de vista narrativo, \u00bfes la pandemia la\u00a0\u00abhistoria perfecta\u00bb?\u00a0<\/strong><\/p><p><strong>David Quammen:<\/strong> En parte, s\u00ed. En verdad es una gran tragedia. No es tan divertida como una historia de misterio. En <span style=\\\"text-decoration: underline;\\\"><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/ciencia-y-tecnologia\/18646-contagio\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\"><em>Contagio<\/em><\/a><\/span>, la describo como una historia detectivesca. Por ejemplo, hay un nuevo virus en Malasia, nunca visto en humanos. Los cient\u00edficos van, encuentran el virus, lo secuencian y se preguntan de d\u00f3nde vino. Ah\u00ed hay un misterio. Es lo que sucede con el virus Nipah, que ya ha matado al menos a cien personas. Ahora tenemos esta pandemia. Y el gran misterio: \u00ab\u00bfDe d\u00f3nde provino?\u00bb. Es importante intentar resolverlo, pero quiz\u00e1 nunca conozcamos su origen. Y mientras, ha matado a m\u00e1s de tres millones de personas. Es m\u00e1s bien una gran historia de guerra.<\/p>\",\"section_style\":\"\",\"align\":\"\",\"align_tablet\":\"\",\"align_mobile\":\"\",\"text_color\":\"#1a1a1a\",\"typography_typography\":\"custom\",\"typography_font_size\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"18\"},\"typography_font_size_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_font_size_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_font_family\":\"custom\",\"typography_font_family_custom\":\"Fort-Book\",\"typography_font_weight\":\"\",\"typography_text_transform\":\"\",\"typography_font_style\":\"\",\"typography_line_height\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"27\"},\"typography_line_height_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"em\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_line_height_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"em\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_letter_spacing\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_letter_spacing_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_letter_spacing_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"_section_style\":\"\",\"_margin\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"0\",\"right\":\"0\",\"bottom\":\"58\",\"left\":\"0\",\"isLinked\":false},\"_margin_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_margin_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_padding\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_padding_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_padding_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_animation\":\"\",\"animation_duration\":\"\",\"_css_classes\":\"\",\"_section_background\":\"\",\"_background_background\":\"\",\"_background_color\":\"\",\"_background_image\":{\"url\":\"\",\"id\":\"\"},\"_background_position\":\"\",\"_background_attachment\":\"\",\"_background_repeat\":\"\",\"_background_size\":\"\",\"_background_video_link\":\"\",\"_background_video_fallback\":{\"url\":\"\",\"id\":\"\"},\"_border_border\":\"\",\"_border_width\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_border_color\":\"\",\"_border_radius\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_box_shadow_box_shadow_type\":\"\",\"_box_shadow_box_shadow\":{\"horizontal\":0,\"vertical\":0,\"blur\":10,\"spread\":0,\"inset\":\"\",\"color\":\"rgba(0,0,0,0.5)\"},\"_section_responsive\":\"\",\"responsive_description\":\"\",\"hide_desktop\":\"\",\"hide_tablet\":\"\",\"hide_mobile\":\"\"},\"defaultEditSettings\":[],\"widgetType\":\"text-editor\",\"editSettings\":{}},{\"id\":\"7tj2d0e\",\"elType\":\"widget\",\"isInner\":false,\"settings\":{\"section_editor\":\"\",\"editor\":\"<p>\u00abNo soy ning\u00fan clarividente. Todo lo que cuento sobre nuevos virus lo aprendo de los cient\u00edficos. Los sigo al campo, les pregunto, los escucho y cuento historias sobre ellos y su trabajo. Es lo que hice en 2012, cuando publiqu\u00e9 <span style=\\\"text-decoration: underline;\\\"><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/ciencia-y-tecnologia\/18646-contagio\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\"><em>Contagio<\/em><\/a><\/span>, en el que predec\u00eda una pandemia provocada por un coronavirus y que podr\u00eda venir de los murci\u00e9lagos. Y aqu\u00ed estamos. La gente me pregunta: \\\"\u00bfC\u00f3mo lo supiste?\\\". Y yo respondo: \\\"Porque escucho a estos tipos\\\".\u00bb\u00a0<\/p>\",\"section_style\":\"\",\"align\":\"\",\"align_tablet\":\"\",\"align_mobile\":\"\",\"text_color\":\"#000000\",\"typography_typography\":\"custom\",\"typography_font_size\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"40\"},\"typography_font_size_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_font_size_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"24\"},\"typography_font_family\":\"custom\",\"typography_font_family_custom\":\"Vollkorn\",\"typography_font_weight\":\"\",\"typography_text_transform\":\"\",\"typography_font_style\":\"\",\"typography_line_height\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"45\"},\"typography_line_height_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"em\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_line_height_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"30\"},\"typography_letter_spacing\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_letter_spacing_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_letter_spacing_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"_section_style\":\"\",\"_margin\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"0\",\"right\":\"95\",\"bottom\":\"58\",\"left\":\"95\",\"isLinked\":false},\"_margin_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"0\",\"right\":\"30\",\"bottom\":\"50\",\"left\":\"30\",\"isLinked\":false},\"_margin_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_padding\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_padding_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_padding_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_animation\":\"\",\"animation_duration\":\"\",\"_css_classes\":\"\",\"_section_background\":\"\",\"_background_background\":\"\",\"_background_color\":\"\",\"_background_image\":{\"url\":\"\",\"id\":\"\"},\"_background_position\":\"\",\"_background_attachment\":\"\",\"_background_repeat\":\"\",\"_background_size\":\"\",\"_background_video_link\":\"\",\"_background_video_fallback\":{\"url\":\"\",\"id\":\"\"},\"_border_border\":\"\",\"_border_width\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_border_color\":\"\",\"_border_radius\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_box_shadow_box_shadow_type\":\"\",\"_box_shadow_box_shadow\":{\"horizontal\":0,\"vertical\":0,\"blur\":10,\"spread\":0,\"inset\":\"\",\"color\":\"rgba(0,0,0,0.5)\"},\"_section_responsive\":\"\",\"responsive_description\":\"\",\"hide_desktop\":\"\",\"hide_tablet\":\"\",\"hide_mobile\":\"\"},\"defaultEditSettings\":[],\"widgetType\":\"text-editor\",\"editSettings\":{}},{\"id\":\"f6ixwx9\",\"elType\":\"widget\",\"isInner\":false,\"settings\":{\"section_editor\":\"\",\"editor\":\"<p><strong>De la selva al Zoom, del Zoom a la caverna<br \/>\u00a0<\/strong><\/p><p>Una de las caracter\u00edsticas que ha hecho de Quammen un autor cautivador es que, m\u00e1s all\u00e1 de escribir sobre virus, especies animales y enfermedades infecciosas en ensayos como <span style=\\\"text-decoration: underline;\\\"><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/ciencia-y-tecnologia\/18646-contagio\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\"><em>Contagio<\/em><\/a><\/span>\u00a0y <em>\u00c9bola: la historia de un virus mortal<\/em>, sus libros tienen siempre como epicentro historias humanas en medio de escenarios que parecen m\u00e1s aventuras que investigaciones cient\u00edficas.<\/p><p>Para <em>The Song of the Dodo<\/em> (La canci\u00f3n del Dodo), Quammen viaj\u00f3 junto a bi\u00f3logos durante ocho a\u00f1os y vio por s\u00ed mismo algunos de los animales en peligro de extinci\u00f3n del planeta: recorri\u00f3 Madagascar, las Gal\u00e1pagos, la selva de Brasil y Tasmania buscando serpientes, aves, reptiles. En Indonesia, sigui\u00f3 los pasos del naturalista brit\u00e1nico Alfred Russel Wallace, quien descubri\u00f3 la selecci\u00f3n natural al mismo tiempo que <span style=\\\"text-decoration: underline;\\\"><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/ciencia-y-tecnologia\/26056-el-origen-de-las-especies\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\">Darwin<\/a><\/span>. En el oeste de Uganda, fue testigo, junto al bi\u00f3logo Matt McLennan, de c\u00f3mo la tala de bosques ha impulsado a chimpanc\u00e9s desesperados y hambrientos a asaltar los campos cercanos al pueblo Kyamajaka, donde atacan a ni\u00f1os y aumentan las probabilidades de transmisi\u00f3n de alguna nueva enfermedad. Para comprender c\u00f3mo y por qu\u00e9 las enfermedades mortales \u00abse propagan\u00bb de los animales salvajes a los humanos para\u00a0<span style=\\\"text-decoration: underline;\\\"><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/ciencia-y-tecnologia\/18646-contagio\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\"><em>Contagio<\/em><\/a><\/span>, rastre\u00f3 los or\u00edgenes del \u00e9bola, el SARS, la influenza aviar, la enfermedad de Lyme, acompa\u00f1ando a vir\u00f3logos, antrop\u00f3logos m\u00e9dicos, veterinarios de vida silvestre e inmun\u00f3logos hasta las azoteas de Bangladesh, a un bosque en el Congo, una granja de ratas china y laboratorios de alta bioseguridad. Incluso sigui\u00f3 a intr\u00e9pidos investigadores mientras se arrastraban e introduc\u00edan en cuevas infestadas de pitones en Uganda para capturar murci\u00e9lagos y confirmar en ellos la presencia del virus de Marburgo.<\/p><p>Su pasi\u00f3n por los viajes, las aventuras, el drama y el suspenso de la b\u00fasqueda de estos virus asesinos quiz\u00e1 tenga sus ra\u00edces en su pasado (en su origen) como novelista de esp\u00edas, donde el equilibrio geopol\u00edtico o la paz mundial pende del hilo del destino de un hombre, un opaco agente an\u00f3nimo para el mundo. Su explicaci\u00f3n es simple: \u00abLas personas quieren leer sobre personas\u00bb. Dice: \u00abEn toda investigaci\u00f3n cient\u00edfica tienes un protagonista humano, un h\u00e9roe, un personaje que se mueve a trav\u00e9s de un paisaje de incertidumbres. Uno que sostiene una l\u00e1mpara o linterna buscando el camino en la oscuridad. En un momento, ese personaje se puede caer en un agujero. Puede ser gracioso o tr\u00e1gico, pero es interesante. Es una historia. <strong>Yo escribo sobre cient\u00edficos, las personas que hacen la ciencia. En vez de explicar teor\u00edas complicadas, cuento historias. La narraci\u00f3n hace que mis libros y art\u00edculos sean m\u00e1s amenos.<\/strong> Pero tambi\u00e9n ayuda a entender mejor qu\u00e9 es la ciencia: la ciencia no son los Diez Mandamientos, sino un proceso humano de descubrimiento y comprensi\u00f3n sobre c\u00f3mo funciona nuestro mundo a trav\u00e9s del m\u00e9todo cient\u00edfico. La ciencia es recopilar informaci\u00f3n a trav\u00e9s de la observaci\u00f3n y experimentaci\u00f3n; formular hip\u00f3tesis; contrastarlas con nueva informaci\u00f3n. Pero tambi\u00e9n es equivocarse, competir con otros, ser ambicioso, avergonzarse...\u00bb.<\/p><p><strong>Federico Kukso:\u00a0<\/strong><strong>En un art\u00edculo publicado en <em>The New York Times<\/em> en enero de 2020, antes de que la covid-19 recibiera su nombre, dijo:\u00a0\u00abLos brotes de nuevas enfermedades virales son como las bolas de acero en una m\u00e1quina de <em>pinball:<\/em> puedes golpearlas con tus aletas y mover la m\u00e1quina sobre sus patas, pero d\u00f3nde terminan cayendo depende de once niveles de probabilidad. Esto es cierto con los coronavirus en particular: mutan a menudo mientras se replican y pueden evolucionar r\u00e1pidamente\u00bb. Respecto a esto, \u00bfcu\u00e1n importante cree que son las analog\u00edas a la hora de comunicar ciencia?<\/strong><\/p><p><strong>David Quammen:<\/strong> Son fundamentales para comunicar hechos cient\u00edficos, pero tambi\u00e9n nos ayudan a pensar. Una analog\u00eda exitosa es aquella que se recuerda. La propia idea de <em>spillover\u00a0<\/em>(derrame) de virus de animales a seres humanos es una met\u00e1fora. A veces le digo a la gente: \u00abLos virus no escalan en nosotros. Se derraman en nosotros\u00bb. No corren, no caminan, no nadan, no vuelan. Los virus cabalgan. Son pasivos pero oportunistas. Se aprovechan de nuestro organismo para replicarse. La met\u00e1fora del derrame es una met\u00e1fora muy valiosa. Yo no la invent\u00e9, pero cuando estaba investigando para el libro me cruc\u00e9 con ella y dije: \u00ab\u00a1Aj\u00e1! Esta es la palabra\u00bb.\u00a0<\/p><p><strong>Federico Kukso:\u00a0<\/strong><strong>Usted no es lo que se dice un periodista\u00a0\u00abde escritorio\u00bb: no solo habla con los cient\u00edficos, sino que prefiere hacerlo en el terreno, que muchas veces es un lugar ex\u00f3tico o inc\u00f3modo. \u00bfQu\u00e9 perspectiva le aporta el\u00a0\u00abestar ah\u00ed\u00bb?<\/strong><\/p><p><strong>David Quammen:<\/strong> Me da el proceso de una investigaci\u00f3n, as\u00ed como los resultados. A veces el proceso es aburrido, a veces es dram\u00e1tico. La ciencia precisa de mucha paciencia. Un cient\u00edfico se puede pasar un a\u00f1o en una carpa sucia en una selva en Madagascar estudiando el comportamiento de los l\u00e9mures. Puede ser inc\u00f3modo. Pero eso es parte de la historia. Por eso me gusta ir al terreno. No voy todo un a\u00f1o, pero quiz\u00e1 s\u00ed dos semanas para apreciar por lo que atraviesa un cient\u00edfico. Eso s\u00ed: llevo siempre mi propia carpa.<\/p><p><strong>Federico Kukso:\u00a0<\/strong><strong>Y en esta \u00e9poca sin viajar \u00bfc\u00f3mo se las ha arreglado?<\/strong><\/p><p><strong>David Quammen:<\/strong> Es complicado. El primer principio en mi carrera siempre ha sido \u00abviaja, ve ah\u00ed donde est\u00e1 la historia\u00bb. \u00ab\u00bfTe interesa el demonio de Tasmania? Viaja a donde los cient\u00edficos estudian los demonios de Tasmania\u00bb. Ahora no puedo hacerlo. Hace m\u00e1s de un a\u00f1o que no me subo a un avi\u00f3n. No he salido del estado de Montana, en Estados Unidos, donde vivo, desde hace m\u00e1s de un a\u00f1o.\u00a0<\/p><p><strong>Federico Kukso:\u00a0<\/strong><strong>\u00bfY eso ha afectado a su trabajo?<\/strong><\/p><p><strong>David Quammen:<\/strong> Por supuesto. Me oblig\u00f3 a trabajar de una nueva manera. Para historias que escrib\u00ed para <em>The New York Times<\/em> y <em>The New Yorker<\/em> hice, como todos, entrevistas por Zoom. Y tambi\u00e9n volv\u00ed a mis cuadernos de campo de hace diez a\u00f1os, cuando en Camer\u00fan vi un pangol\u00edn. Ahora estoy escribiendo sobre la covid-19. S\u00e9 que va a haber cientos de libros sobre el tema. El desaf\u00edo es c\u00f3mo escribir uno distinto, valioso, a mi manera. No puedo viajar a China en este momento. Ni meterme en una cueva de murci\u00e9lagos. As\u00ed que me estoy adaptando. Hago entrevistas por Zoom a cient\u00edficos. Les pregunto por su trabajo y su vida durante la pandemia. Tambi\u00e9n les pregunto sobre el origen del virus. Espero ir a Tailandia pronto para pasar d\u00edas con bi\u00f3logos que estudian murci\u00e9lagos. Espero poder entrar al pa\u00eds.\u00a0<\/p><p><strong>Federico Kukso:\u00a0<\/strong><strong>\u00bfLe encontr\u00f3 alg\u00fan beneficio a esta nueva modalidad de trabajo?<\/strong><\/p><p><strong>David Quammen:<\/strong> Algo. Hay cierta privacidad y contacto cercano en una entrevista por Zoom. Es mucho mejor que una entrevista por tel\u00e9fono. Y en cierta manera es mejor que visitar a una persona en su oficina: puede entrar en la cueva de un investigador, en su casa, en su espacio privado.\u00a0<\/p><p><strong>Federico Kukso:\u00a0<\/strong><strong>Como ahora. Puedo ver su oficina con estantes colmados de libros, carpetas prolijamente ordenadas, un gran archivero gris, una monta\u00f1a de revistas <em>National Geographic<\/em>, un sill\u00f3n, anotadores en el escritorio, un par de anteojos...<\/strong><\/p><p><strong>David Quammen:<\/strong> S\u00ed, a veces le pido a mis entrevistados que tomen la computadora y recorran su oficina para ver c\u00f3mo es, qu\u00e9 hay en las paredes. Pero lo que m\u00e1s me gusta\u00a0de\u00a0hacer entrevistas por Zoom es que ahonda en la privacidad, en cierto aspecto construye cierta intimidad. Eso hace que \u00e9l o ella me diga algo que quiz\u00e1 no me\u00a0habr\u00eda dicho si\u00a0la cita hubiera sido con su 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gobierno de Trump no tom\u00f3 las amenazas pand\u00e9micas con seriedad al desfinanciar las redes mundiales de vigilancia viral. Creo que con el gobierno de Biden se le va a dar m\u00e1s importancia. Estados Unidos ya ha vuelto a la Organizaci\u00f3n Mundial de la Salud. Esto no significa que no\u00a0pueda haber\u00a0otra pandemia, pero hace decrecer las probabilidades y nos permite reaccionar m\u00e1s r\u00e1pido para contener un brote antes de que se convierta en epidemia y en pandemia.\u00bb\u00a0<\/p>\",\"section_style\":\"\",\"align\":\"\",\"align_tablet\":\"\",\"align_mobile\":\"\",\"text_color\":\"#000000\",\"typography_typography\":\"custom\",\"typography_font_size\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"40\"},\"typography_font_size_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_font_size_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"24\"},\"typography_font_family\":\"custom\",\"typography_font_family_custom\":\"Vollkorn\",\"typography_font_weight\":\"\",\"typography_text_transform\":\"\",\"typography_font_style\":\"\",\"typography_line_height\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"45\"},\"typography_line_height_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"em\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_line_height_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"30\"},\"typography_letter_spacing\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_letter_spacing_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_letter_spacing_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"_section_style\":\"\",\"_margin\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"0\",\"right\":\"95\",\"bottom\":\"58\",\"left\":\"95\",\"isLinked\":false},\"_margin_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"0\",\"right\":\"30\",\"bottom\":\"50\",\"left\":\"30\",\"isLinked\":false},\"_margin_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_padding\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_padding_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_padding_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_animation\":\"\",\"animation_duration\":\"\",\"_css_classes\":\"\",\"_section_background\":\"\",\"_background_background\":\"\",\"_background_color\":\"\",\"_background_image\":{\"url\":\"\",\"id\":\"\"},\"_background_position\":\"\",\"_background_attachment\":\"\",\"_background_repeat\":\"\",\"_background_size\":\"\",\"_background_video_link\":\"\",\"_background_video_fallback\":{\"url\":\"\",\"id\":\"\"},\"_border_border\":\"\",\"_border_width\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_border_color\":\"\",\"_border_radius\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_box_shadow_box_shadow_type\":\"\",\"_box_shadow_box_shadow\":{\"horizontal\":0,\"vertical\":0,\"blur\":10,\"spread\":0,\"inset\":\"\",\"color\":\"rgba(0,0,0,0.5)\"},\"_section_responsive\":\"\",\"responsive_description\":\"\",\"hide_desktop\":\"\",\"hide_tablet\":\"\",\"hide_mobile\":\"\"},\"defaultEditSettings\":[],\"widgetType\":\"text-editor\",\"editSettings\":{}},{\"id\":\"a60abj7\",\"elType\":\"widget\",\"isInner\":false,\"settings\":{\"section_editor\":\"\",\"editor\":\"<p><strong>El \u00e9xito de un virus<br \/><br \/><\/strong><\/p><p>Volviendo a la covid-19, en un art\u00edculo en <em>National Geographic<\/em> publicado en febrero de 2021, Quammen recuerda c\u00f3mo los virus dan forma a nuestro mundo: si bien tienen un gran poder destructivo, la vida tal como la conocemos no podr\u00eda ser como es sin ellos. <strong>Resulta que los virus han desempe\u00f1ado un papel crucial en el desencadenamiento de importantes transiciones evolutivas en los organismos del planeta.<\/strong> Se cree que hace ciento cincuenta millones de a\u00f1os, los virus infectaron a mam\u00edferos y dejaron genes que llevaron a un avance evolutivo crucial: la placenta, que permite que los nutrientes y el ox\u00edgeno lleguen al feto. Quammen lleva treinta a\u00f1os contando sus historias.<\/p><p><strong>Federico Kukso:\u00a0<\/strong><strong>\u00bfQu\u00e9 es lo que le fascina tanto de estos par\u00e1sitos?<\/strong><\/p><p><strong>David Quammen:<\/strong> Para empezar, que los virus no son inherentemente malos. Los virus no tienen malicia contra nosotros. No tienen prop\u00f3sitos. Siguen los mismos imperativos darwinianos simples que las ratas o cualquier otra criatura impulsada por un genoma: extenderse tanto como sea posible en abundancia, en el espacio geogr\u00e1fico y en el tiempo. Intentan ganar el juego darwiniano. Desde el punto de vista de un virus, la carrera del SARS-CoV-2 hasta ahora es una gran historia de \u00e9xito. Ha infectado a m\u00e1s de 142 millones de personas en el mundo. Este coronavirus ha hecho un gran cambio en su carrera evolutiva, extendi\u00e9ndose desde su reservorio en animales a los humanos. Ya ha logrado dos de los tres imperativos darwinianos: replicarse lo m\u00e1s posible y expandir su rango geogr\u00e1fico. Solo queda como desaf\u00edo el tercer imperativo: perpetuarse en el tiempo, sobrevivir, continuar replic\u00e1ndose, evitar la extinci\u00f3n. El virus est\u00e1 comandado a cumplir con estos mandatos. Y hay muchas probabilidades de que triunfe con el tercero. Este virus no se va a ir nunca. Probablemente, circular\u00e1 entre las poblaciones para 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que ser\u00e1 dif\u00edcil encontrar el origen exacto o el paciente cero de la covid-19. Muchos cient\u00edficos creen que provino de murci\u00e9lagos en el sur de China. Pero no sabemos qui\u00e9n fue el primer humano infectado, ni cu\u00e1ndo ni c\u00f3mo sucedi\u00f3. Quiz\u00e1 ni siquiera ocurri\u00f3 en la ciudad de Wuhan. Es importante intentar saberlo. Pero quiz\u00e1 nunca lo sepamos.\u00bb\u00a0<\/p>\",\"section_style\":\"\",\"align\":\"\",\"align_tablet\":\"\",\"align_mobile\":\"\",\"text_color\":\"#000000\",\"typography_typography\":\"custom\",\"typography_font_size\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"40\"},\"typography_font_size_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_font_size_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"24\"},\"typography_font_family\":\"custom\",\"typography_font_family_custom\":\"Vollkorn\",\"typography_font_weight\":\"\",\"typography_text_transform\":\"\",\"typography_font_style\":\"\",\"typography_line_height\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"45\"},\"typography_line_height_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"em\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_line_height_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"30\"},\"typography_letter_spacing\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_letter_spacing_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_letter_spacing_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"_section_style\":\"\",\"_margin\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"0\",\"right\":\"95\",\"bottom\":\"58\",\"left\":\"95\",\"isLinked\":false},\"_margin_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"0\",\"right\":\"30\",\"bottom\":\"50\",\"left\":\"30\",\"isLinked\":false},\"_margin_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_padding\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_padding_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_padding_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_animation\":\"\",\"animation_duration\":\"\",\"_css_classes\":\"\",\"_section_background\":\"\",\"_background_background\":\"\",\"_background_color\":\"\",\"_background_image\":{\"url\":\"\",\"id\":\"\"},\"_background_position\":\"\",\"_background_attachment\":\"\",\"_background_repeat\":\"\",\"_background_size\":\"\",\"_background_video_link\":\"\",\"_background_video_fallback\":{\"url\":\"\",\"id\":\"\"},\"_border_border\":\"\",\"_border_width\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_border_color\":\"\",\"_border_radius\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_box_shadow_box_shadow_type\":\"\",\"_box_shadow_box_shadow\":{\"horizontal\":0,\"vertical\":0,\"blur\":10,\"spread\":0,\"inset\":\"\",\"color\":\"rgba(0,0,0,0.5)\"},\"_section_responsive\":\"\",\"responsive_description\":\"\",\"hide_desktop\":\"\",\"hide_tablet\":\"\",\"hide_mobile\":\"\"},\"defaultEditSettings\":[],\"widgetType\":\"text-editor\",\"editSettings\":{}},{\"id\":\"u8nsq6o\",\"elType\":\"widget\",\"isInner\":false,\"settings\":{\"section_editor\":\"\",\"editor\":\"<p><strong>Quiero creer<br \/><br \/><\/strong><\/p><p><strong>Federico Kukso:\u00a0<\/strong><strong>Sin viajes y con Zoom, \u00bfc\u00f3mo es un d\u00eda de trabajo?<\/strong><\/p><p><strong>David Quammen:<\/strong> Hago mucha investigaci\u00f3n, leo muchos <em>papers.<\/em> Tengo muchas carpetas y cuadernos. Entrevisto a cient\u00edficos y las transcribo. Espero hasta que siento que las oraciones van tomando forma en mi cabeza y empiezo a escribir. Me preocupo mucho por la estructura, pero me gusta que sea org\u00e1nico, que haya sorpresas, que dos cosas que parec\u00edan no estar conectadas de repente se conecten para el lector. Me siento con una taza de caf\u00e9 junto a la computadora y escribo. Para un art\u00edculo, usualmente s\u00e9 que hay cuatro o cinco cosas que quiero incluir en una historia, pero no hago un boceto. Busco la manera en que una cosa lleve a la otra. Me gusta acompa\u00f1ar al lector. No imagino un libro como escalar una monta\u00f1a, sino m\u00e1s bien como recorrer un laberinto.<\/p><p><strong>Federico Kukso:\u00a0<\/strong><strong>\u00bfQu\u00e9 tipo de libros le gusta leer?<\/strong><\/p><p><strong>David Quammen:<\/strong> Antes le\u00eda solo novelas. Quiz\u00e1 porque comenc\u00e9 mi carrera como novelista. No le\u00eda muchos libros de no ficci\u00f3n. Luego empec\u00e9 a leer ensayos y me di cuenta de que es un g\u00e9nero que puede ser ingenioso e imaginativo. Tambi\u00e9n leo mucho sobre historia, historia de la ciencia y biograf\u00edas. Suelo leer por las tardes. Leo como un caracol. Muy lentamente. Ahora estoy leyendo un libro llamado <em>The Hitler Conspiracies: The Third Reich and the Paranoid Imagination<\/em>, del historiador brit\u00e1nico Richard J. Evans. Es sobre pensamiento conspirativo, gente que quiere creer en conspiraciones que tienen alguna conexi\u00f3n con Hitler. Es un tema muy actual porque hoy en d\u00eda hay personas que en plena pandemia consumen y se dejan enga\u00f1ar por muchas fabulaciones conspiranoicas sobre la fabricaci\u00f3n del virus en un laboratorio. Es muy interesante: el autor explora c\u00f3mo esas historias toman forma y por qu\u00e9 hay gente que quiere creer en ellas. Para m\u00ed, es una lectura muy entretenida.\u00a0<\/p><p><strong>Federico Kukso:\u00a0<\/strong><strong>\u00bfYa lo han vacunado contra el coronavirus?<\/strong><\/p><p><strong>David Quammen:<\/strong> S\u00ed. Ya recib\u00ed dos dosis de la vacuna de Pfizer\/BioNTech. Tengo setenta y tres a\u00f1os. Pero, como dijo alguien, creo que en Twitter: \u00abNo es cuesti\u00f3n de si yo ya recib\u00ed mi vacuna. Es cuesti\u00f3n de saber si ya la hemos recibido todos\u00bb.<\/p><p><\/p><p><br \/><br \/><\/p><p><strong>OTROS CONTENIDOS DE INTER\u00c9S:<\/strong><\/p><ul><li><span style=\\\"text-decoration-line: underline;\\\"><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/lengua\/entrevistas\/entrevista-Cesar-Aira-Alan-Pauls\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\">C\u00e9sar Aira: condenado a vivir ah\u00ed<\/a><\/span><\/li><li><span style=\\\"text-decoration-line: underline;\\\"><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/lengua\/articulos\/emilia-pardo-bazan\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\">Emilia Pardo Baz\u00e1n regresa del olvido<\/a><\/span><\/li><li><span style=\\\"text-decoration-line: underline;\\\"><a href=\\\"https:\/\/www.penguinlibros.com\/es\/lengua\/articulos\/Posy-Simmonds-Tamara-Drewe\\\" target=\\\"_blank\\\">Posy Simmonds o por qu\u00e9 dibujar los cl\u00e1sicos<\/a><\/span><\/li><\/ul>\",\"section_style\":\"\",\"align\":\"\",\"align_tablet\":\"\",\"align_mobile\":\"\",\"text_color\":\"#1a1a1a\",\"typography_typography\":\"custom\",\"typography_font_size\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"18\"},\"typography_font_size_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_font_size_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_font_family\":\"custom\",\"typography_font_family_custom\":\"Fort-Book\",\"typography_font_weight\":\"\",\"typography_text_transform\":\"\",\"typography_font_style\":\"\",\"typography_line_height\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"27\"},\"typography_line_height_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"em\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_line_height_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"em\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_letter_spacing\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_letter_spacing_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"typography_letter_spacing_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"_section_style\":\"\",\"_margin\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"14\",\"right\":\"0\",\"bottom\":\"44\",\"left\":\"0\",\"isLinked\":false},\"_margin_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_margin_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_padding\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_padding_tablet\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_padding_mobile\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_animation\":\"\",\"animation_duration\":\"\",\"_css_classes\":\"\",\"_section_background\":\"\",\"_background_background\":\"\",\"_background_color\":\"\",\"_background_image\":{\"url\":\"\",\"id\":\"\"},\"_background_position\":\"\",\"_background_attachment\":\"\",\"_background_repeat\":\"\",\"_background_size\":\"\",\"_background_video_link\":\"\",\"_background_video_fallback\":{\"url\":\"\",\"id\":\"\"},\"_border_border\":\"\",\"_border_width\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_border_color\":\"\",\"_border_radius\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"top\":\"\",\"right\":\"\",\"bottom\":\"\",\"left\":\"\",\"isLinked\":true},\"_box_shadow_box_shadow_type\":\"\",\"_box_shadow_box_shadow\":{\"horizontal\":0,\"vertical\":0,\"blur\":10,\"spread\":0,\"inset\":\"\",\"color\":\"rgba(0,0,0,0.5)\"},\"_section_responsive\":\"\",\"responsive_description\":\"\",\"hide_desktop\":\"\",\"hide_tablet\":\"\",\"hide_mobile\":\"\"},\"defaultEditSettings\":[],\"widgetType\":\"text-editor\",\"editSettings\":{}}],\"editSettings\":{}}],\"editSettings\":{}},{\"id\":\"hkr54au\",\"elType\":\"section\",\"isInner\":false,\"settings\":{\"section_layout\":\"\",\"stretch_section\":\"section-stretched\",\"layout\":\"full_width\",\"content_width\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":\"\"},\"gap\":\"default\",\"height\":\"default\",\"custom_height\":{\"unit\":\"px\",\"size\":400},\"column_position\":\"middle\",\"content_position\":\"\",\"structure\":\"10\",\"section_background\":\"\",\"background_background\":\"\",\"background_color\":\"\",\"background_color_stop\":{\"unit\":\"%\",\"size\":0},\"background_color_b\":\"\",\"background_color_b_stop\":{\"unit\":\"%\",\"size\":100},\"background_gradient_type\":\"linear\",\"background_gradient_angle\":{\"unit\":\"deg\",\"size\":180},\"background_gradient_position\":\"center 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10 minutos

Fotomontaje de Max Rompo.

«¿Yo, un gurú? Naaah... Yo soy solo el mensajero.» David Quammen se ríe. Y también se sonroja. Con humildad, oculta en ese gesto, detrás de su poblado bigote blanco, décadas de experiencia como periodista científico que le permitieron en 2012 ver venir como pocos la pandemia con la que hoy convivimos. En los últimos cuarenta años, este escritor estadounidense cuya carrera arrancó como autor de novelas de espías fue abandonando paulatinamente las historias de intriga protagonizadas por agentes internacionales para adentrarse en otra clase de misterios: los de la vida en el planeta Tierra. 

De risa contagiosa y escritura atrapante, Quammen lleva publicados quince libros —entre ellos Contagio: La evolución de las pandemias (originalmente publicado como Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic)— y cientos de reportajes en National Geographic, Outside, Esquire, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone y artículos de opinión para The New York Times.

Si hay algo a lo que no le teme este escritor es a ensuciarse las manos. Es conocido por desplazarse a los lugares más remotos del mundo para narrar los dramas de los protagonistas de sus historias: los científicos. Desde el Congo hasta el Serengueti y de ahí al Ártico ruso, Quammen recorre selvas, pantanos, montañas, sabanas y desiertos, donde ha seguido los rastros del origen de virus como el ébola y el VIH o pistas sobre la extinción de toda clase de especies animales, convirtiéndose en el camino en uno de los cronistas del mundo natural más importantes en la actualidad.

Federico KuksoJunto al historiador israelí Yuval Noah Harari, usted ha sido uno de los autores más requeridos en lo que va de la pandemia de la covid-19. ¿Le molesta tanta solicitud de entrevista?

David QuammenNo tanto. No soy ningún clarividente. Todo lo que cuento sobre nuevos virus, entre ellos el SARS-CoV-2, lo aprendo de los científicos. Yo solo los sigo al campo, les hago preguntas, los escucho y cuento historias sobre ellos y su trabajo para una audiencia amplia, general. Es lo que hice, por ejemplo, en 2012, cuando publiqué mi libro Contagio, en el que predecía una pandemia provocada por un coronavirus y que podría venir de los murciélagos. Y ahora aquí estamos. La gente me pregunta: «¿Cómo lo supiste?». Y yo respondo: «Porque escucho a estos tipos».

Federico Kukso: ¿No siente que la pandemia es un gran «se lo dije»?

David Quammen: No necesito hacerlo. Habría preferido equivocarme. 

La pandemia... en 2012

Federico Kukso: Durante varios meses al comienzo de la pandemia muchos periodistas e intelectuales insistieron en que se trataba de un «cisne negro», es decir, un evento altamente improbable, de gran impacto y que nadie vio venir...

David Quammen: Yo les diría a esas personas que se compren nuevos binoculares. Esta pandemia es un «cisne blanco» y muchos lo vimos venir hace tiempo porque los científicos que estudian enfermedades emergentes vienen advirtiendo sobre el tema. No es una sorpresa. Hace años que los científicos dicen que la próxima gran pandemia será de gripe o una causada por un nuevo coronavirus. Eso es lo que me explicaron hace diez años: se sabe que este tipo de virus pasan de animales a humanos, que evolucionan rápidamente y que se pueden adaptar a nuevos anfitriones; en el pasado han causado pandemias o amenazas pandémicas, como la epidemia del síndrome respiratorio agudo grave de 2002-2003 causada por el coronavirus SARS-CoV-1 o la del síndrome respiratorio de Oriente Medio en 2013 provocada por el coronavirus MERS-CoV. Así que la pandemia actual era parte de un patrón. 

Federico Kukso: Además, si uno ve la historia humana desde una perspectiva más amplia, las pandemias son una constante.

David Quammen: Así es. Los historiadores estiman que la pandemia de gripe de 1918 mató al menos a cincuenta millones de personas. Ha habido enfermedades que han pasado de animales salvajes a humanos probablemente desde que somos humanos. No tenemos evidencias de los primeros saltos de estos virus. Por ejemplo, el sarampión sigue matando gente. Tenemos vacunas contra este virus desde hace sesenta años y aun así el sarampión sigue matando a personas que no se han vacunado porque nunca hemos podido erradicar el virus que la provoca. El sarampión es una enfermedad tan antigua que no hay más que una versión en animales salvajes. Pero todo viene de alguna parte: quizá provino del ganado bovino o del salvaje. Desde hace un tiempo el virus ha evolucionado y es un virus en humanos. Nunca hemos podido erradicar la enfermedad porque hay gobiernos y gente que se niega a ser vacunada y continúa siendo un problema.

Federico Kukso: Hace unos años, usted dijo que una epidemia es básicamente una historia de misterio: tiene un adversario (un virus), un costado humano, un drama, una lucha... Desde un punto de vista narrativo, ¿es la pandemia la «historia perfecta»? 

David Quammen: En parte, sí. En verdad es una gran tragedia. No es tan divertida como una historia de misterio. En Contagio, la describo como una historia detectivesca. Por ejemplo, hay un nuevo virus en Malasia, nunca visto en humanos. Los científicos van, encuentran el virus, lo secuencian y se preguntan de dónde vino. Ahí hay un misterio. Es lo que sucede con el virus Nipah, que ya ha matado al menos a cien personas. Ahora tenemos esta pandemia. Y el gran misterio: «¿De dónde provino?». Es importante intentar resolverlo, pero quizá nunca conozcamos su origen. Y mientras, ha matado a más de tres millones de personas. Es más bien una gran historia de guerra.

«No soy ningún clarividente. Todo lo que cuento sobre nuevos virus lo aprendo de los científicos. Los sigo al campo, les pregunto, los escucho y cuento historias sobre ellos y su trabajo. Es lo que hice en 2012, cuando publiqué Contagio, en el que predecía una pandemia provocada por un coronavirus y que podría venir de los murciélagos. Y aquí estamos. La gente me pregunta: "¿Cómo lo supiste?". Y yo respondo: "Porque escucho a estos tipos".» 

De la selva al Zoom, del Zoom a la caverna
 

Una de las características que ha hecho de Quammen un autor cautivador es que, más allá de escribir sobre virus, especies animales y enfermedades infecciosas en ensayos como Contagio y Ébola: la historia de un virus mortal, sus libros tienen siempre como epicentro historias humanas en medio de escenarios que parecen más aventuras que investigaciones científicas.

Para The Song of the Dodo (La canción del Dodo), Quammen viajó junto a biólogos durante ocho años y vio por sí mismo algunos de los animales en peligro de extinción del planeta: recorrió Madagascar, las Galápagos, la selva de Brasil y Tasmania buscando serpientes, aves, reptiles. En Indonesia, siguió los pasos del naturalista británico Alfred Russel Wallace, quien descubrió la selección natural al mismo tiempo que Darwin. En el oeste de Uganda, fue testigo, junto al biólogo Matt McLennan, de cómo la tala de bosques ha impulsado a chimpancés desesperados y hambrientos a asaltar los campos cercanos al pueblo Kyamajaka, donde atacan a niños y aumentan las probabilidades de transmisión de alguna nueva enfermedad. Para comprender cómo y por qué las enfermedades mortales «se propagan» de los animales salvajes a los humanos para Contagio, rastreó los orígenes del ébola, el SARS, la influenza aviar, la enfermedad de Lyme, acompañando a virólogos, antropólogos médicos, veterinarios de vida silvestre e inmunólogos hasta las azoteas de Bangladesh, a un bosque en el Congo, una granja de ratas china y laboratorios de alta bioseguridad. Incluso siguió a intrépidos investigadores mientras se arrastraban e introducían en cuevas infestadas de pitones en Uganda para capturar murciélagos y confirmar en ellos la presencia del virus de Marburgo.

Su pasión por los viajes, las aventuras, el drama y el suspenso de la búsqueda de estos virus asesinos quizá tenga sus raíces en su pasado (en su origen) como novelista de espías, donde el equilibrio geopolítico o la paz mundial pende del hilo del destino de un hombre, un opaco agente anónimo para el mundo. Su explicación es simple: «Las personas quieren leer sobre personas». Dice: «En toda investigación científica tienes un protagonista humano, un héroe, un personaje que se mueve a través de un paisaje de incertidumbres. Uno que sostiene una lámpara o linterna buscando el camino en la oscuridad. En un momento, ese personaje se puede caer en un agujero. Puede ser gracioso o trágico, pero es interesante. Es una historia. Yo escribo sobre científicos, las personas que hacen la ciencia. En vez de explicar teorías complicadas, cuento historias. La narración hace que mis libros y artículos sean más amenos. Pero también ayuda a entender mejor qué es la ciencia: la ciencia no son los Diez Mandamientos, sino un proceso humano de descubrimiento y comprensión sobre cómo funciona nuestro mundo a través del método científico. La ciencia es recopilar información a través de la observación y experimentación; formular hipótesis; contrastarlas con nueva información. Pero también es equivocarse, competir con otros, ser ambicioso, avergonzarse...».

Federico Kukso: En un artículo publicado en The New York Times en enero de 2020, antes de que la covid-19 recibiera su nombre, dijo: «Los brotes de nuevas enfermedades virales son como las bolas de acero en una máquina de pinball: puedes golpearlas con tus aletas y mover la máquina sobre sus patas, pero dónde terminan cayendo depende de once niveles de probabilidad. Esto es cierto con los coronavirus en particular: mutan a menudo mientras se replican y pueden evolucionar rápidamente». Respecto a esto, ¿cuán importante cree que son las analogías a la hora de comunicar ciencia?

David Quammen: Son fundamentales para comunicar hechos científicos, pero también nos ayudan a pensar. Una analogía exitosa es aquella que se recuerda. La propia idea de spillover (derrame) de virus de animales a seres humanos es una metáfora. A veces le digo a la gente: «Los virus no escalan en nosotros. Se derraman en nosotros». No corren, no caminan, no nadan, no vuelan. Los virus cabalgan. Son pasivos pero oportunistas. Se aprovechan de nuestro organismo para replicarse. La metáfora del derrame es una metáfora muy valiosa. Yo no la inventé, pero cuando estaba investigando para el libro me crucé con ella y dije: «¡Ajá! Esta es la palabra». 

Federico Kukso: Usted no es lo que se dice un periodista «de escritorio»: no solo habla con los científicos, sino que prefiere hacerlo en el terreno, que muchas veces es un lugar exótico o incómodo. ¿Qué perspectiva le aporta el «estar ahí»?

David Quammen: Me da el proceso de una investigación, así como los resultados. A veces el proceso es aburrido, a veces es dramático. La ciencia precisa de mucha paciencia. Un científico se puede pasar un año en una carpa sucia en una selva en Madagascar estudiando el comportamiento de los lémures. Puede ser incómodo. Pero eso es parte de la historia. Por eso me gusta ir al terreno. No voy todo un año, pero quizá sí dos semanas para apreciar por lo que atraviesa un científico. Eso sí: llevo siempre mi propia carpa.

Federico Kukso: Y en esta época sin viajar ¿cómo se las ha arreglado?

David Quammen: Es complicado. El primer principio en mi carrera siempre ha sido «viaja, ve ahí donde está la historia». «¿Te interesa el demonio de Tasmania? Viaja a donde los científicos estudian los demonios de Tasmania». Ahora no puedo hacerlo. Hace más de un año que no me subo a un avión. No he salido del estado de Montana, en Estados Unidos, donde vivo, desde hace más de un año. 

Federico Kukso: ¿Y eso ha afectado a su trabajo?

David Quammen: Por supuesto. Me obligó a trabajar de una nueva manera. Para historias que escribí para The New York Times y The New Yorker hice, como todos, entrevistas por Zoom. Y también volví a mis cuadernos de campo de hace diez años, cuando en Camerún vi un pangolín. Ahora estoy escribiendo sobre la covid-19. Sé que va a haber cientos de libros sobre el tema. El desafío es cómo escribir uno distinto, valioso, a mi manera. No puedo viajar a China en este momento. Ni meterme en una cueva de murciélagos. Así que me estoy adaptando. Hago entrevistas por Zoom a científicos. Les pregunto por su trabajo y su vida durante la pandemia. También les pregunto sobre el origen del virus. Espero ir a Tailandia pronto para pasar días con biólogos que estudian murciélagos. Espero poder entrar al país. 

Federico Kukso: ¿Le encontró algún beneficio a esta nueva modalidad de trabajo?

David Quammen: Algo. Hay cierta privacidad y contacto cercano en una entrevista por Zoom. Es mucho mejor que una entrevista por teléfono. Y en cierta manera es mejor que visitar a una persona en su oficina: puede entrar en la cueva de un investigador, en su casa, en su espacio privado. 

Federico Kukso: Como ahora. Puedo ver su oficina con estantes colmados de libros, carpetas prolijamente ordenadas, un gran archivero gris, una montaña de revistas National Geographic, un sillón, anotadores en el escritorio, un par de anteojos...

David Quammen: Sí, a veces le pido a mis entrevistados que tomen la computadora y recorran su oficina para ver cómo es, qué hay en las paredes. Pero lo que más me gusta de hacer entrevistas por Zoom es que ahonda en la privacidad, en cierto aspecto construye cierta intimidad. Eso hace que él o ella me diga algo que quizá no me habría dicho si la cita hubiera sido con su secretaria.

«El gobierno de Trump no tomó las amenazas pandémicas con seriedad al desfinanciar las redes mundiales de vigilancia viral. Creo que con el gobierno de Biden se le va a dar más importancia. Estados Unidos ya ha vuelto a la Organización Mundial de la Salud. Esto no significa que no pueda haber otra pandemia, pero hace decrecer las probabilidades y nos permite reaccionar más rápido para contener un brote antes de que se convierta en epidemia y en pandemia.» 

El éxito de un virus

Volviendo a la covid-19, en un artículo en National Geographic publicado en febrero de 2021, Quammen recuerda cómo los virus dan forma a nuestro mundo: si bien tienen un gran poder destructivo, la vida tal como la conocemos no podría ser como es sin ellos. Resulta que los virus han desempeñado un papel crucial en el desencadenamiento de importantes transiciones evolutivas en los organismos del planeta. Se cree que hace ciento cincuenta millones de años, los virus infectaron a mamíferos y dejaron genes que llevaron a un avance evolutivo crucial: la placenta, que permite que los nutrientes y el oxígeno lleguen al feto. Quammen lleva treinta años contando sus historias.

Federico Kukso: ¿Qué es lo que le fascina tanto de estos parásitos?

David Quammen: Para empezar, que los virus no son inherentemente malos. Los virus no tienen malicia contra nosotros. No tienen propósitos. Siguen los mismos imperativos darwinianos simples que las ratas o cualquier otra criatura impulsada por un genoma: extenderse tanto como sea posible en abundancia, en el espacio geográfico y en el tiempo. Intentan ganar el juego darwiniano. Desde el punto de vista de un virus, la carrera del SARS-CoV-2 hasta ahora es una gran historia de éxito. Ha infectado a más de 142 millones de personas en el mundo. Este coronavirus ha hecho un gran cambio en su carrera evolutiva, extendiéndose desde su reservorio en animales a los humanos. Ya ha logrado dos de los tres imperativos darwinianos: replicarse lo más posible y expandir su rango geográfico. Solo queda como desafío el tercer imperativo: perpetuarse en el tiempo, sobrevivir, continuar replicándose, evitar la extinción. El virus está comandado a cumplir con estos mandatos. Y hay muchas probabilidades de que triunfe con el tercero. Este virus no se va a ir nunca. Probablemente, circulará entre las poblaciones para siempre.

«Creo que será difícil encontrar el origen exacto o el paciente cero de la covid-19. Muchos científicos creen que provino de murciélagos en el sur de China. Pero no sabemos quién fue el primer humano infectado, ni cuándo ni cómo sucedió. Quizá ni siquiera ocurrió en la ciudad de Wuhan. Es importante intentar saberlo. Pero quizá nunca lo sepamos.» 

Quiero creer

Federico Kukso: Sin viajes y con Zoom, ¿cómo es un día de trabajo?

David Quammen: Hago mucha investigación, leo muchos papers. Tengo muchas carpetas y cuadernos. Entrevisto a científicos y las transcribo. Espero hasta que siento que las oraciones van tomando forma en mi cabeza y empiezo a escribir. Me preocupo mucho por la estructura, pero me gusta que sea orgánico, que haya sorpresas, que dos cosas que parecían no estar conectadas de repente se conecten para el lector. Me siento con una taza de café junto a la computadora y escribo. Para un artículo, usualmente sé que hay cuatro o cinco cosas que quiero incluir en una historia, pero no hago un boceto. Busco la manera en que una cosa lleve a la otra. Me gusta acompañar al lector. No imagino un libro como escalar una montaña, sino más bien como recorrer un laberinto.

Federico Kukso: ¿Qué tipo de libros le gusta leer?

David Quammen: Antes leía solo novelas. Quizá porque comencé mi carrera como novelista. No leía muchos libros de no ficción. Luego empecé a leer ensayos y me di cuenta de que es un género que puede ser ingenioso e imaginativo. También leo mucho sobre historia, historia de la ciencia y biografías. Suelo leer por las tardes. Leo como un caracol. Muy lentamente. Ahora estoy leyendo un libro llamado The Hitler Conspiracies: The Third Reich and the Paranoid Imagination, del historiador británico Richard J. Evans. Es sobre pensamiento conspirativo, gente que quiere creer en conspiraciones que tienen alguna conexión con Hitler. Es un tema muy actual porque hoy en día hay personas que en plena pandemia consumen y se dejan engañar por muchas fabulaciones conspiranoicas sobre la fabricación del virus en un laboratorio. Es muy interesante: el autor explora cómo esas historias toman forma y por qué hay gente que quiere creer en ellas. Para mí, es una lectura muy entretenida. 

Federico Kukso: ¿Ya lo han vacunado contra el coronavirus?

David Quammen: Sí. Ya recibí dos dosis de la vacuna de Pfizer/BioNTech. Tengo setenta y tres años. Pero, como dijo alguien, creo que en Twitter: «No es cuestión de si yo ya recibí mi vacuna. Es cuestión de saber si ya la hemos recibido todos».



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