Author of new ‘Virus Hunter’ suspense novel talks about his experiences fighting against COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan
Published: Jun 20, 2021 01:13 PM
The cover of the book Photo: Courtesy of the press

Cover of the book Photo: Courtesy of the press

An unknown virus spreads throughout a rural village in China and an island overseas thousands of kilometers away at the same time. How did people come to be infected with the virus? Why did the virus appear in two distant places and cause the deaths of two strangers? What was the secret that connected the two? 

The book Virus Hunter focuses on biomedicine and viruses, and combines science with suspense to tell a story about a researcher at Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention trying to contain the spread of an unknown virus that killed his friend.

Published by Huazhong University of Science & Technology Press in Wuhan in May, the book written by Su Jin, who works on prevention and control of infectious diseases and research, starts with the death of two people, He Qingde and Fu Lanxi.

He was a farmer living in a mountainous village in China while Fu was the son of a rich Chinese businessman and also friend to researcher Lu Jian, the lead character of the book.

Both died from the same virus despite being thousands of kilometers away from each other and having never met.

To figure out how his friend had been infected and to further learn more about the virus, Lu heads to the village only to discover that other villagers have been infected as well. He reports the outbreak to the government and more medical experts join him to research the virus.

The truth finally emerges that the local water supply is behind the outbreak and that the virus is connected to an overseas biomedical company, which played a big role in the incident.

Su told the Global Times that the story is based on concerns about bio-safety. 

"Whether or not these crises occur, we need to consider these dangers and develop defense strategies. And if there is a crisis, what we can do to keep risk to a minimum," Su told the Global Times.

Su lived through the COVID-19 epidemic in Wuhan when he went to the city in January 2020 to handle detection of the virus and research.

"At that time, we knew very little about the new coronavirus. Because we knew very little about it, we felt more pressure and fear. We were exposed to positive samples in the laboratory every day, constantly doing coronavirus nucleic acid tests, and when we finished work, we went back to our rooms and concerned about possible mistakes in biosafety protection." Su recalled.

Because of his real life experience in work, his book, which took more than two years to finished, can stand the test when it comes to professional detail and the depiction of real emotions. 

Su said that sometimes he needed to spend 10 hours pouring through related materials to depict the details in just a short 100 word paragraph. 

Nan Zhi, an worker on pathogenic microorganisms, recommended the novel as it presents the actual containment measures used when dealing with an epidemic in story form so readers can learn about the roles various organizations such as governmental, medical and public security institutions play in fighting an epidemic.

"If you're interested in a mystery novel about biological viruses, then this book is definitely worth a read. The information about the origins of infectious diseases is very