He’d just been reading the news, like everyone else. He had no special access to any new disease outbreak, and no one would have expected him to intervene. All that Joe DeRisi had was his new lab at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and what seemed, to him, an almost magical new weapon for hunting viruses. Then Joe read about the outbreak in China. On February 10, 2003, the Beijing office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) received an email about a “strange contagious disease” in Guangdong province. The flu-like disease was killing at a rate that the flu never had.