In the second week of February, Kobinger traveled to Geneva for a scientific meeting at the WHO that was attended by experts from around the world. The Asian scientists were all extremely nervous, Kobinger recalled, mentioning that a South Korean scientist he knew was shaky.

“I’ve never seen him like this, and I’ve known him for 15 years,” he said, without naming the scientist.

But a number of the Europeans at the meeting expressed the belief the virus would not come to Europe in a big way, noting they’d been testing and not finding anything at that point.

“In Europe, they … are convinced it’s going to die off, that it won’t come to Europe,” Kobinger said after the meeting. Looking back on it recently, he said: “I could not understand that rationale of saying ‘It’s not going to come here.’”