The world is currently shutting down as populations across the globe seek shelter from the coronavirus. In my time in self-quarantine, I stumbled upon a show that is painfully punctual with its release (and it helps that it’s showing up in everyone’s feed as a popular pick). Netflix’s Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak, which released earlier this year, may just be the perfect watch while we are all locked away in our homes for the next few weeks (or months, who knows?).
The show takes its audience to countries across the world to show how different cultures are trying to fight, prevent, and contain viruses. Watching this show while living through a pandemic is an eerie experience, but it also reinforces the precautionary measures that led me to stay at home in the first place. There are plenty of red flags staked along the way in each, episode which almost predict what we are going though today — and will continue to go through as the coronavirus crisis continues.
In this series ,there are too many similarities to what we are seeing today to be overlooked. You get to see doctors testing bats for diseases (where have we seen this one before?), doctors trying to get hospitals and medical facilities ready for severe outbreaks, and how negative reception of information can sway an entire population. It seems inevitable that viruses spread from animals, but I guarantee the first time you see people catching and swabbing bats in this show you will have a light bulb go off in your head.
When you see that people in the Democratic Republic of Congo fear the World Health Organization because of rumors that the WHO brought Ebola into their country, you might scratch your head (yes, other countries are prone to misinformation, too). When you watch a doctor trying to persuade state representatives to provide funding for pandemic training and preparation, it will all come together. Throughout the show there are morsels of information that ring true to the pandemic we are seeing now. This makes this show both interesting and horrifying to watch. Yet, either way, it’s hard to look away.
A fascinating portion of this show was covering the topic of a different kind of virus: that of misinformation. This part of the show centers around a vote for a major bill in Oregon, which would require certain immunization shots for children to attend public schools in Oregon. The show does a very good job of following the story of both a mother and her children who are against vaccines, as well as a doctor trying to get this bill passed.
I find this interesting because misinformation was also very prevalent during the initial cases of COVID-19. There are definitely cases of people who have been vaccinated and seen adverse side effects, but even as the show illustrates, these are very few and far between. Now, an entire group of people in Oregon choose not to prevent illnesses that were almost extinct. How crazy to think that people are literally moving backwards. After all, remember that the coronavirus crisis is due to the mere lack of a single vaccine — out of dozens we currently possess.
Avoiding these vaccines not only puts others at risk but gives viruses a chance to mutate and spread. After all, the coronavirus is a prime example of this, and we’ve yet to see how much this virus can adapt and survive. Sadly, though, misinformation ca be spread and be just as deadly as a novel virus, even one as dangerous as COVID-19.
<i>Pandemic</i> goes on to show a medical startup company in California whose mission is to end the flu in humans forever. This might be the noblest pursuit I have seen a start up try to obtain (and one we could sure use right now), and they want to offer their vaccine to the world once complete. They go as far as to mention that they would provide this to the developing world at no cost in an attempt to save lives, which is evidence no major corporate owns them (yet). I can’t see any company offering such a deal when there is money to be made so these people are truly the medical company we need in this world.
We follow this company’s test trials in pigs from just an idea all the way up to their test results, and the journey is one of the most thought-provoking real-world implications in the show — even as we endure an awful pandemic currently. Can you imagine instead of getting a flu shot every year for whatever strain of flu virus we are anticipating in a given year, to just receive one flu shot for life?
Now can you imagine a whole group of people avoiding this wonder-vaccine because they want control over their own bodies? We live in a strange world, and it’s only getting stranger.
This not only is a show about viruses and pandemics but it’s also a show about humans. All of the people shown in this series we get to know on a personal level. We see how they deal with the struggles of the medical industry, which obviously takes a toll. These are parents, sons, daughters, and people of well-respected communities doing what they can to save humanity from microscopic death.
It’s humbling to see the amount of effort these people are putting in for such a noble cause. With diseases accounting for more deaths in humans than all wars combined, it makes me question why these issues and causes aren’t at the top of every country’s priority list.
Maybe with the current coronavirus situation, we will finally find common ground (something we so desperately need) in a fight for a vaccine. Ultimately, <i>Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak</i> was even deeper and more resonant than I expected, and that’s saying a lot considering I watched it from the safety of my couch during the worst pandemic in a century.
Featured Image: Netflix