Netflix series shows how prepared (or not) we are in dealing with a pandemic
While coronavirus dominates news headlines, Netflix is streaming Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak. The six-part series doesn’t mention coronavirus, but it still has plenty of helpful information.
If you’ve already anxiety-watched Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion — the disease disaster movie about a viral outbreak that kills millions of people around the world that's on everyone’s lips right now — Netflix has the perfect thing to check out next. In January 2020, Netflix released Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak, a six-part docuseries about the spread of viral illness throughout history. While Pandemic on Netflix doesn’t explicitly mention coronavirus, the docuseries does put a face to the public health officials, doctors, and influenza experts on the frontlines of the coronavirus, or more correctly COVID-19, outbreak.
Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak attempts to explain, in layman’s terms, how viral outbreaks begin and rapidly spread around the globe. When the series was first released in January, coronavirus was just beginning to spread throughout China, and it had yet to reach other parts of the world. That has since changed — the global confirmed cases of COVID-19 are more than 400,000, with more than 18,000 people across the world killed by the novel coronavirus, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard — but for those who watched Pandemic on Netflix, that was likely to be expected.
The first episode of Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak introduces viewers to doctors in the US and in Asia, including India, who are working to find a universal cure for the flu. “Every once in a while there is a variant of flu that emerges that poses an existential threat to us as a species,” says Dr Dennis Carroll, director of the US Agency for International Development’s Emerging Threats Unit. At the time, he was speaking about the 1918 Spanish flu, which killed 50 to 100 million people. Now, nearly two months after Pandemic hit Netflix, it seems likely that Dr Carroll’s statement may also apply to COVID-19. According to the government, this strain of novel coronavirus has killed 10 people in India, and infected more than 500, as of the March 24, 2020 data, and that figure is likely to rise as it continues spreading around the globe.
Subsequent episodes of Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak focus on Ebola, the importance of developing vaccines, and the common flu. The final episode, which explains what can be done to combat the flu, could be most helpful to those looking to avoid the spread of coronavirus, as many of the methods sound familiar. You’ve already heard it all over the news, but remember to wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. As Netflix’s Pandemic makes clear, these little things really do make a difference when it comes to preventing outbreaks.
Pandemic is currently streaming on Netflix.