I recently rewatched the 1994 disaster film Outbreak, because 1. I always loved that movie, 2. kind of dig diseases (I like science, okay?), and 3. there’s a real global pandemic happening right now.
You’ve probably heard about that.
Also, 4. I needed to get Peetimes for Outbreak, because I’m not the only person currently watching or rewatching that film, and some people like to use RunPee with old movies. It’s up on Netflix now if you’re interested; you can even host a Netflix Watch Party. That is, if you and your Netflix friends have a strong stomach.
I say that because while it’s not a horror movie, it’s a bit scary right now in the massive wake of CoVid-19. Keep in mind the virus in Outbreak is a Marburg variant they call Motaba, which is like Ebola. It kills you by replicating until it “explodes” your cells — all your cells — and in essence (as the movie eloquently puts it), liquefying your organs. While Outbreak uses mostly discretionary shots to show the virus’ effects, it’s still as nasty as it sounds.
Motaba also has a 100% death rate, is airborne, and moves extremely quickly through the human population.
To be clear, the novel Coronavirus we’re experiencing is nothing like Motaba, except in the both-being-a-virus sense. CoVid-19 has a low kill rate (between 1-3%), is NOT airborne (it spreads via droplet dispersal, which is very different), and while also highly contagious, moves slowly through populations (with a 2 week latency period).
This is both good for us…and less good.
The good news about CoVid-19 vs Outbreak’s Motaba Virus
- CoVid-19 has far less deaths (by percentage), and actual patient recovery is possible, frequently with no medical intervention needed.
- The novel coronavirus doesn’t kill you directly — complications from respiratory distress and organ failure kill you (small consolation it seems, but still very fortunate in that we can, with enough respirators, save most badly ill patients).
- The real virus is not airborne! (Want to know the difference between airborne transmission and droplet dispersal? Droplets fall to the ground quite quickly after someone sneezes or coughs. In a true airborne situation, the virus attaches to dust and pollen, and stays floating in the air, virulent as long as it can survive outside of a host. This is exponentially, nightmarishly worse than our situation.)
- Nobody will be bleeding from their eyes.
- The government won’t firebomb your town to contain CoVid-19.
- Outbreak is a work of fiction.
The bad news about CoVid-19 vs the Outbreak virus
- Since Motaba works so quickly, it’s a lot easier to trace from patient to patient. With CoVid-19, you can infect a lot of people in the 14 days the illness takes to present symptoms. This is why it’s such a nightmare for the world to flatten the curve.
- Since Motaba kills so quickly, so completely (100% death rate, remember?), it’s a lot easier to contain. Essentially, this (fake) virus kills itself, by destroying every human host within three days. CoVid-19 doesn’t kill itself off, making it a virus with longevity. CoVid-19 might be with us for years — or forever. It might become as ubiquitous as the flu (which is itself part of a suite of coronaviruses).
- The CoVid-19 disease is pandemic (as in world-wide), instead of a outbreak (limited to a hot zone) or an epidemic (limited to one geographical area or country).
- CoVid-19 is real.
Also, the Outbreak virus originated in Africa via monkeys. Our new virus is more like a scenario from the 2011 flick Contagion, using a bat-based vector — both originating from China. In both reality and Outbreak, illegal smuggling of animals was involved (that monkey in Outbreak; a poached pangolin in China). And in case you’re wondering, in Contagion no illegal activity was involved, but someone didn’t wash their hands after handling raw meat. This is never a good idea.
Now, go wash your hands again.
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Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)