Real-Life Health Risks Of Outbreak Portrayed In The Movie 'Contagion'

Two opinion pieces published Monday examine the real-life health risks of an outbreak portrayed in “Contagion,” a movie that opened this weekend in which a mysterious airborne virus kills thousands of people.

  • Atlantic: “An Epidemiologist on ‘Contagion’: This Will Almost Certainly Occur”: “Despite [a few] disappointments, ‘Contagion’ hits much more often than it misses,” Larry Madoff, director of the Division of Epidemiology and Immunization at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, writes in this opinion piece in the Atlantic, adding, “The science is uncannily true, with rare exceptions. An epidemic like the one described in the film will almost certainly occur, though we can’t predict the details” (9/12).
  • Forbes: “Why One Great Vaccine Researcher Wasn’t Afraid Of Bird Flu”: “The movie has me thinking about the constant tap dance that infectious disease experts must do to get attention for their field — scaring the public one moment, calming it the next — because of the gigantic market failure in our health care system that keeps us from constantly preparing for an infectious disease outbreak,” Matthew Herper, a Forbes staff writer, writes in this opinion piece, adding, “We do have to keep in mind the worst-case scenario that ‘Contagion’ represents. But we can be prepared for it,” a process that “requires slowly, methodically, and constantly putting resources into our health infrastructure, something that our current health care market fails to do” (9/12).