Coronavirus is literally and figuratively the hot new thing on everyone’s lips. The COVID-19 virus has rapidly spread around the world, leaving a trail of bodies and social chaos in its wake. With yesterday alone seeing the World Health Organization declaring this an official pandemic, Tom Hanks revealing he’s infected and the President announcing a ban on air travel from Europe, most people are finally realizing that Coronavirus is not “just the flu.”
As such, pandemic and virus-related media has seen an uptick in popularity. Killer virus films Contagion and Outbreak have had their streaming figures rocket and now, Netflix is reporting that their documentary series Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak is snowballing in popularity. The six-part series premiered on the service this January and explores what would happen in the event of a future flu pandemic. And frankly, it’s pretty frightening.
Rather ominously, the show argues that the US is currently in a perfect storm situation, with a health care system that financially discourages people from visiting doctors, no statutory sick pay, budget cuts to government bodies who’re supposed to keep a lid on this and a cultural ecosystem in which wackadoo elements like anti-vaxxers are given airtime by mass media in the name of balance. As such, the show claims that “a future flu pandemic would likely kill hundreds of millions of people.”
The argument has seen the series dismissed as “fear porn,” but honestly, its claims now seem pretty much in-line with the worst-case projections for Coronavirus.
However, while millions could die, this could be a bonanza year for Netflix. After all, with official medical advice being to self-isolate if you begin to show symptoms, what else is there to do than hole up on the sofa and binge your way through a couple of prestige series?