Of Contagion: Movie VS Reality


Warning: This post contains content which may cause anxiety about the coronavirus pandemic.

Contagion is a 2011 thriller film directed by Steven Soderbergh with an ensemble cast that includes  Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet

WarnerBros.com | Contagion | Movies

Contagion is a movie about a fatal, highly infectious respiratory disease, which starts with a coughing patient zero who has just returned from a trip to China, setting off a deadly outbreak. Officials try to contain the disease which turns into a pandemic as they race to come up with a vaccine…

Contagion is currently a top movie on Netflix, iTunes and on HBO Now its been on the most viewed lists and is a top download on pirate movie sites.

In the past four month Contagion has suddenly gained popularity as people watch it wondering if this movie was a premonition of things to come or a random story arc which has uncannily come true.

Contagion Poster on Behance | Poster, Minimal movie posters

The director and screenwriter were “inspired” by outbreaks such as the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak and the 2009 flu pandemic. They consulted with medical experts and representatives from the World Health Organisation and also had consultation with Laurie Garret author of 1994 book The Coming Plague.

The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance

Scott Z. Burns who wrote the movie says while discussing with epidemiologist Larry Brilliant on the possibility of a disaster movie following such a premise was a scientific probability had been told:

“Well, it’s not even a question of if there will be another pandemic; it’s just simply a question of when.”

Spoiler Alerts from this point forth

Here be interesting real life parallels

  • The virus starts spreading with someone returning from China

Hong Kong to be precise it might not be Wuhan but still China is where it COVID-19 appears to have started

  • Virus Origin

The fictional “MEV-1” virus originated from a pig that ate a piece of banana dropped by an infected bat. Although the origin of COVID-19 is still unknown, bats are suspected by some epidemiologists to be the carrier.

  • Similar Symptoms

In the movie people experienced fevers, profuse sweating, headaches, sore throat and cough then had seizures, dizziness and frothed at the mouth.

Covid-19 symptoms include fever, coughing and trouble breathing.

  • Transmission

In Contagion the virus spread via droplets in saliva when someone sneezed or coughed and on surfaces that have been contaminated infecting a person via the eyes, nose or mouth.

dont talk to anyone dont touch anyone Contagion
  • Management

There’s lockdown and quarantine, schools are closed down; people are told to avoid touching their faces, to maintain social distancing and To Wash hands

  • Conspiracy theorists

A blogger in the movie sensing that there’s a cover up going on starts an expose on how authorities are trying to keep things under wraps and how one of the CDC officials contacts his fiancé to warn her to leave the city. There’s also a brief look at how the virus could be a bio weapon, like someone weaponising bird flu…

Jude Law, as conspiracy theorist Alan Krumwiede, in a protective suit sticking a flyer under a car windshield wiper in the movie Contagion.

There’s talks of possible cures, there’s fake news and misinformation and the blogger with his huge following threatens to tell people not to take the vaccine and “expose” it as scam to enrich big pharmaceuticals….

Meanwhile in the real world; have seen our fair share of fake news, cover-ups and conspiracies ranging from that Coronavirus symptoms are caused by 5G network and that the vaccine is a ruse to implant microchips into people; to that its biological warfare… There’s been an outbreak of misinformation, potential cures and treatments some simple homeopathic remedies while others are drugs for something else.

Contagion: What can we learn from movies about killer viruses

Not everything is similar there’s some differences:

  • The MEV-1 virus in the movie is deadlier with a mortality rate of 25% to 30% while CDC places COVID mortality about 1.8% to 3.4%.
  • There’s no recovery from the MEV-1 in Contagion each infection resulting in death, in cases of COVID-19 WHO has the recovery rate pegged at 80% recover without needing specialized medical intervention.
  • MEV-1 is more contagious than COVID-19 with an Rnought of 4 meaning than one person can infect four people. COVID-19’s Rnought is 2.2 i.e one person infects about 2.2 people
  • The responses by world governments was decisive and competent while in reality most had taken a complacent approach until the numbers of infections and deaths started reaching alarming proportions
  • There’s a  case of immunity to the MEV-1 but as for coronavirus there’s no confirmed cases of immunity

If there’s any lessons to take away from the movie its that the pandemic wont last forever, and as the cast of the movie recently shared,

Coronavirus: Contagion cast share Covid-19 advice - BBC News

Wash your hands, your life depends on it… and soon(hopefully) the outside will be allowed and we can touch and hug again



    1. I would not be surprised to learn that some of these things happen when they tinker around with these pathogens in their super labs…
      While reading up on this movie and the corona virus I found how they are still not sure where our virus came from, there’s a group of epidemiologists who think a weak strain of the virus had already been in humans prior to the outbreak and then for some reason it mutated into the more deadly strain that we have now….
      But of course it all sounds like unverifiable conspiracies…


  1. I always tell people fiction is very much connected to reality, meanwhile this movie may win an award now

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was just in conversation with an author about her book asking on why she picked to have it as a work of fiction instead of non-fiction… And her response was that is not too far from reality and you can share some real truths masquerading as make believe

      While researching on this post i read reviews from 10 years ago on how this movie had gotten acclaim for realistic portrayal of scientific principles and a writer consulted on the script had commented that “Contagion”as “part fantasy, part reality and totally possible.”

      Well flashforward to a decade later… And it is happening almost in the exact same way they “predicted”


      Liked by 1 person

      1. People take things like star wars for granted but what makes them interesting is because the science is possible and researched and for a fictional movie to be adopted for big awards there must be vast amounts of reality to the fiction

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I watched Contagion last Sunday and yo my mind starting running wild with ideas. For a second I had myself asking was this movie a foretell of what we are currently experiencing. The shocker was discovering it was acted about 9years ago. It was creepy watching it but thanks for highlighting the differences because they are sanity restoring. And mahn MEV-1 was so deadly all that blood oozing from the mouth. It had me thanking God that COVID 19 doesn’t have that symptom because the way our blood banks still need blood. Thanks for this detailed review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Watching that movie seems like a replay into what’s been happening in the past few months of the coronavirus thing and watching had me wondering if the guys who made this movie knew something
      Glad I could restore a bit of sanity in this difficult times we are in… Especially that our virus hasn’t been as deadly.. So i think we will pull through
      Stay safe

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The World Health Organization first said the virus doesn’t spread from person to person. Clearly as way to cover up.
    I still refuse to watch Contagion. But thanks for the review Sekuru B.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. wait whaaaat…. but first clearly there’s cover ups going on and as long as there’s no full disclosure someone will fill in the gaps with all sorts of possibilities….
      Why do you refuse to watch Contagion
      and finally somebody’s been learning hahahaha

      Liked by 1 person

  4. its too close to reality, . i saw them opening that lady’s head and i said yaaa this is it, let me look for something else to watch. informative read so no more watching at all

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you approach it methodically, its an interesting watch and might even help you better deal with some of the things happening…
      when you watch it, do come back with feedback ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This movie made me paranoid. I remember watching it on a Saturday night and going to church following morning. I left my seat after an old man next to me coughed a few times. I stood by the door until the service was over

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A little bit of paranoia might be a good thing.

      What country are you in by the way, and arent you on a lockdown yet, most church services have now become an online affair and no one goes to church and we are two weeks into a 21 day lockdown

      But in a way watching the movie gave me a some understanding of whats going on right now.


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