As more and more people around the world are forced to remain in self-isolation and quarantine due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, there has been a noticeable surge in interest in pandemic films. There have been a few good films on this subject in recent years, such as Epidemic and a new take on zombie films, 28 Days Later, but it seems that few films are able to capture the attention of the public as much as a film that predicted the 2011 coronavirus “Contagion”. At the time of this writing, the film is #2 on the iTunes rental charts, surpassed only by Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. These are very good results for a film that was released almost ten years ago.
According to many people, the film “Contagion”, the events of which describe a viral outbreak, has a lot in common with what is happening today. Instead of making a moving film with a lot of special effects, screenwriter Scott Burns wanted to create a realistic film based on the experiences of real people who have dealt with pandemics. To do this, Burns interviewed epidemiologists, virologists, and other experts in an attempt to create a fictional plague that would be as realistic as possible. Looking at the picture, we can safely say that he did an awfully good job.
Given how true-to-life the events in the movie are, most are wondering how people are dealing with this fictional virus outbreak around the world. So let’s see how the 2011 Contagion movie starts and ends.
How does an epidemic start in Contagion?
Infection begins on the second day of a global pandemic caused by a fictional viral infection that was eventually named MEV-1. The film begins when Minneapolis business executive Beth Emhoff travels to Hong Kong and Macau for work and becomes infected with a new virus before returning to the US. After Beth dies of the disease and her son dies a few days later, there are already dozens of other infected people around the world. By the time scientists finally understand what is going on in the world, this whole situation is already out of control.
The film “Contagion” is mainly about doctors and scientists working on a cure and containing a viral outbreak. Drs. Ellis Cheever and Ellie Hextall of the Centers for Disease Control are trying to reduce the spread of MEV-1 in the US and are working to develop a vaccine, while Dr. Leonora Orantes of the World Health Organization travels to Hong Kong to track down the origin of the virus and learn how it was able to spread from Southeast Asia and infect the whole world.
How long did it take scientists to develop a vaccine?
After tracking Beth Emhoff’s movements during her trip to Asia, Dr. Orantes was able to determine on day 14 of the pandemic that Beth was patient zero in the US outbreak. However, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the novel nature of the virus has made it difficult to study.
By day 21, Dr. Heckstall finds evidence that the virus is mutating and becoming even more deadly. Riots over medicines, looted grocery stores, and empty, trash-filled streets have become the norm. Finally, on day 29, she cracks the code of the virus and develops a working vaccine. To speed up the availability of his new vaccine, Dr. Heckstall performs the first test by injecting it into his leg and then goes to visit his MEV-1-infected father in the hospital to test the effectiveness of his vaccine.
Revelation in the last minutes of “Contagion”
With a vaccine developed, the MEV-1 virus outbreak begins to subside at day 135. Dr. Cheever proclaims Dr. Hextall a hero, but she denies all her credit. Instead, we see Dr. Hextall depositing a sample of his vaccine along with vaccines for SARS (Acute Respiratory Viral Infections caused by a strain of coronavirus) and H1N1 (a subtype of influenza A virus, also known as “swine flu”). She looks back at her work with a satisfied smile and realizes that her work has helped save the lives of millions of people.
In the film’s final scene, we see a flashback that solves the mystery of the origin of the virus. Earlier in the film, Dr. Hextall noted that the MEV-1 virus contained strains of bat and pig DNA, and in a flashback, we see a colony of bats being knocked out of a tree by a bulldozer from the very company that Beth Emhoff worked for. While flying, one of the bats drops a piece of banana that has come into contact with the virus at a nearby pig farm. The pig eats a piece of banana and is then sold and slaughtered. Later, we see a pig being cooked in the kitchen of a fancy casino in Macau. After handling the infected animal, the chef retires from his job. He comes out of the kitchen and poses for a photo, shaking hands with Beth. That’s how we know it was the first day.