Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Films on pandemics

The most notorious recent film was aired on ABC Tues. May 9, 2006. It was Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America (ABC/Disney/Touchstone, dir. David Pearce). The film presented a businessman returning from the Far East as an “index case.” The avian flu virus mutates into a form easily transmitted among humans, and this person is presented as that specific carrier. It probably would happen that suddenly with one person. A total social breakdown with martial law ensues within the United States, as the virus circles the world in waves. At the end, a second mutation originates in Angola and appears to be almost 100% fatal. Readers should know that many authorities question whether an avian flu epidemic could spread this quickly.

One preventive measure that could be used would be to develop a synthetic vaccine (to various viral proteins), a possibility mentioned in Business Week in Oct. 2005. It would be important to determine if a diluted vaccine can work. Anti-viral drugs like Tamiflu will be in short supply and may not work very well.

Another film was Smallpox 2002: Silent Weapon (2002, Fox, dir. Daniel Percival, 100 min) in which a smallpox epidemic is started by a lone fanatic in a subway tunnel. The quarantines happen in both the US and UK, and one of the heros, a teenage boy, dies. More people survive than die, and society is pretty much out of commission for several months.

A preventive measure would be to resume vaccinations. The US needs to accumulate enough vaccine and determine if a diluted vaccine can work.

No comments: