Why Everyone Needs to Watch Netflix’s Pandemic

Claire Killian

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For many students, Coronavirus is the first global outbreak that actually means anything to us. We’re far too young to remember SARs, bird flu, swine flu, or any of the other diseases which have swept through nations. We were immediately thrown into a frenzy of memes and misinformation. Because Coronavirus is so new, not a lot was known about it, especially about how to fight it, or even how to identify it. It’s reached almost every corner of the world, almost all major airports are screening for it, borders have closed over it, and yet ask anybody and they probably can’t provide that much actual information on this phenomena.

In the last one and a half weeks, my mother had traveled through six different major international airports, and came back sick. Obviously we immediately started joking about how she had contracted the new disease, and was going to die, but as we laughed a part of me was genuinely curious about how Coronavirus manifested itself in people. I knew I absolutely could not sit through a dry New York Times article on it, or even something from Vice or Vox. So I checked Netflix, which, lo and behold, had a six-part, 45 minutes per episode, documentary on epidemics. Pandemic follows the lives of roughly six people during the 2019 flu season. They range from doctors in India, to anti-vaxx moms in Oregon, to scientists in Guatemala.

While documentaries can be boring, and one on disease control and prevention may sound particularly dull, because it relates so deeply to our daily lives it’s not just entertaining, but also engaging and informative. Every flu season we see staggering statistics, unbelievable numbers of fatality, and wonder how in our first-world country could so many people be dying of the flu? For most of us, it’s not a very intimidating thing, just a word that gets tossed around to mean an intense fever, or in reference to a shot nobody ever bothers to get. Pandemic shows how the flu devastates not just America, but also the world. Spreading through animals, human contact, and misinformation we can literally follow, nearly person-for-person, the spread of an epidemic. One thing which the series really drills into the viewer is the sheer lack of preparedness nations have for a new pandemic. As every single professional says at least once, it’s not if but when.

After watching Pandemic you will have an amazing new perspective on Coronavirus. Even though it covers a time before the disease started, you understand the fundamentals of how a disease starts and spreads. For anyone looking for a better understanding of Coronavirus, or who are interested in medicine, global politics, science, or even statistics (although I don’t know how many people are passionate about statistics), this is a must-watch documentary.