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Coronavirus: People should have taken Contagion 'much more seriously', says film's scientific advisor

Pandemic movie from 2011 has rocketed up the rental charts amid the coronavirus outbreak

Ellie Harrison
Saturday 07 March 2020 13:19 GMT
Coronavirus: WHO chief says markets should 'calm down' over Covid-19 crisis

A scientific advisor on the 2011 film Contagion, which has soared in popularity since the outbreak of coronavirus, has said people should have taken the movie “much more seriously”.

Contagion, which stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon, imagines a global epidemic that originates in Hong Kong and results in millions of fatalities.

Veterinary pathologist Tracey McNamara, who worked as a scientific adviser on Contagion, told BuzzFeed News the film should have served as a cautionary tale.

She said: “If people are watching it again, and if federal and state officials are watching it again, I hope they’re realising that the movie was really about what can happen with a novel pandemic threat, and I think people should have taken it much more seriously.

“I wish people had paid closer attention to it when the film came out, because it really was a warning to the federal government that this could happen and you need to prepare.”

McNamara’s job was to make the fictional disease in Contagion seem as realistic as possible, and she said the movie “really rang true” in terms of its depiction of how disease spreads and how long it takes to develop a vaccine.

In the wake of coronavirus dominating headlines, the film experienced a renaissance, rising to become one of the Top 10 most popular rentals in iTunes film chart. Buzzfeed News also reports that it is the second most popular Warner Brothers film in 2020.

Contagion’s producer recently told the publication: "It was very deliberately designed to be a cautionary film. We got the science right."

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