‘Contagion’: Doctor Warns Coronavirus is ‘Worse’ Than the Fictional Virus in the 2011 Movie

As the coronavirus pandemic increases in severity all over the world, many people are looking back to the movie Contagion for some answers. Contagion tells the story of a contagious virus that one woman catches and spreads all over the globe. Contagion has many things in common with the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. However, one doctor recently wrote about the differences between the fictional virus from the 2011 movie and coronavirus. He says the qualities of coronavirus make it even more dangerous than the disease in Contagion.

Marion Cotillard attends the Contagion premiere in Paris on October 23, 2011 | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Doctor says COVID-19 is even worse than the infectious disease in ‘Contagion’

A doctor from Pittsburgh recently wrote an opinion piece for the site TribeLIVE.com titled: “Dr. Paul Carson: Why coronavirus pandemic is worse than the film Contagion.”

“I rewatched Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 film Contagion last night,” he wrote. Dr. Carson called the movie “a cautionary tale considering what we are facing today.”

“While the film is fiction and along with that comes dramatic cinematic effect, I think it’s worth taking a closer look at the pandemic depicted in the film,” the physician continued. Dr. Carson pointed out the obvious similarities between Contagion’s virus and COVID-19:

In the film, the virus depicted was determined to be highly contagious, transmitted easily through surface contact to where it was widely spread on public transport and through casual urban contact. It had the common respiratory droplet transmission as well. They determined the virus to have a very high …. average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person. All of this so far is very consistent with what we know about covid-19.

A man wears gloves and a bandanna while riding a scooter past a shuttered movie theater in Beverly Hills, California | Mario Tama/Getty Images

However, there are quite a few differences from Contagion, too. Of course, the main one being that the virus depicted in the film is quite a bit more deadly. While this is, on the surface, positive, Dr. Carson points out why this actually makes COVID-19 more dangerous in some ways. He wrote:

In the film … people died quickly. Paltrow was dead by the first 10 minutes of the film. By dying, she stopped her own transmission of the virus to others. The host died, the virus died with that transmission … the high death rate helped contain the virus.

The incubation period for coronavirus is also much longer than the disease in ‘Contagion’

Carson clarified that while he’s “not wishing death on anyone,” the virus killing the person more quickly is “actually a built-in containment mechanism.” The coronavirus does not “have that ‘benefit.'”

Also, the disease that spreads in Contagion “had a very short incubation period — that is, hours.”

He explained why COVID-19’s longer incubation period is so dangerous. It’s able to spread like wildfire. Dr. Carson wrote:

The trailer for Contagion | YouTube

With covid-19 infection, most will walk around for near a week without feeling any symptoms, unknowingly spreading the virus. When we do finally feel sick, if you are lucky enough to get a test, then and only then are you asked to ‘quarantine.’ By then, if you were not already sheltering in place prior to the testing, you probably spread it to a whole bunch of people.

Dr. Carson is optimistic that if we spread this information, more people will quarantine, and stop the spread of coronavirus

The doctor acknowledged in the article that this information is very doom-and-gloom. However, he hopes that his piece “gets shared with the people who are not taking this seriously.” That way, the people who have decided not to self-quarantine realize the severity of the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully, that way the United States won’t end up in a situation like the characters do in Contagion.

“What you do now will affect the world, your country, your family and loved ones,” Dr. Carson concluded. “Be smart. Be safe. Share.”