Who could have thought 2020 would get off to such a hellish start?
Well, Netflix's Explained did.
The second season of the Netflix docuseries, which released between September and November 2019, features an episode titled The Next Pandemic.
The episode goes into detail on past pandemics that tore through the human population as well as how ill-prepared humanity are to deal with a global outbreak.
The warnings in the episode from the likes of Bill Gates and other health experts are rather stark considering the position we find ourselves in now.
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Explained: The Next Pandemic
The 20-minute episode aims to educate viewers about pandemics and asks the all-important question: are we ready for one?
Throughout the episode, we are introduced to experts and officials offering their thoughts. This commences with a word from Bill Gates; after pondering how the world will end, the tech mogul says that humanity's downfall will most likely be the result of a pandemic.
The term refers to a disease which spreads and affects an entire country (epidemic), or even the entire globe (pandemic).
Narration from J.K. Simmons acknowledges that we have witnessed this tragedy numerous times and that in the sixth century, a pandemic killed half of the Earth's population while as recently as the late 1910s and early 1920s, the Influenza outbreak killed between 50 and 100 million people.
Of course, there have been so many advances since then but there are still pressing warnings in the episode that seem all too close to home with the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
The warnings in the episode
As mentioned, The Next Pandemic episode features a number of stern warnings from the likes of Bill Gates and other health experts.
A simulation in the opening moments of the episode suggests that a severe pandemic could potentially kill 33 million humans in just six months.
Microsoft's Bill Gates even warns that a pandemic outbreak could cripple economies as it spreads throughout countries across the globe, something which is happening due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An even more worrying warning from Gates is that the death toll of an extreme pandemic could be similar to or greater than the recent world wars.
How The Next Pandemic episode links to the situation we find ourselves in now
The episode of Explained bears some uncanny similarities to the current outbreak, especially in the section that highlights the SARS epidemic of 2002 which infected 8,098 people, killing 774.
Just like the new coronavirus outbreak, it is thought that SARS emerged from a wet market in China where live animals, potentially carrying diseases, are killed on location and sold to customers.
In the case of SARS, the virus died out almost on its own but the rapid spread of COVID-19 to almost every corner of the globe has proven that it's a much tougher illness.
On the lighter side, however, the episode does delve into virus prevention and details how new vaccines are always being developed to combat existing and potential outbreaks.
It's mentioned in the episode that scientists are currently working on a universal influenza vaccine, one that could be developed much quicker than a typical vaccine. Whether or not we see something similar developed for COVID-19 remains to be seen.
The Next Pandemic episode of Explained is available to stream now on Netflix.
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