In 2011 , the blockbuster, Contagion, was released, featuring several prominent actors. In summary, the movie is the story of a father who loses his wife and son to a completely brand new virus. This new virus, dubbed MOVE-I, originated from a bat in Hong Kong. The bat bit a fruit then dropped it into a pigpen infecting the pig that consumed the fruit with the bat’s virus. While pig was prepped to be cooked, the chef touched the pig’s mouth, getting virus on his hand and shakes the hands of woman, Beth, making her patient zero for MOVE-I .
The disease then spread to others who mom In contact with Beth or Beet’s belongings.
After the CDC realized the existence of this virus, they promptly started researching It. After several days of research, clients were able to determine that the virus was “15 to 19 kielbasas In length and containing six to ten genes, typical of a paramour’s” containing genes from bats and pigs, which attach to receptors found on cells In the respiratory and the central nervous system.
The virus is seemingly able to be contracted through the respiratory tract, but kills the host by making its way to the brain and causing encephalitis.
The vaccine for the virus was developed by first growing the virus in fetal bat cells in culture, propagating and isolating, and finally inoculating rhesus monkeys with attenuated and dead forms of the virus. Out of desperation for working vaccine, after observing one monkey surviving during the vaccination trials, one of the researchers injected herself with the tested vaccine given to the surviving chimp.
By doing so, she skipped the entire clinical trials portion of developing vaccines and had the vaccine abstracted to be mass-produced.
While this movie was more scientifically accurate then most other movies, there are still several aspects of the movie that seem incorrect. One aspect of the movie that stood out to me as incorrect was what the virus was considered to be. According to one of the researchers, the virus was described to have the physical qualities of a ovoviviparous. This statement itself is already inaccurate since a virus genome should not defer so much between the viruses infects a host. Though there may be a wide range of genomic size across the entire ovoviviparous family, the strain of virus hat Infects a host should not differ as much.
In addition, while physically the virus may resemble a ovoviviparous, it seems to have the pathological effects of a ovoviviparous, oblivious, and influenza combined. The virus Is highly contagious (a trait of avariciousness), yet kills the host quickly (common for oblivious), has a short Incubation period (traits of Influenza), and seems to cause encephalitis from entering through the respiratory tract (as seen by Influenza associated encephalitis). It Is extremely unlikely for a virus to exalt pathological effects of three different mammals of viruses at the same time.
For a virus to have the traits of three different families viruses, they virus can no longer be considered a paramour’s. In fact this virus seems to relate more to oblivious because of the high lethality and transmissible of the virus. In addition to the unlikely identity of the virus, the origin of virus seems just as spread to a pig and then to humans, which mimic the transmission route of the Hander virus, which is part of the ovoviviparous family. While the route of transmission seems credible, it is who is infected first that isn’t.
According to the movie, the first person to be infected is the wife, Beth. However, in reality she would not be the first become infected. If contracting the virus is as simple as touching the pigs mouth, the farmer raising the pigs or the butcher the operators of the slaughterhouse that kills the pig should be infected first. The farmers are dealing with the pigs much more closely and the operators at the slaughterhouse are constantly being exposed to blood and other bodily fluids of the pig and so they should have a bigger change of becoming infected first as opposed to Beth.
This is similar to the case of Hander virus, where the farmers were the first ones to become infected. However, if the virus has a high mutation rate, designing a possible vaccine for, it is extremely difficult. For example, designing the yearly flu shots can be somewhat of a guessing game. Scientists look at the global strains of influenza and make a prediction as to which strains will be prevalent the coming winter and then create a vaccine for those strains. Sometimes they are able to predict it well, other time they are not.
This vaccine must constantly be updated or changed because the virus itself mutates so past vaccinations are no longer effective. Obtaining the perfect vaccination for highly immutable virus, like in the movie, is nearly impossible. In addition, the researcher would have to test the vaccine that she created more times before even thinking about injecting it in a human. The only basis that the researcher had that the vaccine worked was that one monkey survived with that vaccine. Normally, a vaccine needs to be tested on many more monkeys to see if it is truly viable.
In addition, clinical trials are necessary to see how the general populace will react to the vaccination. Just because the vaccine works in animals does not mean that it will work the same in humans. Thus more tests are needed to ensure the quality of the vaccine. Lastly, after the Cutter Laboratories Incident, during which the vaccine made for polio actually caused polio itself, more stringent laws would have passed to require researchers to find the possible side effects of the vaccine. It would be terrible to have a repeat of the Cutter Laboratories incident for a lethal virus like MOVE-I.