Netflix recently released a new documentary called Coronavirus Explained. The original production made in association with Vox, comes off almost like an extended feature story from a newscast and actually does explain the current outbreak up to the point where the information was available.
For instance, it explains from the top why scientist call this a Coronavirus. It’s because the virus has a crown shape. It also gives us the actual name of the virus itself (Sars-Cov-2). I found this simple point very enlightening. This is because there have been a number of incomplete reports on COVID-19 referencing diagnosis of “the virus that causes COVID-19”.
While my understanding is no better than others who try to read available information, I personally found it frustrating. It felt like I was not getting complete information.
The documentary also explains why the disease is named COVID-19. It’s essentially an acronym for Coronavirus Disease 2019.
Knowing things like how the disease is named doesn’t solve the problem of its existence. But with any enemy it is important to know what it actually is.
In another section the documentary explains how the virus is passed from person to person and some of its symptoms and even what may have caused it to hit in the first place. A damning portion reminds us of what happened with other previous major outbreaks of other members of the Coronavirus family like SARS and the last huge pandemic known as the Spanish Flu. It shows that we are in danger of repeating mistakes that we could understand with 2020 accuracy.
This documentary was obviously already well under way before this current outbreak because it was being put together to talk about the threat of Pandemics and why they can be dangerous which allowed the filmmakers the opportunity to be able to present historical data. But it appears that the film they originally expected to make had to be heavily retrofitted and re-edited.
It is impossible for anything that is filmed to be current week to week during a developing story even a few weeks later. So there are likely already inaccuracies about the disease built in to the film simply because we are learning new things about it every week. I found it very helpful to hear the explanation of terms we hear through around constantly like throwaway lines. The film gives us a matter of fact understanding of Herd Immunity, Flattening the Curve, Pandemic and Social Distancing, which narrator JK Simons described as the gentler cousin of quarantine.
Should you watch this?
Obviously I’m not a doctor. I am a consumer advocate and entertainment reporter. The only way I know how to do deal with a pandemic is to take in as much reliable and scientifically supported information as I can find and adjust accordingly. That said, Conoavirus Explained is a tool that we would all do well to see. If nothing else because as our understanding continues to develop it is helpful to have a knowledge base to know where we started from. The fact that it gives viewers a strong understanding of the terminology and methodology for how we are approaching it as a country and individual communities is just too helpful to ignore.
Be safe my friends.