"Pandemic" Documentary Demonstrates Humankind Didn't Follow the Cues

by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
"Pandemic" Documentary Demonstrates Humankind Didn't Follow the Cues

Three years ago, CNN aired its documentary, "An  Unseen Enemy : Pandemic," which likened the Ebola epidemic to a "war." It documented how "better systems"  had not been in place for the 2014 "just drop and die" epidemic. 


Documenting the erradication of smallpox through a vacine, it scientifically ponders how influenza mutates and circles the world when a bird virus spreads to (for example) pigs then to humans, leading to both a panic and a pandemic.

The bat to pig to human highway of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been traced to a Wuhan (China) exotic animal market where snakes, racoon, dogs, porcupines,  and deer are jammed into cages, then, slaughtered. 

It is somewhere in this mass of wildlife that scientists believe the novel coronavirus likely first spread to humans. The disease has  infected more than 306,000 people and killed more than 13,300 (March 22) around the world.  

The documentary expresses the frustration of those working in public health. Distrust of government has led to emergence of conspiracy theories that vacinnes kill people rather than immunize. 

"Unseen Enemy" conjectures than the era of timely business travel , for instance, may have a scientist in an eradicated rain forest where fruit bats consume produce but also carry viruses that usually would not spread to humans. Individuals researching, exploring or cutting into forrests do that work in day light but an administrator may hop a plane for London for a next day meeting not knowing that they came into contact with animal excretment.  

The danger of an outbreak comes when many exotic animals from different environments are kept in close proximity.   "These animals have their own viruses," said Hong Kong University virologist professor Leo Poon. "These viruses can jump from one species to another species, then that species may become an amplifier, which increases the amount of virus in the wet market substantially."       Since the real pandemic is a "developing" story, the theory has shifted. Don't blame the bat (or animal) blame the human that encrouched into the animal's territory.    When a bat is stressed -- by being hunted, or having its habitat damaged by deforestation -- its immune system is challenged and finds it harder to cope with pathogens it otherwise took in its stride.  Scientists believe infections could be excreted (such as a fever blister in a human) causing excretion of the animal virus which humans acquire by working in areas foreign to the human animal.