Outbreak Turns 25 This Year, So How Does it Compare to the Coronavirus?


When Outbreak was released in 1995, screenwriters Laurence Dworet and Robert Roy Pool had no idea that they were predicting a global pandemic.

Now, with the world in lockdown to prevent the disease from spreading, the Hollywood writers take little comfort in knowing that they foresaw a deadly disease that would sweep the globe.

The story of Outbreak, 25 years on, is hitting a little too close to home — and people are watching on Netflix to compare the accuracy.

The film follows a team of U.S. Army medical researchers as they struggle to contain a fictitious disease, dubbed the Motaba virus, that’s quickly spreading in a California town.

In a new interview with Variety, Pool explained that the two writers had “contrasting personalities” which gave the film depth.

“He is anxious and worried, and he sees the dark side of things. I’m very positive and always think everything will somehow work out,” he said, before admitting: “Well, Laurie was right and I was wrong.”

Unlike COVID-19, the Motaba virus is much deadlier and sickens its hosts within hours of contracting it, while the “slow-fuse nature of coronavirus is what makes it so dangerous”.

To make the film, the writers did extensive research talking to infectious disease experts and in turn, decided that the disease would be spread by a monkey. From current research, it also seems that the coronavirus was passed on by animals, only in our case, a bat and pangolin.

Predicting a dire future for the world, Dworet believes that “our relentless drive for expansion is going to keep unleashing these viruses. This is just one of many,” he said.

Then, they turned their attention on the panic-stricken world in which they created, compared to our own.

“What we got right was the kind of chaos and fear that accompanies a virus’ spread,” Pool said.

Outbreak, which had an all-star cast of Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Cuba Gooding Jr., Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland and Patrick Dempsey, made it to Netflix’s Top 10 list in mid-March.

In the US rankings, it peaked at number three, as people still continue to tune in.

WATCH: The official trailer for Outbreak (1995).

The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

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