“Pandemic: How To Prevent An Outbreak”
By Rick Ellis
When you are trying to decide the best time to release a TV series, it can be better to be lucky than smart. That certainly seems to be the case for Netflix, which released this new six-episode documentary about the dangers of pandemics the same week that China seems to be undergoing an outbreak of the Coronavirus. And if you’re looking for a complete guide to all of the horrors that might be headed our way, “Pandemic: How To Prevent An Out-break” is an entertaining and informative look at how viruses spread and the efforts being made around the globe to lessen the impacts of infectious disease.
Pandemic begins with a search in a suspected mass grave site in Butler County, Pennsylvania that contains victims of the 1918 Spanish Flu. In an era before air travel, that pandemic killed at least 50 million people worldwide and it’s the event that drives a lot of the relentless efforts of scientists to simultaneously work towards more effective vaccines and ways the spread of a mass outbreak can be slowed. One scientist warns that it’s only a matter of time until a new deadly pandemic surfaces and given the interconnected world we live in, a new outbreak could kill hundreds of millions of people.
《流行病》開篇伊始就探尋了位于美國賓夕法尼亞州巴特勒縣一個懷疑是集體墓地的地方。那里埋葬了死于 1918 年西班牙流感的人。在航空旅行到來前的時代，這場流行病在全球范圍內奪走了至少 5000 萬人的生命。正是這場流行病驅使科學家們持續不斷地努力，既要研發出更見效的疫苗，又要研究如何延緩傳染病的大規模暴發。有位科學家警告說，出現一種新型的致命流行病只是時間問題，而考慮到我們生活在這個相互聯通的世界，一旦傳染病暴發就能殺死數以億計的人口。
We tend to think of the flu as more of an inconvenience than anything else in the United States, although we know in the abstract that it can kill people. But the flu actually kills 700,000 people or so globally each year. Most of the deaths are preventable, if patients had access to the flu vaccine & quality healthcare that could intervene early enough in the illness to prevent a more severe outcome. And one strand of the stories interwoven in Pandemic is concerned with the issue of providing adequate healthcare. The urban hospital in India that generally doesn’t get patients from rural areas until they are near death. The small county hospital in Oklahoma that has a one doctor working 72-hours shifts and has been close to shutting down in recent years. Those stories are scary but probably aren’t a surprise, given the lack of health care resources in smaller communities.
我們往往認為，在美國，流感不過就是多點兒麻煩，雖然我們知道理論上它能要人命。但是，實際上流感每年都致使全球約 70 萬人死亡。大多數的死亡病例是可以避免的，假如病人提前注射過流感疫苗或者有良好的醫療護理，能夠在疾病早期進行干預，就能避免更嚴重的后果。貫穿《流行病》的主題之一，就是提供充足的醫療護理的問題。印度城市中的醫院通常不接受鄉下來的病人，除非他們已經瀕臨死亡。美國俄克拉何馬州的小型縣級醫院里，一名醫生工作 72 個小時才換班，而且近年來基本接近閉門關張的狀態。鑒于小型社區醫療資源匱乏，這些故事雖然嚇人，但可能并不令人意外。
But there are also plenty of warnings about what a mass outbreak would mean to large urban areas like greater New York City. One health care official notes that most hospitals in NYC are working at close to 100 percent capacity in a normal flu season. A pandemic would overwhelm the health care system within days. To say nothing of the impact an outbreak would have on everything from food supplies to burial services. In other words, no area is safe or comfortable in the midst of a widespread viral outbreak. So the most effective approach is to stop the spread of the virus before it becomes a major pandemic.
但是，對于大紐約市這樣的大型城市區域傳染病大暴發的后果，紀錄片也給出了不少的警告。一位醫療官員提到，紐約市的大多數醫院在正常的流感季節都將近 100% 全負荷運轉。一旦傳染病大暴發，會在數日之內擊垮醫療體系。更不用提大暴發還會影響從食品供應到喪葬服務等的各行各業。換言之，一旦病毒大規模暴發，沒有哪個區域會是安全舒適的。所以最有效的方法是，在大暴發之前就阻斷病毒的傳播。
Pandemic also introduces viewers to some of the scientists working towards the Holy Grail of viral immunology: a vaccine that would prevent transmissions of a wide range of viruses. This would not only make the current somewhat ineffective flu shots a thing of the past, it would also hopefully make it possible to prevent the next pandemic. The documentary follows one small bio start-up which is in the midst of animal trials on a possible universal vaccine. It appears to work, but requires a series of seven shots. The scientists struggle to bring down that number of required shots, while bootstrapping animal trials with their own money. At one point, they head to Guatemala to do tests on pigs, in hopes of getting results positive enough to allow them to move to human trials.
But mixed in with all the hard work and optimism is the growing movement of people unwilling for whatever reason to get vaccinated. From guerrillas in the Congo who are convinced an Ebola vaccine is actually giving people the disease to Oregon anti-vaxers who see requiring immunizations as a consent issue, a fear of traditional medicine is hampering efforts to slow the progress of the flu and other viral diseases. One Oregon mom says she believes her children don’t need to be vaccinated if they are simply given healthy foods and live a clean lifestyle. Hearing her talk about immunizations makes me wonder how these anti-vaccination supporters will respond during a pandemic in which health care workers are offering a preventive vaccine.
That tension between science and emotion, hope and despair is ultimately what makes “Pandemic: How To Prevent An Outbreak” so compelling. It’s a complex issue and one that sits at the heart of a lot of arguments being made in 2020. What are our responsibilities as a society? Are we required to get immunizations for the greater good? Is it worth spending money in anticipation of a pandemic that might not take place for 50 or 100 years? After watching the series, I’m not sure I have the answers to those questions. But I definitely feel more qualified to know what I don’t know about pandemics.
科學與情感、希望與絕望之間的張力是使《流行?。喝绾晤A防流感大暴發》如此扣人心弦的終極原因。這是個復雜的問題，而且是 2020 年諸多討論的核心問題。作為一個社會，我們的責任是什么？要求我們接種疫苗是為了更多人利益嗎？為了預防一個可能在 50 年或者 100 年內都不會發生的流行病花費金錢是否值得？在看完這個系列紀錄片之后，我不確定能回答這些問題。但我確實覺得自己能更好地了解那些我不知道的關于流行病的事。