Coronavirus, Explained: Documentary Review

With all the reports and studies about COVID-19, I must admit that it gets pretty overwhelming to process all of the information at once. Death tolls are rising by the day while new cases have surpassed the one million mark and threatens to reach its second million in the next few weeks. I was thankful to see Netflix release Coronavirus, Explained a brief documentary/primer on the disease. 

For a 26 minute documentary narrated with the familiar voice of J.K. Simmons, Netflix effectively encapsulated the most recent data surrounding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) global health pandemic that is currently plaguing the world.

From its beginnings several months ago, Coronavirus, Explained delved into the origins of the virus and the role of containment in curbing the spread of the disease. It explored early studies surrounding the new coronavirus, which was earlier traced to bats. It compared COVID-19 to previous coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS-COV, and explained why the previous outbreaks (which turned out to be more fatal) did not spread as widely as the latest addition to the Coronavirus family. 

The documentary also compared the behavior of the disease compared to early Coronavirus strains. In looking at the pandemic, the series also drew comparisons to the influenza, flu, measles and other outbreaks that caused the death of millions of people all over the world.

Armed with scientific data, Coronavirus, Explained objectively presented the information and pitted it against the response that world leaders made during the early stages of the disease. From denial to panic and resignation, superpowers have eventually been compelled to close down businesses and transportation with the common goal of flattening the curve.

As nations faced the blow of economic slowdown vs protection of public health, the scientific community valiantly came together to share information and develop a vaccine for the disease.

It was heartening to know that within days of learning the genome strain of COVID-19, experts were able to develop test kits that helped detect those who were infected. In the general scheme of things, it was crucial to developing a concrete plan of action among the most successful government response. It sent a truly positive message about how humanity needed to pull together to get through this ordeal. 

I think the main strength of the documentary was its ability to lay out the details in an objective manner. It presented the facts and underscored its message with plain data that is easily digestible for audience with little knowledge of science — from the impact of deforestation and commercialization on the spread of disease, to high risk patients, to risk of infection, to historical comparisons on the response to previous pandemics, and even lessons learned from premature lifting of lockdowns.

Coronavirus, Explained successfully compelled viewers to understand the entire situation and to find hope that humankind can get past this major challenge through a comparative look at the different approaches that were taken by different countries.

It also encouraged viewers to take a look at priorities that governments have set in terms of budget and policies and if resources are being used for the right programs. It was a very subtle wake up call to remain vigilant amid the challenges that this virus will continue to present in the near future. 

Coronavirus, Explained, while it was presented in a plain and straightforward fashion, was able to evoke strong feelings for humanity as a whole – to rally for survival and adjust to a new normal. In the end, while there are still many questions that remain unanswered, the show left no doubt about humankind’s ability to get through this ordeal, as it did with so many previous pandemics. 

Watch this documentary, seriously. Its an eye opener.