The Cough That Launched a Hit Movie

From The New York Times:

Contagion-movie-trailer-pic-194f4 When Hollywood turns to medicine, accuracy generally heads for the hills. But the creators of the new action thriller “Contagion” went to unprecedented lengths to fact-check their story of a destructive viral pandemic, retaining a panel of nationally renowned virologists and epidemiologists as consultants. The intent was to infuse the usual hyperbole with an extra frisson: This is the way it could really happen. Be very afraid.

You have to applaud the effort, for the movie does indeed offer a procession of dead-on accurate scenes that not only could happen but, in many cases, have already happened. Still, the whole thing is an improbable caricature, with 100 action-packed Hollywood minutes veering far from reality. You can still be very afraid if you want, if a contagious apocalypse happens to be your thing. But it’s not going to happen this way. “Contagion” begins modestly and realistically enough, with a cough. Gwyneth Paltrow, a midlevel executive for an international corporation, gets sick on her way home from a business trip. She coughs from Hong Kong through a layover in Chicago and on to Minneapolis, producing clouds of a deadly Asian virus and leaving infectious droplets on everything she touches. She is the pandemic’s index case, and her napkins, used tissues, drinking glasses and three-ring binder are all vectors of disease.

More here.