Monsters & Critics was sent the exclusive preview for Pandemic: COVID-19 airing this Wednesday on Discovery and their sister network, Science Channel. We also had an opportunity to speak with one of the scientists involved in the documentary.
A team of experts in a wide swath of professional fields on the front lines is interviewed to disseminate the most accurate and up-to-date information as the coronavirus pandemic continues to march across the world and now seems to be making the USA the epicenter of new cases.
COVID-19 is an invisible killer that is sweeping the world. People are coming together in a bid to help each other, and doctors are sharing valuable information, but this virus has changed life as we know it.
At the latest estimates, there are a quarter-million infected, and numbers continue to rise. New York has the most reported cases, and other countries’ borders are closed to travelers. In the USA, schools are shut down, and most large American cities are on lockdown.
The economy was moving along with record low numbers of unemployed, and now there are estimates that upwards of 30% of the country is not working.
Everyone is worried and thinking, how big is it going to be, and how out of control is it going to get? Most medics feel a vaccine is unlikely to be available in the next 12 months.
The rapid spread of COVID-19, a novel form of coronavirus, is examined in a one-hour special. This in-depth look at the COVID-19 pandemic will air on both Discovery and Science Channel.
The documentary is produced by Gretchen Eisele for Discovery and executive producers Ian Russell and Sarah Jane Cohen with producer Nick Powell.
We spoke to one of the scientific experts featured in this documentary.
Exclusive: Christine McDaniel, Senior Research Fellow at Mercatus Center at George Mason University, speaks out
Monsters & Critics: Christine, the latest is the predictions are the USA will be the COVID-19 epicenter with the red states who are refusing to put in stay at home orders as the hardest hit, states like Texas and Florida.
What would you advise the Governors of these conservative-leaning states, especially with Florida’s Gov. DeSantis now looking for emergency disaster aid, and those who think issuing stay at home orders is an overreaction?
Christine McDaniel: It’s too early to know for sure what the optimal precise action is — because there is so much uncertainty. It’s nearly impossible to weigh all the costs and benefits.
And there are certainly economic costs issuing people to stay at home, shutting schools, businesses, and local economies. We are starting to see the benefits of what countries have done such as China and South Korea.
That said, this week we are now seeing what is happening in Italy, and in New York. Most experts are saying that New York is 10 days behind Italy. And while we don’t know if New York will play out in the same way as Italy, the risk of that occurring is non-zero. The cost of what Italy is going through clearly outweighs the cost of people staying out home.
When it comes to local and state leaders, they really need to ask themselves which side of the equation do they want to be on?
There is no one exact answer. Requiring people to stay in place and shelter has short-run economic costs, while not requiring them to stay in and shelter can have longer term and devastating economic and health consequences.
At the very least, let’s give our local, state, and federal leadership and the health community the time to get the testing equipment and gear up for a sharp increase in hospitalizations. The economy as we know it will not survive a pause for 12-18 months, which is how long the medical community says it will take to find a vaccine.
A more target, precise approach will be needed than a blanket quarantine. Some short term economic costs now could save us much greater longer term economic devastation later.
So it seems pretty clear what the choice is front of leadership.
One country that stands out is South Korea. Even on their worst day, their cases were a fraction of what others are seeing. They took swift and widespread action early on before the infection rate got too high. They asked people to stay in place, take social distancing measures and offered widespread testing.
Their whole citizenry worked together. Their swift action was not cost-less but it appears it may have saved them longer term damage. So it seems like a no brainer to local government.
What does Pandemic: COVID 19 cover?
But how does this zoonotic virus spread happen?
Experts will shed light on its treatment and transmission. The special will also look at how within a matter of weeks, COVID-19 spread throughout China and the world, alarming healthcare professionals and scientists.
The doc will take viewers inside the fight to contain the spread of it with the top breaking news on how the government is coordinating to test and treat patients and to prevent further spread of coronavirus.
Experts will reveal what makes COVID-19 so vexing to epidemiologists and examine the reasons we were unprepared for it and what could have been done differently to contain its spread.
The special will also trace the origin of the outbreak in the United States to the first patient, its rapid spread in Seattle and probe the dramatic and unexpected transmission across the country. Viewers will hear from the leading experts in medicine on the frontlines as well as academia, government officials and patients with first-hand accounts.
Despite quarantines in multiple countries such as China, Korea, and Italy, this story takes many dramatic turns, as the number of infected and reported dead in the United States is shooting up at a rate that few can comprehend.
The doc will look at the drastic measures happening across America as business, academic institutions, and social life as we knew it is being shut down to prevent transmission.
In addition to watching the special on Discovery and Science Channel, viewers can watch Pandemic: COVID-19 by downloading the Discovery GO app.
Safe social media conversations can be had using the hashtag #PandemicCovid19 and following Discovery on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.
Watch our exclusive preview of Pandemic: COVID-19
Pandemic: COVID-19 airs Wednesday, March 25, at 10/9c on Discovery and Science Channel