Expert says new film shows realistic threat

A former top official from the Department of Health and Human Services called the film "Contagion" frightening because of the realistic way in which the impact of the emergence of a killer virus is portrayed.

Tevi Troy, a former deputy secretary of HHS and a fellow at the Hudson Institute and at the Homeland Security Policy Institute, said that the film thanking the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense for their help indicated that, despite the government’s earnest but not entirely effective response to the fictional MEV virus, the real entities had no major qualms with the way events were depicted, the Washington Times reports.

“Based on my experience with U.S. biopreparedness efforts, the U.S. government’s role is depicted fairly accurately in the film,” Troy wrote, the Washington Times reports. “At the same time, even though the government comes off pretty well in ‘Contagion,’ the scariest part of the film is the vulnerabilities the film highlights in our current system.”

Troy wrote that despite spending $60 billion on biodefense since the 2001 anthrax attacks, there are still major vulnerabilities in our plans to defend against a major bioevent, whether it is manmade or not.

The former deputy secretary gave examples of instances when foreign countries have not cooperated with the U.S. government on biodefense-related matters, when public-sector employees were not reliable or ineffective in crises and when irresponsible pundits have exacerbated public health challenges.