Fans think Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Contagion’ predicted the coronavirus outbreak

2011 movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow depicts a global pandemic

Amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, many people are noting similarities between what is unfolding and the 2011 movie Contagion.

The Steven Soderbergh film, which stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard and Jude Law, depicts the outbreak of an epidemic as the scientific community races to contain a fictional virus, called MEV-1.

Fans have been comparing Contagion to the current coronavirus outbreak, with many plot elements mirroring what is going on in real life.


Among them is the spread of false information and how it exacerbates fear in the public, which is shown in the movie by Law’s conspiracy theorist Alan Krumwiede. His character spreads misinformation about the government having a cure, creating increased panic.



The film also shows officials responding to the outbreak by putting economic concerns ahead of public well-being, deciding to keep the disease secret from the public. This is similar to how the Chinese government initially denied knowledge of the coronavirus in its early stages.

Also similar is how the MEV-1 virus in the film is shown to have originated in China, where COVID-19 was also first identified.

Jude Law in ‘Contagion’. Credit: Warner Bros

As things stand, over 86,000 people have been infected with coronavirus, with more than 3,000 deaths. In the UK, 36 cases have been confirmed.

Speaking back in 2011 after Contagion was released, a leading scientist who advised the film said that it may not be far from reality.

“Scientists have been accused of overreacting and crying wolf over the threat of virus outbreaks after the influenza pandemic of 2009,” Dr Ian Lipkin said.

“Sars [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome] didn’t progress beyond a few locations, but outbreaks and pandemics will occur and we need to get our heads out of the sand and realise the real risks that we face. More than three-quarters of all emerging infectious diseases originate when microbes jump from wildlife to humans.

“Our vulnerability to such diseases has been heightened by the growth in international travel and the globalisation of food production. In addition, deforestation and urbanisation continue to displace wildlife, increasing the probability that wild creatures will come into contact with domesticated animals and humans.”