The documentary’s uncanny relatability to our current reality makes it both riveting and terrifying.

Netflix’s Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak follows the heroes in the front lines of the battle against the spread of deadly pandemics, reiterating the severity of our present-day threat.

The six-part docuseries was released in January and remains popular on Netflix. Its ever-growing popularity can be attributed to its applicability to the recent outbreak of the global pandemic, covid-19.

Filming took place before the coronavirus outbreak, and so it is never actually mentioned.

The documentary examines the phenomena of pandemics by focusing on how they spread and how they can be contained.

This is done by providing a look inside the lives of health workers and scientists who have dedicated themselves to outbreak prevention and containment efforts worldwide, from scientists trying to find a universal cure for the flu, to health workers stationed in the Republic of Congo fighting the spread of the Ebola virus.

The documentary starts with a bang by striking fear in viewers. We are shown a mass grave site from the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, followed by frightful black and white images of overwhelmed hospitals during that time.

Dennis Carroll, then director of the United States Agency for International Development’s Emerging Threats Unit, says the site serves as a warning of the possible carnage that another pandemic could wreak. “It’s not a matter of if, but when,” he says in the documentary, which has proven to be hauntingly accurate.

The series is both informative and moving, giving an authentic insight into the different obstacles that health workers and scientists face.

However, it’s the show’s impeccable timing and subject matter that make the documentary successful, as many people did not watch the documentary when it was released, but much later.

“I only watched it after the university shut down,” says Shanice Naidoo, a BCom law student at Wits.

The producers, Zero Point Zero Productions (who also produced Netflix’s Rotten), captured the subject matter but failed to grip audiences throughout. The storytelling was often sluggish and included unnecessary content.

Nevertheless, the series was thought-provoking given our current circumstances. Therefore, I would recommend it to people interested in learning more about pandemics amid the current covid-19 outbreak.

Vuvu rating: 6/10.

FEATURED IMAGE: The documentary, Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak, is available for streaming on Netflix. Photo: Catia De Castro