Returning from a business trip in Hong Kong, Beth Emhoff has a layover in Chicago and meets a former lover for sex. Two days later, in her family home in suburban Minneapolis, she collapses with seizures. Her husband, Mitch Emhoff, rushes her to the hospital, but she dies of an unknown cause. Mitch returns home and finds that his stepson Clark has also died. Mitch is placed in isolation for testing but is later found to be immune; he returns home to his teenage daughter Jory.
In Atlanta, representatives of the Department of Homeland Security meet with Dr. Ellis Cheever of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and express fears that the disease is a bioweapon intended to cause terror over the Thanksgiving weekend. Cheever dispatches Dr. Erin Mears, an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer, to Minneapolis to investigate. Mears traces the outbreak back to Beth. She negotiates with local bureaucrats, who are reluctant to commit resources for a public health response. Mears later becomes infected and dies. As the novel virus spreads, several cities are placed under quarantine, resulting in looting and violence.
At the CDC, Dr. Ally Hextall determines the virus is a combination of genetic material from pig- and bat-borne viruses. Work on a cure stalls because scientists cannot discover a cell culture within which to grow the newly identified MEV-1. University of California professor Dr. Ian Sussman violates orders from Cheever to destroy his samples, and identifies a usable MEV-1 cell culture using bat cells. Hextall uses the breakthrough to begin research on a vaccine. Other scientists determine the virus is spread by respiratory droplets and fomites, with a basic reproduction number of four when the virus mutates; they project that 1 in 12 of the world population will be infected, with a 25–30% mortality rate.
Conspiracy theorist Alan Krumwiede posts videos about the virus on his blog. In one video, he claims he has cured himself of the virus using a homeopathic cure derived from forsythia. People seeking forsythia overwhelm pharmacies. During a television interview, Krumwiede discloses that Cheever secretly informed friends and family to leave Chicago before quarantine was declared. Cheever is informed he will be investigated. Krumwiede, having faked his illness to boost sales of forsythia, is arrested for conspiracy and securities fraud.
Using an attenuated virus, Hextall identifies a potential vaccine. To cut out the lengthy time it would take to obtain informed consent from infected patients, Hextall inoculates herself with the experimental vaccine and visits her infected father. She does not contract MEV-1 and the vaccine is declared a success. The CDC awards vaccinations by lottery based on birthdate. By this time, the death toll has reached 2.5 million in the U.S. and 26 million worldwide.
Earlier, in Hong Kong, World Health Organization epidemiologist Dr. Leonora Orantes and public health officials comb through tapes of Beth’s contacts in a Macau casino and identify her as the index case. Government official Sun Feng kidnaps Orantes as leverage to obtain MEV-1 vaccine doses for his village, where she remains for months. WHO officials provide them with vaccines and she is released. When Orantes learns the vaccines given to the village were placebos, she runs to warn them.
In a flashback, a bulldozer knocks down a banana tree while clearing rainforest in China, disturbing the natural habitat of some bats. One bat finds shelter in a pig farm and drops a piece of banana, which is eaten by a pig. The pig is slaughtered and prepared by a chef in a Macau casino, who transmits the virus to Beth in a handshake.
* * *
* * *
WOMAN 1 [OVER PA]: Once again, for passengers traveling on Flight 1457…
…to Orlando, please take advantage of the boarding bag-check announcement.
[WOMAN 1 SPEAKS INDISTINCTLY OVER PA]
[CELL PHONE RINGS]
You’ll pick it up at baggage claim in Orlando.
It’s a really full flight today.
Hey. JON [OVER PHONE]: Yeah, Jon Neal here.
You just had sex with me in a hotel and left without saying goodbye.
Yeah, it ended up being delayed, so… Sorry, I was panicking.
Well, if I don’t get to see you again…
…I just wanted to say it was nice to see you again.
Yeah, it was nice to see you too. Heh.
Um, and listen, use that other e-mail I gave you…
…because that’s the only secure one, okay?
You all right?
Yeah, I’m just…
I’m just jet-lagged. I’m tired.
You should go home and get some rest. Hong Kong’s a long way.
WOMAN 2 [OVER PA]: Attention passengers on Flight 5228…
JON: Is that you?
Yep, that’s me. They’re calling my flight.
All right. Well, look, I’m really glad you called.
WOMAN 2: Please have your boarding passes out and ready.
Good morning, Roger. ROGER: Hey.
So you really kicked ass in that football pool, huh?
You need to give up on your Lions. Pick with your head, not your heart.
Yeah, thank you for the tip.
Yeah. Hey, hey. Hey, doc, uh–
I know you’re busy. Uh-I, uh–
You got a second?
I got a medical question.
Uh, my kid’s been, uh, having problems at school.
Uh, attention deficit thing.
He been diagnosed yet?
That’s the thing. They want him to see someone.
I was wondering if you could take a look at him.
I’m not really that kind of doctor.
Oh. Ha, ha. I didn’t know. I just thought–
Maybe I can refer someone, though.
Yeah. It’s treatable.
We’ll find someone, have them take a look.
Shouldn’t be a problem.
[CHATTERING AND COUGHING ON MONITOR]
LORRAINE: Why doesn’t anybody help him? Is he okay?
ALAN: Read the posts.
Some say it was staged. An art project.
Some say the authorities wouldn’t do an autopsy.
Covered it up.
Covered what up?
We don’t know.
Maybe Minamata disease. You know, from mercury in the fish.
There have been outbreaks in the past. Fishing industry suppresses it.
Yeah, but it’s just one man.
We don’t know what happened.
Just one man on video.
Not everyone has the foresight to die in front of a camera.
The ones we don’t see worry me.
Fish is shipped all over the world from there.
How many people read your paper over a plate of sushi?
Alan, we have almost no freelance budget anymore, and after H1–
You wait. A few days, this will be tweeted and YouTubed all over the planet.
We don’t wanna be the paper that cries wolf.
I’ll show it to Hobart. He does our health stuff.
You’re gonna give him my story? You’re gonna give him my story, aren’t you?
No, Alan, I’m trying to help you. It’s just one man on a bus.
I taped this meeting.
We need more information than that.
This story runs in the Chronicle, I will sue your ass.
Great. Okay, bye, Alan. Don’t call me anymore.
Print media is dying, Lorraine.
It’s dying. I’ll save you a seat on the bus.
Hi, I’m Mitch Emhoff. I’m Clark’s stepdad. Clark Morrow.
SECRETARY: All right, I’ll let him know you’re here.
He said he was feeling very warm in Mrs. Tatum’s class.
I took his temperature again since I called. It was a touch over a hundred.
MITCH: Okay. Well, first his mom and now the mighty Clark, huh?
All right, let’s go get some soup for you and Mom.
SCHOOL NURSE: Hope you feel better, Clark, okay?
Okay. Thank you.
We’re gonna beat this thing down by Turkey Day.
WOMAN [ON TV]: I’m in Texas. I’ll try it. I’ll try anything once.
MAN: Ha, ha. That’s not true.
MITCH: Jory’s going straight from the band trip to her mom’s place.
And my job interview got pushed to next week.
I’m not really sure what that means. Hopefully nothing.
Come here, sit down, sit down, sit down. Watch your feet. Come on.
Come on. Come on, honey.
Okay, what happened? Did you take too much of that flu shit?
Honey? Beth, Beth. Hey, hey, hey. Honey, honey.
Beth. Jesus. Jesus. Sweetheart. Sweetheart. Hey, Beth.
No, no, no. Uh-Stay there, Clark. Don’t–
Just go-Go up to your room, honey. Uh…
MITCH: Beth. DOCTOR: Beth, can you hear me?
My name’s Dr. Arrington. You’re in the hospital.
You had a seizure this morning, Beth.
NURSE: She have a history of seizures?
No, no, no.
NURSE: Allergies? -Uh, I think she’s allergic to penicillin.
DOCTOR: She fall recently? Hit her head?
No, she came back from a trip–
DOCTOR: What about drugs? MDMA? Ecstasy?
No. No, we don’t do that.
DOCTOR: Okay, let’s get some help in here. MITCH: Jesus. Beth. Beth.
NURSE: Sir, you have to go. You have to go.
DOCTOR: Let’s get a line in her.
And give me 2 milligrams of Ativan, please.
[EKG BEEPING RAPIDLY]
So, um, despite all our efforts, she failed to respond.
And her heart stopped…
…and unfortunately, she did die.
I’m sorry, Mr. Emhoff.
I know this is hard to accept.
Okay. I mean, so can I go talk to her?
Mr. Emhoff, I’m sorry. Your wife is dead.
I mean, I just saw her. We were just at home.
Is there somebody that we can call?
Someone who you think should be here with you?
I mean, we had dinner. We had pizza. She said she was jet-lagged.
You mentioned that she was away. Hong Kong?
We checked the latest bulletins.
The only things there were measles and H1N1
…and this was not that.
Then what was it?
We don’t always know.
I mean, some people get a disease and live, some get sicker and die.
We’re gonna have to notify the medical examiner…
…and they may request an autopsy.
Or if you wish, we can order one.
But I can’t guarantee it’s gonna tell you any more than I can.
I mean, my best guess is that this was either meningitis or encephalitis…
…and with encephalitis, we’re in the dark a lot of the time.
If it was summer, I might say a bug bite, you know, West Nile.
I don’t know–
Herpes can cause encephalitis.
She didn’t have herpes.
What are you talking about?
What happened to her?
What happened to her?
Mr. Emhoff, there are grief counselors…
…who are very helpful with this sort of passing, okay?
You might find some resolution there.
Now, I am sorry.
[CELL PHONE RINGING]
Hang up the phone and call 911 right now. Right now. 911.
CARRIE ANNE: He said he had a headache, so I put him to bed.
I don’t think he’s breathing.
Oh, my God, is he dead?
LEOPOLD: What we are hearing from Beijing is that the outbreak is contained…
…to the Chrysanthemum complex in Hong Kong.
Two deaths and 10 suspected cases.
WHO OFFICIAL: How are we defining “contained?”
LEOPOLD: They’re using the same protocols established for SARS.
They’re quarantining the complex and screening for symptoms.
ORANTES: Kowloon is the most densely populated area in the world…
…and Hong Kong is a harbor.
It’s going to spread.
LEOPOLD: Hong Kong is sending us blood samples.
We’re also looking at samples from London.
Two clusters: one at a hotel, the other at a health club.
Five dead, encephalitis.
And there’s the man on the bus in Tokyo.
Three dead in that cluster.
Any of them travel to China or London?
PARAMEDIC: Mr. Neal, I want you to stay with me here.
Can you hear me? Have you had seizures before? Mr. Neal?
I want you to open your eyes if you can. MRS. NEAL: He’s breathing, right?
[SOBBING] I couldn’t wake him. I got home, I couldn’t wake him.
We both woke up sick this morning.
PARAMEDIC: Watch your head.
MEDICAL EXAMINER: Hmm…
Well, the sulci are obliterated. Let’s look at the base.
Oh, my God.
You want me to take a sample, or…?
I want you to move away from the table.
Should I call someone, or…?
CHEEVER: Well, these things happen up there from time to time.
Meningitis in a college dorm after a swim meet…
…or West Nile in some summer camp near a lake.
I was reading that last summer they had an outbreak of enterovirus encephalitis.
A hundred and three cases, mainly children.
Well, it’s probably too cold up there for that right now.
As of last night, there were five deaths and 32 cases.
There’s a cluster in an elementary school.
That’s the kind of thing you have to be prepared for.
It’s gonna be all over the news.
What’s your single overriding communications objective?
We’re isolating the sick and quarantining those who we believe were exposed.
As of this moment, you and I are attached at the cell phone.
If you need resources, call me. If you get into a political dogfight, call me.
If you find yourself wide awake, staring at the walls at 3 a.m…
…wondering why you took the job, call me.
DAVE: I sure hope you packed something warmer than that.
We’re looking at around zero with the Windchill.
Don’t want you to catch cold.
Do you wanna go to the hotel first, get situated?
MEARS: I’d prefer to get started, if that’s possible.
DAVE: Okay. MEARS: How far is the office?
About a half-hour from here.
DOCTOR: Your dad’s in isolation.
You can go up to the window, pick up the phone, and you can talk to him.
Are you sick?
No, no, no. I’m-Uh…
This is all just, you know, a precaution. They’re, you know, just making sure.
But you were with them. You could still get it.
No, I won’t. Um, they said this happens really, really fast.
And, uh, I’m fine. There’s nothing wrong with me.
There’s nothing wrong with me. We’re okay. We’re okay.
Yeah, you know, I, um…
I wasn’t there. I went, uh, in the ambulance with, uh, Beth.
And, uh, I just didn’t-I–
I left him with, uh, Carrie Anne.
I should have been there.
I could have helped.
No, no, no. Honey, no, no.
It’s good that you weren’t there. I’m happy.
If something had happened to you, I mean, I’d…
Honey, you’re here now, you know. I’m happy about that.
I’m happy about that.
When are you coming home?
Soon. Very soon. They, you know…
Why don’t you go, uh, to your mom’s?
Just stay in Wisconsin.
No. She doesn’t need me.
She’s got Dan. I live here.
You don’t have anybody. I’m not leaving you.
OFFICIAL 1: We have 47 cases and eight deaths as of 5 this afternoon.
It’s a weekend. These numbers might be low.
People are staying home for a couple days, see if they get better.
At this point, I think we have to believe this is respiratory.
Maybe fomites too.
What’s that, fomites?
Uh, it refers to transmission from surfaces.
The average person touches their face 2 or 3000 times a day.
2 or 3000 times a day?
Three to five times every waking minute.
In between, we’re touching doorknobs…
…water fountains, elevator buttons and each other.
Those things become fomites.
Is this something we wanna release to the press? Respiratory and fomites?
How’s the public gonna react?
Hard to say. A plastic shark in a movie…
…will keep people from getting in the ocean, but a warning on cigarettes–
We need to walk the governor through this before we freak everybody out.
I mean, heh, we can’t even tell people right now what they should be afraid of.
We tried that with swine flu. All we did was get healthy people scared.
It’s the biggest shopping weekend of the year.
OFFICIAL 2: We need to consider closing schools.
And who stays home with the kids? People that work at stores.
Government workers. People that work at hospitals.
When will we know what this is? What causes it, what cures it?
Things that keep people calm.
What we need to determine is this:
For every person who gets sick…
…how many other people are they likely to infect?
So for seasonal flu, that’s usually about one.
Smallpox, on the other hand, it’s over three.
Now, before we had a vaccine…
…polio spread at a rate between four and six.
Now, we call that number…
R stands for the reproductive rate of the virus.
Any ideas what that might be for this?
How fast it multiplies depends on a variety of factors.
The incubation period, how long a person is contagious.
Sometimes people can be contagious without even having symptoms.
We need to know that too.
We need to know how big the population of people susceptible to the virus might be.
So far that appears to be everyone with hands, a mouth and a nose.
Once we know the R-0, we’ll be able to get a handle on the scale of the epidemic.
So it’s an epidemic now. An epidemic of what?
We sent samples to the CDC.
In 72 hours, we’ll know what it is, if we’re lucky.
Clearly, we’re not lucky.
EISENBERG: What do we got?
A young woman in Minnesota, recently traveled to China.
Son also died.
As of this morning, 87 cases, 15 deaths.
Did you have a good Thanksgiving?
Texas. Salmonella. Pretty limited.
Mine was great, thanks.
It’s pleomorphic, but tends toward ovoid in shape.
I see structures on the surface that look like glycoproteins…
…but there’s nothing morphologically pathognomonic.
We tested all her antibodies. I didn’t see much cross-reactivity.
Her body had no idea what to do with it. It just kept amplifying.
HEXTALL: Send it to Sussman in San Francisco.
If he doesn’t know what it is, nobody does.
It shows novel characteristics and appears to be chimeric in origin.
Virus is 15 to 19 kilobases in length and containing six to 10 genes.
Typical of a paramyxovirus.
It’s Godzilla, King Kong and Frankenstein all in one.
SUSSMAN: Hold on. Shit, I’ll call you back.
You’ve got it in there.
Get away from here.
Where’d it come from? Military?
You’re not a doctor and you’re not a writer.
Yes, I am a writer. Yes, I am.
Blogging is not writing. It’s graffiti with punctuation.
I am a journalist, and there’s informed discussion on the blogosphere…
…that this is a biological weapon.
You wanna talk to me, call my office and make an appointment.
FRENCH: Dr. Cheever?
Do you have a moment?
We found him. Tell the unit on the way to his house to come in.
Excuse me. Who are you?
My name is Dennis French with the Department of Homeland Security.
And what’s this all about?
Rear Admiral Haggerty’s expecting us in the emergency operations center.
We can discuss it there.
FRENCH: This happened in Kowloon.
Today we’ve got workers at a casino in Macao striking over conditions.
Three have died in one bunkhouse. CIA thinks there may be a connection.
Casinos are of particular concern to Homeland Security.
Someone’s ready to blow themselves up at a pizzeria or the local market…
…the thought of getting themselves sick with smallpox…
…and walking through a crowded casino must have crossed their mind.
What did they die of, the three?
Reports are vague. Seizures, comas.
We’ve reached out to the WHO, see what they know.
If you were gonna plan it, can’t think of a better time.
Is there any way someone could weaponize the bird flu?
Someone doesn’t have to weaponize the bird flu.
The birds are doing that.
NEWSCASTER: Officials are reporting the closing of Mondale Elementary School…
…in suburban Minneapolis…
…in response to the recent outbreak of a still-unknown disease…
…that has so far taken the life of a school nurse and three students.
Other schools in District 281 will remain open…
…but parents have been notified to keep home any children with symptoms.
The Minnesota Department of Health is awaiting confirmation…
…but sources say these new cases may be connected to the sudden death…
…of a 34 year old AIMM Alderson executive…
…and her 6 year old son this holiday weekend.
Hello. I’m Dr. Mears.
I’m an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer…
…and I’m here from Atlanta to find out what happened to Beth Emhoff.
Okay, I’m gonna ask you some questions and see if–
There was a package she messengered from Hong Kong.
I opened it with scissors. I’m not sure if–
No. It shouldn’t be an issue.
Virus can’t live for days on a box.
We did Pilates together.
I called her after she got back. I never heard from her.
So you had no contact with her?
Did she go to the class?
I didn’t see her there.
We had coffee the day she left.
I think she might have moved my cup because it was on some papers.
I can’t remember.
How many days ago?
About 10 days.
That’s okay. The incubation period is less than that.
Is there anyone else who might have had contact with her?
This was everyone. MAN 1: Aaron Barnes did.
MAN 2: Barnes? He worked on another floor.
MAN 1: There were documents she needed to sign. He picked her up from the airport.
[CELL PHONE RINGING]
MEARS: He picked her up from the airport? Where is he?
Hello? Mr. Barnes? BARNES: Hello? Yes.
This is Dr. Mears from the Centers for Disease Control.
Hi. I believe you may have had contact with Beth Emhoff last week.
Yeah, I picked her up at the airport. What’s this about?
And how are you feeling today?
Uh, pretty cruddy, to be honest.
My head is pounding. I probably picked up some bug.
Where are you right now?
I’m on the bus, heading to work.
I’d like you to get off immediately.
He’s on a bus. DAVE: Where?
Where? Where’s the bus, Aaron?
Lake and Lyndale. What’s going on?
Lake and Lyndale.
I really need you to get off that bus.
It’s possible you’ve come in contact with an infectious disease…
…and you’re highly contagious. Do you understand?
I want you to get off now. And stay away from other people.
Now what do I do?
Don’t talk to anyone, don’t touch anyone.
That’s the most important thing.
We’ll send somebody to meet the bus.
I’m on my way to you now, Aaron.
What about my kids? I touched them.
It was a groundbreaking ceremony for a new factory.
She traveled a lot for work.
Did her work involve contact with livestock in any way?
Did you keep any pets at home?
Did she mention seeing anyone who was sick?
Anyone on a plane?
She went through customs in Chicago at 11:15 a.m…
…and then took a flight to Minneapolis at 6 p.m.
Any idea what she did in Chicago during that layover?
Did she have meetings?
Is there any reason she might have left the airport?
Why? I mean, is there someone sick in Chicago?
Uh, before we were married, my wife had a relationship…
…with a man in Chicago named Jon Neal.
Is Jon Neal sick?
Did we get this from him?
We’re investigating all the possibilities.
No. I think I have a right to know.
Look at where I am here. Look at where I am here.
I can’t disclose that information. I’m sorry.
No, I’m just.. I’m just trying to understand.
HEXTALL: We’re getting the same results as Sussman.
We’ve sequenced the virus, determined its origin…
…and we’ve modeled the way it enters the cells of the lung and the brain.
The virus contains both bat and pig sequences.
The dark green is pig, and the light green is bat.
And here you can see the crossover event.
Uh, bat, bat, and pig, bat.
And here is a model of the virus and how it attaches to its host.
The blue is virus, and the gold is human, and the red is the viral attachment protein…
…and the green is its receptor in the human cells.
These receptors are found in the cells of both the respiratory tract…
…and the central nervous system.
And the virus attaches to the cell like a key slipping into a lock.
Somewhere in the world, the wrong pig met up with the wrong bat.
You ever seen anything like this before?
No. And it’s still changing.
It’s figuring us out faster than we’re figuring it out.
It doesn’t have anything else to do.
So we have a novel virus with a mortality rate in the low 20s…
…no treatment protocol, and no vaccine at this time.
That is correct.
From here on out, I want no one working on this except at BSL-4.
Last thing we need is for this to walk out of the lab on the bottom of someone’s shoe.
[CELL PHONE RINGING]
Dr. Sussman’s office.
H EXTALL: Ian, hi. Ally Hextall.
We need to shut you down. This thing’s too hot. Uh…
BSL-4 only at this point.
I think that’s a mistake.
Cook your samples. Uh, destroy everything.
We can’t risk it.
We’re making progress.
You limit this to government-run BSL-4s, it’ll take forever.
I can do this.
REPORTER 1 [ON TV]: Can you repeat the affected cities so far?
CHEEVER: Again, the affected cities are…
…Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Salt Lake.
We expect that list to grow…
…as people return home from their holidays.
REPORTER 2: Dr. Cheever, how many people are infected…
…and how many have died?
CHEEVER: Those numbers are changing as we speak…
…so any figure I give you is likely to be low.
We’re still calculating the mortality rate at this time.
REPORTER 3: Uh, Dr. Cheever, are you concerned…
…that the CDC faces a credibility issue here…
…after the perceived overreaction to H 1 N 1 ?
I’d rather the story be that we overreacted…
…than that many people lost their lives because we didn’t do enough.
That’s why we’re here.
It’s also why the World Health Organization is sending an epidemiologist to Hong Kong.
It’s hard to know what it is without where it came from.
So our first job with these things is always to find ground zero.
Figure out how it jumped into the population.
We do know that a patient in Minnesota…
…traveled to that part of the world.
We believe that there are approximately 89,000 cases at this point…
…and that we are heading toward 267,000.
And from there, using our model, based on an R-0 of two…
…here is where we expect to be in 48 hours.
Dr. Cheever, perhaps you can update us on the research.
As of right now, no one has found a good way to grow the virus in cells.
ORANTES [OVER MONITOR]: Why is that?
Because it kills every cell we put it in. A pig, a chicken, everything.
Until we can grow it, and a great deal of it, we can’t experiment with it.
And until then, we can’t vaccinate against it.
Have you found any treatment at all? Any antivirus? Anything?
ORANTES: Beth Emhoff used an ATM at a casino in Macao.
Citibank released her records.
We have her using the machine at 10:43 just off the casino floor.
I wanna see the casino security footage for two hours on either side of that.
[BOTH SPEAKING IN CHINESE]
Is there a problem?
Oh, they’re from my village. They found a new cluster there.
Is your family still there?
My mother has symptoms.
I’ll get you the footage you require. Excuse me.
Dr. Sussman, I heard that they were shutting us down.
Yeah, I just have to deal with the samples.
If it’s just a matter of destroying them, I can do it.
No, I’ll take care of it. You go on home.
I’ll do that, and then I just want to recheck some data.
CHEEVER: He grew it.
HEXTALL: He tried antibodies and immunological MAC outlines…
…but the key was a fetal-bat cell line from Geelong.
We didn’t have it.
He grew it in a BSL-3.
Ally, what the hell was he doing working with it in a BSL-3?
He’s gonna publish. Shit. What does he want?
A box of cigars. He had a choice, Ellis.
He could have gone into business for himself.
There’s no doubt he was approached, but he gave it to us.
And we’re supposed to trust him?
We don’t have a choice.
NEWSCASTER: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States…
…and the World Health Organization in Switzerland…
…confirmed today that Dr. Ian Sussman of San Francisco…
…has succeeded in growing the ME V-1 virus in a laboratory setting.
Officials at the CDC cautioned that the breakthrough is only the first step…
…toward developing a vaccine…
…which is likely still months away from human trials.
The WHO estimates the number of people infected worldwide to be over 8 million.
ALAN: Now it all changes.
Sussman gets anointed by the National Academy of Sciences…
…and every pharmaceutical executive gets a hard-on.
They’ll be growing the virus in every lab on Earth.
It’s a bad day to be a rhesus monkey.
Crikey, first we shoot them into space, now we’ll be shooting them full of virus.
So this is where we need your expertise.
Pharmaceutical stocks are already through the roof.
What’s next? Where’s the opportunity?
Now, you saw that Shinko bus thing day one.
That’s why we wanted this meeting.
When I turned on my computer this morning…
…I had over 2 million unique visitors, all looking for the truth.
You think they wanna see me talking to some hedge-fund guy?
Mr. Krumwiede, we don’t invent need here.
We just analyze it, predict it.
You tell me what it costs to look into your crystal ball.
You’re familiar with forsythia?
No, I’m not.
What I’m about to tell you is backed up…
…by testimonials that will appear shortly in the popular media.
I’ll be talking about it extensively in the days ahead.
What does forsythia do?
It’s the cure.
MITCH: If I’m immune, can’t you use my blood to cure this?
MEARS: Blood serums can take a long time to make, and are very expensive.
But the good news here is that you’re not going to get sick.
Then that would mean that my daughter can’t get it either, right?
I can’t promise you that.
But isn’t that something that she would inherit from me?
Well, half her immune system came from you…
…but the other half came from her mother.
[CLAMORING AND COUGHING]
MAN: –almost three hours.
I need to see a doctor or a supervisor or something.
I wanna know if he has this thing on the news.
NURSE: I’m sorry, sir, we’re doing the best we can.
MAN: Can I just speak to an administrator or something? Anybody.
NURSE: Sir, please be patient. We’ll get you in–
MAN: He’s sick!
DAVE: My wife makes me take off my clothes in the garage.
Then she leaves out a bucket of warm water and some soap.
And then she douses everything in hand sanitizer after I leave.
I mean, she’s overreacting, right?
Not really. And stop touching your face, Dave.
Okay, we’ll put the air lock here.
I want 25 rows of 10 beds apiece. The most febrile cases at this end.
We’ll set up triage outside, FEMA can handle food in the basement…
…and we’ll need to be operational within the next 24 to 48 hours.
Nice job, Dave. This will work.
Now find me three more just like it.
Excuse me, Dr. Mears. Is this coming out of your budget or ours?
WHO has confirmed that the Hong Kong sample…
…matches London, Tokyo and Abu Dhabi…
…and we’re seeing large clusters in from Frankfurt and Cairo.
MEARS [OVER SPEAKER]: Are we any closer to an index patient?
Could be your Beth Emhoff or the guy on the bus in Japan.
Someone else who crawled off the grid. How you doing?
Yeah, good. I’m going into a meeting with–
No, I didn’t ask what you were doing, I asked how you were doing.
How are you doing?
You know, I was in the field for 15 years.
I’ve seen a lot of shit. If you’re not doing fine, you can tell me.
You ever have to tell a man who just lost his wife and stepson…
…that his wife was cheating on him before she died?
No, I haven’t.
I’m sure you did the best you could.
You sound tired.
You gotta try to remember to sleep once in a while.
When was the last time you had something that didn’t come out of a vending machine?
Local officials are now saying over 3000 cases have been confirmed…
…in the western suburbs…
…as well as the first cases reported in Ramsey, Carlton and Saint Louis counties…
…as the virus continues to spread.
JORY: Got it!
A state Health Department spokesperson…
…at this hour is appealing to hospitals as far away as Iowa for medicine.
MITCH: No, don’t open that door. Don’t open the door.
Uh, sorry, Andrew, I can’t let you in.
I just came to give my condolences, Mr. Emhoff.
I understand. Thank you. Uh, but I can’t let you in.
I’ll just leave them, then.
No, actually, you should take them. Uh, thank you, though.
I’ll call you later. MITCH: Bye.
We just, you know, aren’t gonna take any chances.
[CHATTERING OVER MONITOR]
WOMAN: Do you know how to play this?
No, I have no idea what’s going on.
But it looks fun.
WOMAN: You wanna try?
Oh, yeah, my turn, okay.
This one. Crab. Okay.
Oh, my God. I’ll do-What is that? Which one is this?
WOMAN: Coin. MAN: It’s a coin.
Oh, okay, okay, okay.
ORANTES: It’s transmission. So we just need to know which direction.
[SPEAKS IN CHINESE]
But we don’t know where it comes from.
I would like to suggest that the virus started before Macao…
…and maybe here in Hong Kong.
You’re considering pronouncements with serious implications.
A virus is too small to be seen on video camera.
This is Dr. Erin Mears in Room 821.
I need you to get me the names of everyone who serviced this room in the last 24 hours.
Also, you need to get in touch with the waiter…
…who brought me my room service last night.
I need all of their numbers. Home, cell, everything, yes.
CHEEVER [OVER PHONE]: Mears?
…I think I’m sick.
What? What’s going on? What kind of symptoms do you have?
Can’t swallow. Severe headache. Ahem.
What’s your temperature?
Uh, listen, you can’t-You just–
You can’t panic now, okay?
Are you alone?
I’ve definitely infected other people.
You don’t know that.
So, what should I do?
Well, I want you to stay in your room.
I’ll call the people at the Health Department, I’ll tell them you’re there.
Erin, just-You’re gonna be okay.
No, I know. I know.
You gotta send somebody else.
Yes, but you don’t worry about that right now, okay?
You take care of yourself.
I’m sorry I couldn’t finish.
That’s-Never mind that. Let me see what I can do about getting you back here.
I’m gonna get you home if I can, healthy.
Now, you hang in there.
FUNERAL DIRECTOR: The problem is, we just can’t take delivery of the bodies.
We have insurance issues with our own employees…
…with our union, not to mention the health of the mourners, to consider.
I just-I wanna bury my wife and my stepson…
…and have a service where our friends and our family can come…
…and pay their respects and grieve.
I understand, and I am truly sorry about your loss.
Have you considered other options?
SARAH: How can they do that? We have a family plot here.
MITCH: They want us to think about cremation.
They just say that it’s the safest thing in a situation like this.
SARAH: I wanna be buried with my daughter and grandson…
…with Jack and my parents.
I want us all together.
They’re not gonna take them, Sarah. They’re not gonna take the bodies.
I’ll figure something out. I’ll figure something out.
She made mistakes, Mitch…
…but I know she loved you very much.
I’m gonna use some of these to get us some drinks, okay?
JON [ON RECORDING]: You have not reached Jon Neal…
…but you will if you leave a message.
Hi. It’s me. Um…
I checked the flights, and I can actually get an earlier flight…
…that would give me a five-hour layover in Chicago…
…so let me know if that’s something that you’d like me to do.
That’s for you, okay? BARTENDER: Oh, thank you.
BETH: Thank you very much. Thank you.
IRINA: Excuse me. BETH: Oh, my God.
ORANTES: Emhoff gave it to the Ukrainian. SUN FENG: That just shows contact.
Maybe it went the other way. What about Li Fai?
He was on the casino floor. ORANTES: Watch this.
Whoa. Oh, good. Okay, come on. Let’s get one together. Ready?
MAN 1 & MAN 2: Cheers.
MAN 1 : Let’s go.
That’s him with Emhoff at 12:08.
I can show you the Ukrainian woman on the security camera in the elevator…
…going back to her room 20 minutes earlier.
She was gone before Li Fai started work.
It came from here.
Emhoff is the index patient.
We need to know everywhere she went before the casino.
I want to see her itinerary again.
They say the French and Americans have a cure.
They’re manufacturing it in secret.
WHO knows, but they’re in bed with the Americans.
The Internet? And you believe it?
I don’t know.
How’s your mother?
We tried forsythia, but she wasn’t strong.
There’s a mass grave in Ian Tau.
I’m taking this to the ministry. We need to send this to Geneva.
SUN FENG: I need you to come with me.
What are you doing?
What’s going on? Sun Feng. What’s going on? What are you doing?
What are you doing?
We couldn’t wait any longer.
While they cure each other, we’re here…
…at the end of the line.
This is what is left of my village.
ORANTES: Are they sick? SUN FENG: Not yet.
And we’re gonna keep it that way.
You’ll stay here with us until they find a cure.
ORANTES: How is that gonna help?
You’re gonna get us to the front of the line.
DAVE: Dr. Mears.
Dr. Cheever called again.
We’re just having a hard time with the logistics of evacuating you.
Finding a plane and all.
I got your phone.
Dr. Cheever, he asked you to call if you feel up to it.
Now, we’re setting up a special ward…
…for medical personnel and first responders at the university.
I wanna move you there…
…but the nurses’ union is calling a work stoppage…
…until protocols are in place.
There are volunteers, but it’s just…
It’s hard right now to know where’s the right place.
You’re asking me to spend a lot of resources on one person…
…and right now, I can’t do that.
Dr. Mears would agree with me.
She’s one of our own, Lyle. We sent her up there.
Okay, I sent her up there. I would like to go get her back.
We have a plane with an isolation pod…
…to bring our people in the field home when they’re sick, right?
What’s going on, Lyle?
There’s a sick congressman from Illinois in D.C.
He was in Chicago over the holiday.
They’re using the pod to fly him home.
Then they’re closing down Midway and O’Hare.
The governor there is calling out the National Guard. They’re setting up roadblocks.
They’re shutting down the board of trade, the public transportation.
Even the Teamsters are pulling drivers off the road.
People are still gonna slip through.
Yes, they will.
The Secret Service is moving the president underground.
Congress is figuring out how to work online.
When the word goes out…
…there will be a run on the banks, gas stations, grocery stores, you name it.
People will panic. The virus will be the least of our worries.
It will tip over now.
We just need to make sure that nobody knows until everybody knows.
ALAN: My temperature’s 101.
Higher than it was earlier.
My head hurts…
…and my throat feels like it’s closing.
This is forsythia.
I’ve been taking it since the onset of the symptoms.
If I’m here tomorrow, you’ll know it works.
Truth Serum Now. I’m Alan Krumwiede.
AUBREY [OVER PHONE]: How many people are gonna die?
Well, in 1918…
…1 percent of the population died from Spanish flu.
It was novel, like this, no one had ever seen it before.
One percent of America?
One percent of the world.
As many as 70 million people could die, baby, maybe more.
So, what do we do?
I don’t know. We try to figure it out.
This is why I sent Mears up there, to Minnesota.
And now I can’t get her back.
She’s sick, Aubrey, and I can’t do anything for her…
…because there are no nurses now.
Because they’re on strike.
How can they do that?
Because there’s nothing they can do.
We’re just putting healthy people next to sick people…
…and hoping that the healthy people don’t get sick. It’s ridiculous.
I’m sorry, Ellis, but that’s not your fault.
I sent her up there, Aubrey.
If one in four are dying, that means three out of four are living, right?
So the odds are in her favor.
I want you to get in your car and drive down here to Atlanta now.
You hear me, Aubrey?
What are you talking about?
I want you to get in your car and leave Chicago.
I want you to drive here to Atlanta. Drive by yourself.
You do it. You do it now. Don’t tell anyone and don’t stop.
Stay away from other people, understand? Keep your distance from other people.
Call me when you’re on the road, Aubrey.
Did you hear…?
I got people too, Dr. Cheever.
We all do.
NYGAARD [OVER PHONE]: Hey, friend, what’s up with blowing off dinner?
I’m sorry, Liz.
Why you so flaky? You feeling okay?
This flu sh–
Stuff is really spooky. What does Ellis say?
He says it’s-He says it’s serious.
What do you mean, serious?
Where are you?
I’m getting out of town.
I’m gonna tell you something…
…and you’re not gonna repeat it.
Cover your mouth, please. MAN: Fuck off, lady.
PHARMACIST: We will only be able to give out 50 doses today.
WOMAN: What? PHARMACIST: That’s our allotment.
MAN: This is bullshit.
Hey. There-Excuse me, there’s a line here. Excuse me!
Where’s the fire department?
JORY: Is anyone even working here?
Just get the cereal.
Jory, don’t touch anything. -Help me.
MITCH: Okay, take your gloves off.
Here, give me your hands.
Okay. I want you to really rub this in.
Okay, okay, come on.
Come on, come on. MAN: Unh.
MITCH: Hey, get away from there. Get away.
Lock the door.
GUARD: Get back in your car, sir. Get back in your car.
MITCH: No, no, I’m not-I’m immune.
MITCH: I’ve already had it.
And my daughter’s not sick.
MITCH: She’s not, no. We’re just trying to get to Wisconsin.
GUARD: The border is sealed. The governor has declared a quarantine.
Get back in your car.
No, we don’t wanna go back there. We wanna go across.
There is no way across. Get in your car.
We’re not sick.
Get back in your car or I will detain you.
Get in the car!
We have to go home.
ALAN: What are you doing here?
I think I had a seizure.
I can’t-I can’t find any in the stores. I tried.
Look, I don’t have any here. People broke in.
I’m-I’m pregnant, Alan.
And I have-I have money.
I can give you some money.
Lorraine, you shouldn’t be out.
I’ll bring it to you when I get it.
MAN [SHIVERING]: I was wondering if I could get another blanket.
This one’s very damp now.
NUN: I’m truly sorry, sir. We’re out of blankets.
We’re hoping for more to be donated. We put the word out.
What about the heat? Can we turn that up?
I’ll find out.
When did we run out of body bags?
Two days ago.
We’re trying to get more in from Canada, but they just wanna wait and see.
CROWD [CHANTING]: No more lies! No more lies! No more lies!
[THUDDING ON WINDOWS]
GUPTA: There are stories on the Internet that in India and elsewhere…
…the drug ribavirin has been shown to be effective against this virus.
Yet Homeland Security is telling the CDC not to make any announcements…
…until stockpiles of the drug could be secured.
Well, Dr. Gupta, there continue to be evaluations of several drugs.
Ribavirin is among them.
But right now, our best defense has been social distancing.
No hand-shaking, staying home when you’re sick…
…washing your hands frequently.
Can you tell us, to date, how many people have died from this virus?
Very difficult. We’re still working on, uh, confirming that number.
There are 50 different states in this country…
…which means there are 50 different Health Departments…
…followed by 50 different protocols.
Let me bring Alan Krumwiede into this debate as well.
Uh, Alan’s a freelance journalist.
Uh, he was the first to track the “Shinko Bus Man” video.
Uh, Alan, today on Twitter…
…you wrote that the truth about this virus is being kept from the world…
…by the CDC, by the World Health Organization…
…to allow friends of the administration to benefit from it…
…both financially and physically.
Uh, there are therapies we know are effective right now, like forsythia…
…and they don’t even appear on the CDC website.
GUPTA: On your blog, you also wrote…
…that the World Health Organization is in bed with pharmaceutical companies?
Because they are.
That’s who stands to gain from this. They’re working hand in glove.
And the hand is reaching into our pockets.
The CDC is exploring forsythia and other homeopathic treatments.
But right now, there’s no science to back any of these claims.
Or no way Dr. Cheever or the people who put him into power can profit from it.
We’re not ruling anything out.
There are people who are sick, people who are dying, and we are doing–
They’re not keeping us safe from this any more than–
We’re concerned about every American citizen.
Dr. Cheever is being a bit disingenuous when he says “every American citizen.”
We’re working very hard to find out where this virus came from, treat it…
…and vaccinate against it if we can.
We don’t know all of that yet, we just don’t.
What we do know is that in order to become sick…
…you have to first come in contact with a sick person or something they touched.
In order to get scared, all you have to do is come in contact with a rumor…
…television or the Internet.
I think what Mr. Krumwiede is spreading is far more dangerous than the disease.
You’re funny, because if you check on Facebook…
…you’ll find a communiqué attributed to Dr. Cheever by Elizabeth Nygaard…
…about the quarantine of Chicago hours before it was announced to the public.
That’s why I think he’s a bit disingenuous…
…when he says equal care for all and not just his friends.
Some pretty wild allegations here, Dr. Cheever.
Can you tell us what communication appeared and when?
What is the nature of your relationship with Elizabeth Nygaard?
I’m not aware of anything attributed to me on any social network.
I’m sure you’re not. It is there. It is there.
Tell them what an R-0 of two really means, Dr. Cheever.
Teach them some math. Hm?
No? I’ll do it.
On day 1, there were two people with it, and then there were four.
And then it was 16, and you think you’ve got it in front of you…
…but next it’s 256, and then it’s 65,000…
…and it’s behind you, above you, and all around you.
In 30 steps, it’s a billion sick.
Three months. It’s a math problem you can do on a napkin.
And that’s where we’re headed.
And that’s why you won’t even tell us the number of the dead…
…will you, Dr. Cheever?
But you’ll tell your friends when to get out of Chicago…
…before anyone else has a chance.
HAGGERTY: They’re looking for a scapegoat.
You just made it easy.
The only reason we’re not taking this to the attorney general…
…is because we can’t replace you right now.
But there’s gonna be an investigation. Do you understand that?
And we don’t wanna see you in front of the cameras anymore.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where did you come from?
It’s mutated. CHEEVER: Which way, better or worse?
HEXTALL: It’s moved into an African HIV AIDS population.
The Durban cluster is highly divergent.
We have a new R-0, Ellis. It’s not two anymore.
CHEEVER: I thought you said once we could grow it, we could vaccinate against it.
We tried using dead virus combined with atrophins to boost immune response.
No protective antibodies, a lot of dead monkeys.
Can you get to the good news?
Now we have to try a live attenuated virus.
Like with polio?
The only danger with a live virus…
…is the possibility that it will revert to wild type and kill the host.
And when will we know about that?
I’ll ask the monkeys.
CHEEVER: As of right now, the mortality rate is fluctuating…
…between 25 and 30 percent…
…depending upon underlying medical conditions…
…socioeconomic factors, nutrition, fresh water.
With the new mutation…
…we are predicting an R-0 of no less than four.
And without a vaccine, we can anticipate…
…that approximately one in 12 people on the planet will contract the disease.
FEMA WORKER: Folks, attention.
We appreciate your patience and we’re doing the best we can.
We have exhausted our supply of meals ready-to-eat for today.
Please remain calm. We’ll be sending–
Please-Hey. Can we get some help over here?
FEMA WORKER: Leave the park in an orderly fashion.
WOMAN: Help me!
You okay? WOMAN: Thank you.
Sorry, they got one of them. MAN: Get the trucks!
Get the trucks!
There’s-There’s nothing in there!
NEWSCASTER [ON TV]: As the death toll in the United States is now believed…
…to have reached 2.5 million…
…the president issued a statement today from an undisclosed location…
…implementing mandatory curfews in major metropolitan areas…
…after a second consecutive day of riots in Dallas, Miami, Cleveland and Phoenix.
Absenteeism in law enforcement is nearing 25 percent…
…according to reports–
OPERATOR [ON RECORDING]: Because of the high volume of 911 calls…
…please use the following directory:
If you have symptoms, please hang up and call 612-188-6336.
To report a death or for the removal of a body, please press 1.
[KNOCKING ON DOOR]
Hello? Anybody home?
I can’t feel my hands.
That messed up my snow angel.
I’m fine, Jory.
If neither of us have it, then we can’t give it to each other.
MITCH: Get away from her. -Dad!
Get away. Get away.
What are you doing?
Go home, Andrew.
CHEEVER [OVER PHONE]: Are we even close?
If we even had a viable vaccine right now…
…we would still have to do human trials, and that would take weeks.
And then we would have to get clearance and approval…
…figure out manufacturing and distribution.
That would take months.
And then training survivors to give inoculations.
More months, more deaths.
Well, Homeland Security wants to know…
…if we can put a vaccination in the water supply, like fluoride.
Cure everyone all at once.
I’m going home now, Ellis. It’s getting late.
MR. HEXTALL: What are you doing? -it’s okay, Dad.
No, it’s not okay.
Do you remember Dr. Barry Marshall?
Thought that bacteria caused ulcers, not stress.
Gave himself the bug and then cured himself.
You taught me about him.
I’m testing my vaccine.
No, this is different.
I don’t want to get you sick.
Ally, you can’t take that chance.
Oh, Dad, you’re here because you stayed in your practice…
…treating sick people after everyone else went home.
You took that chance. You took that chance every day.
[WHIMPERS THEN SOBBING]
He won a Nobel Prize.
Yes, I know, Dad. Ha, ha.
[GASPS THEN WHIMPERS]
NEWSCASTER: The Food and Drug Administration is accelerating approval…
…of the MEV-1 vaccine…
…currently in production at five secret locations in the U.S. and Europe…
…saying the first doses could be available for human use within 90 days.
The WHO estimates that it could take nearly a year…
…to manufacture and distribute the necessary amount of the vaccine…
…to stop the spread of the virus…
…which so far has taken over 26 million lives worldwide.
But as labs work around the clock to produce the life-saving formula…
…the question remains: Who gets it first?
Don’t touch me. BURGLAR: Where is it?
We don’t have it.
Bullshit. He works there. He gets it first.
We don’t have it. We have to wait–
CHEEVER: Aubrey? AUBREY: Ellis?
Where are you?
AUBREY: It’s because they saw you on the news and they heard about what happened.
You all right?
They knew where you worked.
They waited for you to leave.
Get up here. Come on. Let me look at you.
I tried to stop them.
Did they touch you? Did they look sick?
They had masks on, Ellis, and gloves.
Don’t tell me that-Aubrey, we get the vaccine tomorrow.
You have to trust me, Ellis.
They didn’t touch me.
ALAN: After the Spanish flu in 1918, you know, people got rich.
The Vicks VapoRub people, the Lysol people, look it up.
One man dies, another man makes money off his coffin.
One country culls all their chickens, red meat goes into higher demand.
I’m not the first person to make money…
…off the fact that our immune system is a work in progress.
The pharmaceutical industry do it every quarter.
I don’t think anyone is immune to opportunity, Alan.
It’s just that studies show that there is no proof that forsythia works.
Who conducted the studies?
What defines “works”? Against what strain of the virus?
Did you know about the studies when we met the last time?
We can get in a lot of trouble–
Do you really think this Dr. Hextall CDC person is Jesus in a lab coat?
The government rushed the trials.
The lawyers indemnified the drug companies.
Maybe it causes autism or narcolepsy or cancer 10 years from now.
The swine flu vaccine killed people back in 1976.
So we’re all guinea pigs, starting from today.
Just wait, they’ll start listing side effects like the credits at the end of a movie.
People trust you, Alan. If you tell them not to take it–
They trust me. All 12 million unique visitors.
I’m a trusted man stepping up to a microphone…
…in front of a very large crowd.
That’s who I am. That’s the brand.
I say the right thing, nobody shows up for their shot.
Maybe they’d rather roll the dice with forsythia.
I can make that happen.
I just wanna know I’m in the best position possible when I do.
What does that mean, exactly?
If I’m gonna step into the crosshairs, I wanna know what’s in–
Is he with you?
Are you wearing a wire?
Alan, I didn’t have a choice. They’ve seen your blog.
AGENT 1: Get him.
[AGENT 2 SPEAKS INDISTINCTLY]
AGENT 3: Far enough, far enough.
For what? Tell me, for what?
Securities fraud, conspiracy, and most likely manslaughter.
ALAN: It cured me. Forsythia cured me.
We’ll see, Alan.
This is entrapment.
You can’t take my blood. You can’t, that’s my property.
We may never know where this disease came from.
But we do know that this vaccine is the result…
…of the courage and perseverance of a remarkable few.
We shall now begin the drawing. John.
The first MEV-1 vaccination…
…are those people born on March 10th.
We remind all of you to stay 10 feet apart from each other…
…while on line.
[TYPING ON KEYBOARD]
Shouldn’t you be downstairs?
HEXTALL: I’m tracking vaccine batch numbers.
This is what you have to be doing right this minute?
This is what I want to do right this minute.
Take a bow, Ally.
People have for a lot less.
It’s not that hard to give yourself an injection.
What about Mears or my father or you?
I’m gonna take a bow while you get hauled in front of Congress?
What do I say when they ask about that?
You tell them that I told a loved one who told a loved one…
…and that I’d do it again.
Without you-Ally, you have saved millions of lives.
That’s a great story. It also happens to be true.
Now, how often can you say that?
The next citizens to receive the MEV-1 vaccination…
…are those born on the date…
What is that? January 11th.
Okay. All right, 144.
That’s-Ahem. There’s still, uh, 200–
More than 200 birthdays, hon, that haven’t been called, so that’s good.
That’s a good number.
What if they run out?
They’re not gonna run out.
They have enough to keep up with demand. They said that already.
Maybe I’m immune like you and I don’t even need it.
That’s not a chance we’re gonna take.
So instead we lose spring, we lose summer…
…we lose another 144 days that don’t happen again.
Why can’t they invent a shot that keeps time from passing?
MITCH: It’s gonna start getting normal again, Jory.
How do you call this, “fish,” in Chinese?
This is yd.
[SPEAKS IN CHINESE]
This is beautiful.
SUN FENG: It’s time. We have to run. He just landed.
I want you to keep drawing…
…and Assand will come and finish the class, all right?
I’ll see you soon.
SUN FENG: Tsuen Wan Cemetery off the Number 3 Expressway.
It’s close to where you are now. In 15 minutes.
One hundred doses. Nobody from the ministry, no police.
If we see anybody else, any other vehicles, you’ll never see her again.
Yes, I’m fine. Please give them what they ask.
I just wanna go home.
SUN FENG: Once we have the vaccine, we’ll tell you where to find her.
Is it French or American?
We could not get enough from the French.
It’s been made here. The same formula, though.
It is effective, I promise.
There, be careful.
Wait, where is she?
SUN FENG: We don’t know what it is.
Well, we have no choice.
Where is Dr. Orantes?
Now, wait, this is not what we agreed on.
Are you okay?
Yes, I’m fine.
LEOPOLD: Oh, I almost forgot.
The one you took was a placebo.
The Chinese insisted. There have been many abductions, not just here.
In Russia, Mexico, all over.
Government officials, scientists, or Westerners with great wealth.
Mostly perpetrated by organized crime or revolutionary groups…
…trying to extort medicines.
The Chinese don’t negotiate with kidnappers. It wasn’t up to us.
We’ve got a limited supply, just like everyone else.
Where are you going?
[EASY LISTENING MUSIC PLAYING OVER SPEAKERS]
FRENCH: Blood results came back, Mr. Krumwiede.
You never had the virus. You have no antibodies. You lied.
Of course that’s what your labs say.
Forsythia is a lie.
It’s a lie, and you made $4.5 million for telling it.
You wanna blog about that?
You are going to go away, Mr. Krumwiede, and so is all your money.
I can’t even imagine all the civil suits people are gonna file against you…
…and I have a pretty good imagination.
Now you wanna tell people not to get vaccinated…
…when that’s the best chance they’ve got.
If I could throw your computer in jail, I would.
[WHISPERS] Made bail.
Are we done here?
Evidently, there are 12 million other people as crazy as you are.
You made bail. Congratulations.
Cheever and wife. Congratulate Aubrey for me.
I’d shake your hand, but I don’t wanna set a bad example.
Urn, we’re gonna have an official reception when we can get everybody in one place…
…and we really hope you can be with us.
Sure. So are you ready for yours? I’ve got mine.
No, I think she’s gonna wanna do these together.
I know she sprang for some champagne.
They have scheduled the hearings. We’ll both be expected to testify.
Head back, Anthony.
There you go.
I can’t give him the bracelet, but at least you know he’ll be safe.
Yeah, beats waiting another seven months.
Okay, what do you say?
You’re welcome, Anthony.
You know where this comes from, shaking hands?
It was a way of showing a stranger you weren’t carrying a weapon in the old days.
Good job. Now go finish your homework.
You offered your empty right hand to show that you meant no harm.
Oh, I didn’t know that.
I wonder if the virus does.
Well, Dr. Cheever, thanks.
Take care, Roger.
AUBREY: You’re not gonna get in trouble for this, are you?
CHEEVER: Will you be quiet?
AUBREY: My number is 287, Ellis.
If we weren’t married, I’d have to wait almost a year.
Then it’s a good thing we’re married.
Hold your head back.
I don’t wanna give them another reason to go after you.
Will you please be quiet and hold your head back?
Like you said, baby…
…just taking care of everybody that’s in my lifeboat.
[U2’S “ALL I WANT IS YOU” PLAYING]
You say you want
Diamonds on a ring of gold
You say you want
Your story to remain untold
But all the promises we make
From the cradle to the grave
JORY: Dad, are you coming?
I’m just looking for the camera.
You say you’ll give me
A highway with no one on it
Treasure just to look upon it
All the riches in the night
You say you’ll give me
Eyes in a moon of blindness
A river in a time of dryness
A harbor in the tempest
But all the promises we make
From the cradle to the grave
When all I want is you
* * *
Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) is coughing in an airport lounge and gets a call from John Neal, an old acquaintance who she just had sex with. A montage where we see several other people ensues.
A young man in Hong Kong gets off a boat, sweating. He goes home to his family and his sister looks at him concerned.
In London, a model gets sick and goes back to her hotel room. Hotel staff come into the room and find her dead on the bathroom floor.
On a plane, a businessman comes out of the lavatory with a pained expression on his face. He is traveling back home to Tokyo. He is on a bus when he collapses to the floor, convulsing. His death is captured on a camera phone.
The young man from Hong Kong leaves his apartment, coughing near several people in an elevator. He walks the streets, his vision getting more hazy. He walks into traffic and is hit by a truck and killed.
Finally, in Minnesota, Beth comes home to her husband Mitch (Matt Damon) and son Clark (Griffin Kane), hugging them both.
Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) comes into work at the Atlanta-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On the way in, he passes a janitor named Roger (John Hawkes) who he is on friendly terms with due to the football pool they have. Roger asks Cheever about his son since the school thinks he has ADHD. Roger asks if Cheever could look at him but Cheever says he is not that kind of doctor. However, he knows some people so he will try to refer a good doctor to Roger for his son.
Meanwhile, Mitch goes to pick up from Clark from school from what they think is a fever. Mitch tells Clark he will beat it by Thanksgiving.
At a news office a blogger journalist and conspiracy theorist, named Alan (Jude Law), is talking to an editor, named Lorraine, about the Tokyo bus incident. Alan thinks it may have to do with mercury poisoning in fish worldwide. Lorraine says they don’t have the budget for this kind of freelance work but Allen says this story can go worldwide in 24 hours. Lorraine says she will pass it to another editor. Allen tells her he recorded this conversation and if she steals his story he will sue her.
Beth is at home, getting worse. She stares at a cup of coffee and tries to pick it up as Mitch talks about his day. She instead makes it fall off the counter and shatter. Mitch comes to help clean it up, when Beth starts to have a seizure. Mitch is scared, and he sees Clark at the doorway looking at his mother convulsing. Mitch tells him to go upstairs as he calls 911.
At the hospital, Mitch tries to explain what happened and Beth’s allergies when she has another seizure and Mitch is pushed out of the room. A doctor comes to see him later and tells him Beth has just died. Mitch is in shock and asks to talk to her, not computing the news. The doctor tries to explain that his wife might have picked something up in China but there are no health alerts there to match to any of her symptoms. The medical board is going to order an autopsy in order to determine what killed her. Mitch is aghast and screams, “What happened?!”
Mitch is being driven home when he gets a call. His son is sick. He tells the babysitter to call 911. When he gets home, the babysitter says Clark had a headache so she put him to bed. By the time Mitch gets there, it is too late, his son is dead.
In Switzerland, Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard), goes to work at the World Health Organization (WHO). She handles a briefing on this unknown virus and the cases of infection in the U.S., China, London and Japan. She expresses the need for the WHO to be thorough in its investigations. She mentions Beth as being the potential start of the infection.
Back in Hong Kong, the sister of the young man that was infected has his body cremated and goes to take his ashes away for burial via bus. A cleaning lady is checking the bus when she finds the girl dead. Her brother clearly infected her too before he died.
In Chicago, Beth’s lover John Neal is being carried out on a stretcher. He has been infected as well. His wife looks on in shock, wondering what is wrong.
Two medical morticians do the autopsy on Beth, opening up her skull. They notice something strange about her brain. One of the men asks if he should take a sample. “Actually, I want you stand away from the table!” The other technician tells him. The technician tells his partner to call EVERYONE.
Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet) is being briefed by Ellis on her job on the mysterious virus outbreak. She is to investigate and contain cases of infection. If she needs anything she can call him, no questions asked. Erin travels to Minnesota to be transported to a nearby CDC office.
Mitch is taken back to the hospital and put under quarantine watch. His teenage daughter from his previous marriage, Jory Emhoff (Anna Jacoby-Heron), arrives. They talk on a phone. Jory feels guilty of not being there when Clark died, but Mitch says it is not her fault. In addition, if she had been, she could have been infected too. She is all he has left. Mitch tells Jory to go home to her mother, but Jory says she will not leave him. She is staying with him.
Erin gives a briefing about the virus and the precautions they need to take. One woman asks if they are panicking about something they know little of. “We don’t even know what to tell people to be afraid of.” Mears notes that the virus is a contagion of touch. So the littlest things people touch and interact with, including each other, are potential harbors for infection. The problem, Mears says, is the carriers and the number they will potentially infect, the R-naught number. Flu is usually one person. Polio, pre-vaccine, was between four and six. Until they know more, this virus’ R-naught number could be much greater.
Two doctors, Ally Hextall (Jennifer Ehle) and David Eisenberg (Demetri Martin) go into a secure bio lab and look at the samples taken from Beth’s body among others. Hextall says they need to send it to Dr. Ian Sussman (Elliott Gould). Ian is another doctor in a less secure bio medical facility then theirs. He is leaving when he is accosted by Allen about accusations that this virus is being manufactured as a potential profiting scheme by drug companies. Sussman tells him to make an appointment and insults Allen’s journalism saying, “Blogging is graffiti with punctuation.”
Cheever is met at the CDC doors by Homeland Security agents. He is briefed by their liaison, Lyle Haggerty (Bryan Cranston). Homeland Security believes the virus might be a terrorist action as it is the only way terrorists have not tried to kill people. Cheever is intrigued by the theory but unconvinced. Haggerty mentions that someone could try to weaponise the Avian flu but Cheever counters that by saying, “They don’t need to. The birds are doing it for us.”
A news report states that the school Clark attended is being closed after three nurses and two other children die. A panic starts to form.
Mears goes to the AIMM offices where Beth worked. Many interacted with Beth before she left the country for China, so their fears are assuaged by Mears. Mears notes none had direct contact with Beth after she came home. One remembers Eric Barnes, another co-worker, drove her home from the airport. Mears calls him as he is on a bus. She tells him to get off as he is infected. He waits at the stop until Mears arrives with a containment crew.
Meanwhile, Mitch is being asked by a doctor about Beth. Mitch knows little of substance. The doctor asks about her Chicago layover, and if Beth knew anyone there. Mitch mentions that his wife was with John Neal before they married. Realisation hits Mitch. He asks if Neal is infected. The doctor is resistant but eventually nods. Mitch is stunned that his wife was cheating on him with her former boyfriend.
Hextall and Eisenberg give a briefing to Cheever about the virus sample taken from Beth’s body. It latches onto the host cell, taking over completely. The body doesn’t know what to do and the virus continues to attack. They noticed there are traces of bat and pig in the virus DNA code so it mostly originated from an infected bat. Understanding the severity of the issue, Cheever orders Sussman to be shut down and their secure lab is the only place where research will be done. Hextall calls Sussman and reluctantly tells him to shut down and destroy his samples.
Cheever briefs the CDC on the outbreak on cases of the virus worldwide. The numbers of infected reach 80,000+ and could reach as high as 267,000.
Allen continues to blog about the virus and how the government is conspiring with the drug companies to turn a profit on tragedy. He claims that a drug is available to treat the virus, but it is being suppressed by the CDC.
Meanwhile, Dr. Orantes goes to Hong Kong. Her job is to track the movements Beth made while there. Her liaison is Sun Feng who is ambivalent as Hong Kong being the focal point of the viral outbreak but Orantes concludes it is Beth that started it all. After hearing several workers at a casino got sick where Beth attended, Orantes tells Feng to get tapes of the security footage. Feng mentions his rural village where he grew up is infected and his mother is sick.
Meanwhile, Dr. Sussman defies orders and runs some further tests on the virus samples.
Hextall briefs Cheever on Sussman’s findings. He was able to make a stable cultured version of the virus. He was able to do it by growing it in a particular bat cell line they didn’t have. Now that they know what they are up against, they can start developing and testing vaccines. Cheever is outraged that Sussman defied orders. Realizing he might publish his results, Cheever asks what he wants. Hextall says he just wants credit for his work. He could have given the work to drug companies and made a fortune but he gave it to the CDC instead.
The news report on the virus, now called MEV-1 and crediting Sussman for discovering the findings. The news stresses that government states that it will take potentially months for a full vaccine to be ready.
Allen is contacted by a news source. They want him to continue his investigations on MEV-1 and the government’s alleged involvement with the problem. Allen agrees.
Back in Minnesota, still in quarantine, Mitch asks Mears if he is immune since he has not shown any symptoms and he also asks why they cannot use his blood to make a vaccine. Mears tells him even though his intentions are noble, plasma vaccines are tricky and time consuming to make and are not guaranteed to work. Mears then travels to an inside stadium where they will place a triage center. Mears tells her liaison she will need three more locations like it. Mears calls Cheever. Cheever asks if she is fine.
Mitch is at home with Jory when there is a knock at the door. It is a boy Jory likes, Andrew. Andrew has come to pay his respects with flowers for the deaths of Beth and Clark. Mitch says that while he is touched by the gesture, he cannot let him in because he could infect them. Jory is crushed, but Mitch tells her they have to be very careful.
We see security footage of Beth in the Hong Kong casino, enjoying herself with several people. She is playing a casino game when she is asked by a man, the Japanese businessman who died on the bus, to blow on his chip for good luck. She does so.
Mears wakes up in hotel room coughing. She goes into the bathroom and takes her temperature, praying to God that she is not infected. But all her symptoms point to it. She calls the front desk and tells them to track down everyone who serviced her room. Mears calls Cheever and tells him she’s infected. Cheever says he will do everything he can to get her home, but she should stay in her room for now. They hang up and Cheever is stunned that Mears is infected. He sent her there, so he feels responsible.
Meanwhile, Mitch goes to a funeral home and learns that because his wife and son died due to the virus, the funeral home will not accept the bodies for burial. Mitch is shocked but the funeral director says there is nothing they can do. Mitch talks to his mother-in-law and discusses cremation but the mother in law wants her family to be buried together. His mother-in-law said Beth made mistakes by cheating but she did love Mitch. He has to forgive her. Jory texts Andrew, telling him how sad her dad is.
We see more security footage of Beth in the Hong Kong casino. She calls John Neal saying she can get an earlier flight so they can meet up. She accidentally leaves her phone at the bar and a woman picks it up and hands it to her. It was the European model that was found dead in London. We see a table where she had sat and had drinks with several people. A waiter picks up the glasses. It is the young man that later died. That is how Beth infected them both.
Orantes realizes that Beth is “Patient Zero” for the entire outbreak. Orantes asks about Feng’s mother. Feng says she died. Orantes says she is sorry. They go to leave and Feng makes a call. On the way to their destination, Feng pulls her out of the car into a van at gunpoint. He tells her that his village is dying, and he and his friends are going to hold her for ransom for the vaccine doses when they are first produced. Orantes sees the remaining villagers. Most are children.
Cheever attempts to get Mears out of Minnesota but hits roadblocks on every turn. The transport he was going to use is being used for a Congressman, as he learns from Haggerty. After that, all air travel is grounded. Haggerty tells Cheever there are plans in place to quarantine Chicago, but he is to tell no one until the government makes it public. The president is being moved underground, and congress is working online. There is nothing Cheever can do.
Meanwhile, Allen is blogging live. He is apparently sick with the virus. He shows he is taking the homeopathic remedy Forsythia, and dips it into his water and drinks it. He tells his audience that if he is here tomorrow then it worked.
Cheever speaks to his wife Aubrey (Sanaa Lathan) and tells her how bad he feels Mears is going to die and there is nothing he can do. Cheever then tells her to leave Chicago and not tell a soul where she is going. As he hangs up, he sees that Roger was standing there the whole time. Roger is disgusted with Cheever noting everyone has loved ones.
Aubrey goes shopping for supplies when she is called by her friend whom she was supposed to meet for dinner. Aubrey reveals the real reason she can’t come, urging her to not repeat it to anyone.
Around the U.S. people are listening to Allen and are lining up for the drug to suppress MEV-1 that Allen has alleged works. However, demand becomes insatiable and people begin to riot and loot all over the country.
Mitch goes for groceries with Jory in a looted store. A woman coughs nears him and he tells Jory they need to leave. They get to the car without food. They attempt to leave the state but the National Guard is shutting down the roads. Even though they are not infected, no one is getting through. They are forced to turn around and go back home.
Allen has been running around town in a bio suit seeing the destruction and decline of human civilization in the aftermath of the outbreak. He gets home to see Lorraine there, begging for the medicine he says helps, because she is pregnant. Allen says he has none due to a break-in, but he will get her some as soon as possible.
Meanwhile in Minnesota, Dr. Mears is being told she cannot be moved out. She is laying on a cot in a triage center and very close to death. Next to her, a man is complaining of being cold, but the triage center has run out of blankets. Mears attempts to comfort him and give him her coat but cannot reach far enough. It falls right next to her bed as she shudders.
Some hours later, Mears is shown in a translucent plastic bag. She is dead. Her liaison, Dave is nearby, holding flowers, trying his best to pay his respects considering she will be part of a mass grave. Dave notes they ran out of body bags days ago and they attempted to get some from Canada but they were unwilling to help.
Dr. Cheever goes on TV with Dr. Gupta talking about the virus and its implications. Cheever notes coordination is a problem because each state has its own health organization and protocols. Allen is also on via satellite and when it is his turn to speak he goes on the attack, blaming the CDC and WHO for being in bed with the drug companies. Allen surmises that up to 1 billion people could actually be infected and/or die before it is over. He also reveals that Aubrey’s friend posted on Facebook about him warning her to leave Chicago. Cheever cannot respond.
Cheever talks to Haggerty. Haggerty says he has now just become a scapegoat. Furthermore, they have no choice to investigate the claims he leaked sensitive information to his wife. Cheever nods, understanding.
Eisenberg gets an email in the lab. A sample of a mutated strain of the MEV-1 virus has arrived from Africa; this strain is even more deadly. The death toll is rising into the hundreds of thousands all over the continent.
Eisenberg and Hextall begin animal trials with monkeys to test vaccine variants. None work. They wind up bagging up a bunch of dead monkeys.
We see the world practically abandoned at this place. Empty streets, airports, gyms etc. Everyone is staying in, afraid. The end of the world has begun.
We see posters of Allen posted around the cities. One says prophet. The other says Profit (probably signifying he too is in it for the money).
We see a shrine for Lorraine. She and her child died. Allen looks at it stoically. He apparently was unable to get her medicine in time (or possibly did nothing).
Mitch goes for an MRE handout when they announce they have run out. Riots ensue, and Mitch saves a woman from getting her food stolen. Mitch goes home and looks outside. He hears gunshots in his neighbors house. Looters come out holding rifles. They apparently killed the family inside. Mitch tries to call 911, but gets the runaround with an automated message. He hangs up.
Mitch goes around his neighbors to look for them. Finding none, he breaks into one of their homes and steals a shotgun for his and Jory’s protection. When he gets home he sees Jory is gone and notices footprints in the snow moving away from the house. Jory is with Andrew making snow angels. Andrew tries to kiss her saying she is immune and he is healthy so there should be no problem. Just before he does, Mitch comes up and pulls him off her, telling him to go home. He tells Jory to get up and they go home.
Back at the CDC lab, Hextall is talking to Cheever. She notes even with a complete vaccine it would take months for it to be viable for use, and many more would die in the meantime. Hextall notices the monkey treated with vaccine #57 has no symptoms. Vaccine #57 successfully protected the monkey from infection. Deciding to be proactive, she injects herself with the vaccine. She seems to be fine and goes to the hospital to visits her infected father. She refers to the Nobel prize winning research done by Barry Marshall where he intentionally infected himself with H. pylori to prove that stomach ulcers were caused by the bacterium. She tells him she has given herself the vaccine and spending time with him is the test to see whether it may protect humans. Her father cries, proud of his daughter and her work.
We see another news report. The cure has been fast-tracked for approval and production. The first batch can be ready in about 90 days. The current death toll worldwide from the virus is estimated to be 26 million.
Aubrey is at home when it is broken into by looters. They want the MEV-1 Vaccine and think Cheever has it. Aubrey says ‘no’, they had to wait like everyone else. Cheever rushes home just as the looters flee. Aubrey was not killed. Cheever is afraid they touched her (as they are just about to receive the vaccine) but Aubrey denies it.
Allen goes to see his news contact. Allen is still adamant that the vaccine should not be used. He has 12 million people who listen to him every day. Allen sees a garbage man and gets paranoid. He runs off. He was right to do so. His contact sold him out to the police in a sting operation. He is being arrested for securities fraud and manslaughter (probably for Lorraine) among other things.
Haggerty goes on television doing a vaccine lottery. Since they do not have enough yet they will hold lotteries using birthdays to see who gets it first.
Cheever finds Hextall on a computer and tells her to take a break. Hextall says she cannot, not when he is being investigated, Mears died, and her father nearly died treating the sick. She clearly feels she doesn’t deserve all the credit. She had plenty of help.
Back in Minnesota, Mitch and Jory watch the lottery. Her birthday didn’t come up so she is stuck in isolation for 144 days. She relates her woes to Andrew via text messaging.
Back in Hong Kong, in Sun Feng’s village, the captive Orantes has been teaching an art class. Feng pulls her away and tells her that the authorities have caved into his demands and it’s time to make the exchange. They meet the contact on a deserted freeway near Hong Kong. 100 vaccine shots for Orantes. Orantes is finally freed as she leaves with her contact and Feng and his men leave to go back to the village with the vaccines. At the airport, her contact reveals the vaccines they handed over were placebos and he gives her the real one. The Chinese told them to do it. This kind of action has happened a lot lately all over the world with desperate people holding doctors and other VIPs for ransom in order to receive the vaccine, but governments don’t cater to terrorists. Orantes is horrified that they would condemn a village of mostly children to death and runs off… perhaps to catch her flight home, or perhaps back to the village.
Mitch goes to a nearly deserted shopping mall, being stopped at several checkpoints to make sure he is immune by scanning his vaccination bracelet. It is unclear whether he really received the vaccine or simply the bracelet after he was assumed to be immune.
In a police interrogation room, the lead detective tells Allen they looked at his blood work. He was never sick with the virus; he has no antibodies to it. He lied about his condition. And now he has millions of people against the vaccination that could save them, instead using a drug that probably doesn’t work at all. They are going to charge Allen with fraud put him in jail and his money he made ($4.5 million) will be locked away too. The detective says to Allen, “If I could lock up your computer too, I would!” Just then, another cop comes in. Allen apparently has posted bail with help from his millions of followers. A smug Allen leaves the police station, defiant and unapologetic to the end about his actions.
Cheever is presented two doses by Haggerty. One for him, one for his wife. Cheever says his wife will want to do them together. Instead, he gives one to Roger’s son. Cheever explains where shaking hands originated; “It came from showing you didn’t have a weapon in your hand and you meant no harm”. Roger thanks Cheever, then shakes his hand. Cheever puts on the vaccine bracelet to keep the charade going. He goes home and gives the other shot to his wife.
Allen is seen back on the street resuming his video blog of video taping long lines at vaccination centers and then going back to his apartment to make more lies and groundless accusations about the U.S. government being responsible for the origins of the MEV-1 virus for personal profit to his millions of duped Internet followers.
Things finally seem to be slowly getting back under control as worldwide looting and anarchy begins to wear off. The death toll from the outbreak is declining and people are slowly getting back to their regular lives. Hextall and Eisenberg are seen in the lab putting the MEV-1 virus into long-term liquid nitrogen storage next to some other nearly eradicated virus cultures, hopefully never to be seen again.
Jory finds a box in her room from her father telling her to be ready at 8:00 pm. Inside there is a dress. Mitch is in the bedroom, looking for his camera, when he turns it on and sees pictures of Beth during that final business trip that cost her her life. He breaks down crying. Jory goes downstairs and sees her father has made up the living room for a makeshift prom night since she is unable to leave the house yet. The doorbell rings: it is Andrew, who got the vaccine and is now sporting his vaccination bracelet proudly – they can finally be near each other. He is going to be her date for the night. Mitch goes downstairs to take pictures of Jory and Andrew. Mitch watches them dance. In that moment, there is hope for the future.
A final flashback occurs. We finally see what caused the global epidemic. A construction crew from Beth’s company AIMM was cutting down trees in a forest in China. That caused some bats to fly out. One bat was infected with the virus. It grabbed a piece of banana and perched above a pig’s pen. It dropped the banana piece which we are to assume had the virus on it. A pig eats it and is eventually slaughtered at market for food. A chef handles the dead pig, touching the inside of the infected pig’s mouth with his bare hands. He goes out to dining room and poses in a picture with Beth holding hands, transferring the virus to her and starting the chain of events.
An end title states it is Day 1….