World War Z Author Weighs in on Coronavirus Panic

Whenever news starts to emerge of any sort of virus spreading at a global level, comparisons begin to a number of apocalyptic corners of pop culture, with the recent spread of COVID-19/coronavirus resulting in World War Z author Max Brooks hosting an impromptu Reddit AMA to address the similarities between how the virus is currently being handled as compared to the fictional zombie outbreak in his book. As compared to other narratives featuring a zombie apocalypse, Brooks' novel is rooted much more in the human response to the growing threat, using a variety of perspectives and situations to address the spread of a deadly outbreak.

“I think the coronavirus is as dangerous as we allow it to be. This is not the end of the world, but we need to take it seriously, implement measures to curb the spread, marshal the resources of government and industry behind a vaccine and treatment," Brooks shared. "As regular citizens, we need to think about what we can do: social distancing, washing hands, avoiding crowds, and for God’s sake, stay home if you’re sick! We can’t just think about 'can I get it?,' we need to think about 'who can I infect?' We have the power to turn this around, but we need to make the right choices.”

Part of Brooks' novel includes governments from around the world denying the severity of the threat, which included the book being censored in China due to its depiction of their denial. The author pointed out that it wasn't so much a criticism of the country as it was a representation of the tendency of humans to downplay threats.

“I think human beings are slow to realize a threat. We instinctually want to deny danger," Brooks pointed out. "It’s an ego-defense mechanism. The problem is, if you deny too much, and are caught unprepared, panic sets in. I think we’ve been gutting our global health institutions for too long. In rich countries like the USA, we now take public health for granted. We don’t have that gut-churning fear our grandparents used to have when Polio and other diseases raged through the population. This, hopefully, could be a wakeup call for us to spend the necessary money to reinforce our public-global health networks. I’m just so sorry that this wakeup call is coming too late for people who are already sick.”

While it will take more than extreme firepower to combat the threat, Brooks noted that the world does have the necessary forces required to keep the current pandemic at bay.

“We’ve come such a long way. Even now, we’ve got armies, literally, of dedicated public health professionals fighting this world war," the author shared. "We can do our part to help them. That’s why, in WWZ, there’s no one hero. Everyone has a role to play. Just like now. No matter what country you’re in, check in with your local public health department. Check in with WHO. Follow the guidelines. Do what you can, from social distancing to hygiene, to help slow the spread. This is so solvable, as long as we all do our part.”

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