INFECTED

In the four-part documentary series INFECTED, scientists from the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Belgium search for answers to vitally important questions about healthcare and disease control.
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Documentary - Science & Technology, Human Interest & Society , Current Affairs & Politics

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Episode 1: The Many-Tailed Snake

In 2014, in West Africa, there was an outbreak of Ebola, a highly infectious haemorrhagic fever, and it took until 2016 to overcome it. More...

In 2014, in West Africa, there was an outbreak of Ebola, a highly infectious haemorrhagic fever, and it took until 2016 to overcome it. Public health organisations and health workers across the world immediately realised that another major pandemic was inevitable and concerns arose as to whether the world was ready to deal with it.

It was a wakeup call, also to the authorities of Belgium. The government subsequently asked a number of scientists, including researchers at the ITM, to draw up a plan of action, should the worst come to worst.

Thanks to their research and the expertise they have built up dealing with Ebola outbreaks in Congo over
the past 40 years, ITM researchers were ideally suited to this arduous task. But when the next Ebola outbreak occurred, in Mbandaka in Congo in 2018, the Belgian policymakers turned out to have lost much of their earlier sense of urgency. The appointed researchers nevertheless continued to work diligently. ‘I felt a bit like a soldier being dropped unarmed into a war zone.’

In this episode we follow infectious disease specialist Erika Vlieghe, internist Johan van Griensven and virologist Kevin Ariën. They continued their research despite the waning attention. Learning a lesson from the devastating 2014 outbreak, Johan and Kevin founded the Outbreak Research Team, which immediately responded to the 2018 Ebola outbreak. Erika used the limited resources she had available to her to develop small-scale scenarios and exercises to help us cope should an outbreak occur in Belgium.

And then the Covid-19 pandemic struck and we all experienced first-hand how unprepared we still were for such a crisis.

Documentary
Geronimo
2021
Canvas
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