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Aficionados of futuristic horror films will no doubt have watched Contagion, which was released scarily enough on 9/11 in 2011. No doubt at the time they will have wondered whether anything that terrible could really happen in the safe environments the developed world has come to take for granted. Less than 10 years later they had their answer.

Much of the fear-inducing content of Contagion relates to mortality and mayhem — a situation that would certainly have been our own Covid-19 experience if the coronavirus had been as lethal as Ebola and as infectious as the Omicron variant. But there are other deeply unpleasant features of pandemics we’ve only discovered over the past couple of years and which did not form part of the Hollywood version of things: the enforced separation of families stranded on opposite sides of the globe, the meltdown of the hospitality and travel sector, and the implosion in the office rental business are obvious examples...

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