How COVID is similar to a zombie apocalypse

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Author Max Brooks knew what a disastrous pandemic would look like in the United States more than decade ago.

His take on the zombie apocalypse, "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War," hit shelves back in 2006 and was made into a movie starring Brad Pitt in 2013. The plot of "World War Z," which starts with a "Patient Zero" in China who triggers a viral outbreak that spreads to the U.S. during an election year, is at times eerily similar to the coronavirus pandemic – and Brooks knows it.

"The problem is, I wasn't trying to predict anything," Brooks, 47, told USA TODAY. "I was just looking back into history. The history of disaster tends to follow a pretty predictable cycle. There tends to be denial, and then the longer the denial goes, you can almost predict the severity of the panic that will follow. That's with everything."

Brooks wrote “World War Z” after studying widespread diseases like the Black Death and influenza. He also noted similarities between the coronavirus and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. 

The resemblances between Brooks' take on the zombie apocalypse and today's COVID-19 outbreak are there, too. 

"I'm not some prophet-genius," Brooks said. "I'm just a guy who looks at history. And history follows very predictable patterns. This is the pattern; I just zombified it." 

In his novel, for example, the virus begins in China and spreads around the world. False hope is peddled in the form of medication (the FDA has already ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to stop selling fake coronavirus cures) and eventually there's a Great Panic, when people realize the spread of the zombie virus is out of control.

"We are facing a combination of incompetence and cowardice and blatant lies," he said. "Because the narrative is, 'We were caught completely unaware,' which is not true at all. The master plans are sitting right here on my shelf, including a master plan for pandemic, which not only was developed by our own government, but which is open-source. It's supposed to be read by our citizens." 

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