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Vol. 24 - Num. 94

Special Articles

Epidemics and pandemics: a trip from Hippocrates to Hollywood

Javier González de Diosa, José M.ª Eiros Bouzab

aServicio de Pediatría. Hospital General Universitario de Alicante. Departamento de Pediatría. Universidad Miguel Hernández. ISABIAL-Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria y Biomédica. Alicante. España.
bServicio de Microbiología. Hospital Universitario Río Hortega y Facultad de Medicina. Universidad de Valladolid. Valladolid. España.

Correspondence: J González. E-mail:

Reference of this article: González de Dios J, Eiros Bouza JM. Epidemics and pandemics: a trip from Hippocrates to Hollywood. Rev Pediatr Aten Primaria. Rev Pediatr Aten Primaria. 2022;24 [en prensa].

Published in Internet: 11-05-2022 - Visits: 488


The History of Medicine and the stories around epidemics and pandemics should serve to learn from previous experiences in such difficult times. The 10 largest pandemics in history prior to COVID-19 have left us a series of lessons with four main characters: starting with Yersinia pestis, and then three viruses: smallpox, flu and coronavirus.

Cinema allows us to travel from reality to fiction, and we have evidence of this by reviewing 27 films about epidemics and pandemics throughout the history of the seventh art. Of these, six plot films can be “prescribed”: Arrowshmith (John Ford, 1931), Philadelphia (Jonathan Demme, 1993), Outbreak (Wolfgang Petersen, 1995), 22 ángeles (Miguel Bardem, 2016), 93 days (Steve Gukas, 2016) and, especially, Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011).

In this trip from Hippocrates to Hollywood (from science to art) in the context of epidemics and pandemics, we have some some lessons learnt: 1) History shows us two realities from previous epidemics and pandemics: their severity and their recurrence over time; 2) Cinema shows us two future assumptions of epidemics and pandemics: its apocalyptic vision and its limited positivity when reflected on the big screen. And this is how the cinema acts as a vaccine, since it exposes us in small repeated doses to the emotions and reflections that epidemics and pandemics cause us; and this in order to gain knowledge, prudence and resilience against these entities.


Cinema Education Epidemics History Paediatrics Pandemics



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