Pakistani-American Woman Featured in Netflix Documentary "Pandemic"

Dr. Syra Madad, Pakistani-American head of New York City’s Health and Hospitals System-wide Special Pathogens Program, is featured in a 6-part Netflix documentary series "Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak". She had warned of a deadly pandemic in December, 2019, just days before China reported to the World Health Organization that it was treating dozens of patients for a novel virus of unknown origin.  We now know it as coronavirus or Covid-19. The series debuted in January 2020, but recent events have pushed it into Netflix’s “Top 10 in the U.S. Today.”

Dr. Madad says the novel coronavirus is "about 10 times more virulent than seasonal flu". “Whether it is somebody you come into contact with or touching door handles or something that’s a high touch surface,” she says. “We want to make sure we are applying everyday measures.”

Both COVID-19 coronavirus and the flu can be transmitted through water droplets in coughs or sneezes. However, tiny particles of COVID-19 may linger longer in the air even after the infected person leaves the room. It can also linger on different types of surfaces: up to one day on cardboard, and up to three days on wood and stainless steel, according to experts who have studied COVID-19.
Dr. Syra Madad

The cast of “Pandemic” includes government officials such as Dr. Dennis Carroll, director of the Emerging Threats Unit of USAID, to physicians in locations as far-flung as Oklahoma and India. It also features San Francisco researchers looking for a universal flu vaccine.

The series opens with a US government official standing in a field north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, last fall beside a mass grave dating back to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that killed 50-100 million people. It then moves to a scene showing Dr. Syra Madad leading a simulation exercise of New York City's response to a future hypothetical outbreak.

Dr. Syra Madad, 34, is a devout Muslim. The Netflix series shows her praying at her home in Long Island, New York. She says, "I live and breathe being a Muslim. It shapes my daily life. I don't drink I don't eat meat that's not halal.....I do no harm and I help others".

Dr. Madad takes breaks to say her prayers at the Islamic Center of New York University. Before entering the prayer room, Madad stops to perform wudu, and washes her mouth and face as well as her feet, according to a Washington Post report.

Dr. Syra Madad Speaking at NIH, Islamabad, Pakistan

The last time she visited Pakistan was in August 2018. She took time out to speak at the National Institute of Health, Islamabad, on Emergency Preparedness and Response to Public Health Emergencies, like Ebola and CCHF outbreaks.

On December 27th 2019, Dr. Syra Madad co-wrote a Washington Post op ed with Ronald A. Klain, former White House Ebola response coordinator in Obama Administration, warning lawmakers that a vital federal program to fight deadly pandemics was set to expire in May of 2020 and urged Congress to renew funding for the system that helps keep Americans safe from a sudden epidemic. “Failure to act would be penny-wise but pound-foolish,” it read. “The day will come when a dangerous pathogen will arrive in the United States once again.”  A few days later, the government in Wuhan, China, reported to the World Health Organization that it was treating dozens of patients for a novel virus of unknown origin. We now know it as coronavirus or Covid-19. It has caused a deadly pandemic that is raging around the world with devastating consequences.

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