Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I was watching 28 Days Later on TV the other night, and things were going fine. Animal rights activists break into a lab performing experiments on chimpanzees. Got it. Activists become infected by the chimps. Okay. 28 days later, after the lab break-in, a bike messenger awakens from his coma to pad around a deserted hospital... well... there's no residual nervous system deficit of any kind after waking up from a coma? I guess that's kinda alright... he is cute in a little boy way, which means I'll keep watching. Fights, chasing, killing people infected with the virus. Yay!

He runs quite well for someone fresh from a coma(1).
Apparently the bloggers at (un)Death-Match also noticed
discrepancies with the hospital scenes.

So where did the record-scratch-of-outrageousness come in for me? Right after Selena (Naomie Harris), a fellow plague refugee tells the cute boy, Jim (Cillian Murphy), that you only have 20 to 30 seconds between the time this Rage virus enters your body and when you start up on a killing rampage yourself. Thirty seconds, really? The only other virus that works that fast is the Andromeda Strain! I bet the Rage virus was synthesized by aliens and provided to the chimp lab for testing.

After a person is infected with a pathogen, be it bacteria or virus, there is a period of time wherein the patient's body is trying to defend itself and the pathogen is trying to overwhelm the body's defenses. The period between infection and presentation of signs and symptoms of disease is called an incubation period.

Here are some incubation periods for famous diseases:
Smallpox: 7-17 days
Swine Flu and Influenzas at large: 1-4 days with an average of 2 days
Polio: 6-20 days with a range of 3-35
Ebola: 2-21 days
Genital Warts: 2 to 3 months

Incubation period for Rage virus: 20-30 seconds, based on anecdotal evidence.

Incubation takes time. As stated in earlier posts, viruses use host cells to replicate and viral replication can't take only seconds because cells can't crank out proteins, enzymes, and new viruses that fast. Once they do, those new viruses have to get to your brain and infect a bunch of neurons, in order to change someone's behavior.

Sometimes people seem to confuse the actions of
microbes with the actions of chemicals. Chemicals (like alcohol) just have to get to your brain cells and bind with them or alter their structure to change your behavior. Viruses have to infect brain cells and start replicating, which takes a lot longer.

Did I get over the moment? Sure I did. But 28 Days isn't as good as Daybreakers, in my humble opinion.

1. The guy on fire runs quite well for someone consumed by flames.