COVID-19 destroyed many families and businesses all over the world. Now that some places and vaccines offer a certain gleam of hope towards the future and out of the Corona pandemic – what is next? Will maybe a zombie apocalypse like in The Walking Dead, Resident Evil or The Last of Us strike humanity in the future?
Will there be a zombie apocalypse in the future?
Hopefully not but the possibility can definitely not be excluded. Looking at the current Corona pandemic, it serves as a perfect example on how the rise of the undead might look like in real life. But this has also been present way before our time. Take, for example, the Black Death, a plague pandemic in the mid 14th century that hit Europe and parts of Africa hard. Especially England was influenced heavily, when almost 40% of all English population was killed due to the Black Plague. This pandemic was caused by bacteria, unlike the Spanish flu or COVID-19, which both were caused by a virus.
History thus proves that a pandemic is possible spontaneously at any time due to any origin. Experts also claim, that due to climate change and other factors, pandemics might occur even more often in the future, since this was also to some extent cause of the SARS-CoV-1 and 2.
What would the zombie germ look like?
About a zombie apocalypse outbreak causing pathogen can only be speculated, but speculations can get quite clear. As we learned from previous pandemics, pathogenic agents can spread quickly in any form, may it be bacterial or viral.
A more probable cause, however, could be fungus spores. Unlike most bacteria and virus, spores are way more likely to survive when exposed. As seen, for example, with the SARS-CoV-2, being outside (especially in summer times) minimizes danger of an infection by a lot as it cannot properly survive non-organic room exposure for a long time. Spores on the other hand can, under the right circumstances, survive and spread easily through air – almost like pollen.
A good example for visualizing these kinds of outbreak origins are the The Last of Us video game series, where the fungus is also directly seen and picked out as a central theme. In the Backfire book series on the other hand, life is shown without knowledge of the spore origin, but it also depicts the quick and easy spread, though slightly different.
How could a germ create a zombie?
A very well depiction of how a zombie virus, bacterium or spore could cause an apocalyptic outbreak is depicted well in the video game Days Gone and the TV and comic series The Walking Dead. In the latter, for example, in one episode a doctor explains and shows in X-ray, how such a germ would look and work like.
In this example, the germ is being breathed as it lives in the air. Then, it waits for the host (here: human body) to die and then it cultivates around the brain stem, being capable of slightly reactivating only this part of the brain by electric impulses. While of course being ficion, this theory is not too far fetched.
The human brain stem plays a major role in connecting the body to the brain. If only it would be active, a human body might be able to move – almost instinct-driven – but without any information about identity or memories left.
Since the spores might spread fast and survive and stay airborne, people could be infected by just breathing in small portions of it. How such a germ would affect a human body before death and reanimation, can only be speculated.
Why would a zombie apocalypse be more devastating than COVID-19?
The huge difference between a zombie apocalypse causing virus, bacterium or fungus over the Corona pandemic is, that dead people would come back alive and kill others. Just imagine: What if the illness caused by that would have similar symptoms like the Corona disease? Imagine people dying at home or in the hospital, then surprisingly reanimating and killing loved ones or doctors, who then would also reanimate.
Due to the factor of reanimation, the dying rate would be much higher and way quicker. Depending on how this would be treated and how fast measures would be taken, it could be either contained or wipe out huge parts of humanity within a short period of time.
Some opinions go as far as to say that over 99% of human population would be wiped out within the first seven days of the initial global outbreak. This might not be true at all. It can, however, be assumed that it would be the gravest pandemic of all time.
What would be the source of an outbreak?
The possible origin of a zombie apocalypse can only be highly speculative. Similar to the Corona pandemic, it might originate in consuming animals in combination with the cause of climate change. Another possibility, though way too unlikely and way too conspiracy theorical, would be the “escape” out of a biological research facility.
What can instead be considered as way more probably is a cause from outer space. Humanity knows almost nothing about what to find outside the planet Earth. Who knows, maybe one day, a meteorite introduced such a microorganism to our world? Probably not though.
Should I be afraid of a zombie apocalypse any time soon?
It is like with everything in everyday life: You never know what happens. Anything could happen anytime – but it’s way more likely that it won’t. So go out there and live your life!
At the moment, almost every society is still heavily influenced by the Corona pandemic. We are getting closer and closer to ending it and returning to normality, but I truly hope, that humanity has learned from it. Governments will have to pay more attention in the future, so that concepts exist that prevent such a large-scale pandemic from happening. Also people, individuals have to take from it to be more focussed on others, pay more attention and just generally be more considerate and thoughtful.
If it would break out though: How can I survive a zombie apocalypse?
If that were to happen, there would be tons of possibilites. Maybe that’s a topic for another time though. If you want to see, how a group of young survivors dealt with that fictional situation though, make sure to check out the Backfire short novel series right now!
Stay healthy and read you all soon.