Indonesians are stoked that their country was represented in the globally popular TV series The Last of Us (despite the not-so-positive portrayal) that even our government is talking about the show.
(SPOILERS AHEAD for The Last of Us Episode 2, “Infected”)
The latest episode of HBO’s post-apocalyptic series, which was adapted from the groundbreaking PlayStation video game, opens with an exploration of the deadly fungal outbreak in 2003. Veteran Indonesian actress Christine Hakim plays a mycologist named Ratna from Universitas Indonesia (the University of Indonesia, UI) who was asked by the military to examine a strange cordyceps infection in the outskirts of Jakarta.
Having learned that people who were infected by the mind-controlling fungus had not been contained, a horrified Ratna tells the military to bomb the city and asks to be driven home to her family as she correctly feared that a global outbreak was nigh.
Cordyceps, of course, is real and has been documented to make zombies out of insects. There is no concern yet that the fungus will pose a parasitical threat to humans.
Just in case anyone’s still worried, Indonesia’s Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin today told the House of Parliament (DPR) in an official meeting that the country is better guarded against future pandemics.
“You can see in the HBO film about a global fungus outbreak that began in Jakarta. The next pandemic may be caused by fungi,” Budi said.
The minister noted that the government increased its genome sequencing capability from 800 samples per week before the COVID-19 pandemic to 2,700 samples per week after the pandemic.
“Genome sequencing is essential in identifying our threats, be it bacteria, viruses, or fungi,” he said.
Let’s just hope we can do more than just identify strains of deadly fungi when worse comes to worst. To give credit where it’s due, the government’s handling of COVID-19 in the country, despite early wobbles, should give us some minor confidence that we’ll be safe in a Last of Us-esque scenario.
At any rate, couldn’t the show have picked out better stock footage for Jakarta?