PBS to air The Virus That Shook the World, April 26-27


NEW YORK – PBS will be airing tonight, April 26, and tomorrow night on FRONTLINE, at 9 p.m. EST (check local listings), a two-part documentary special chronicling the first year of the pandemic through the eyes of people all across the globe.

The documentary, filmed in 21 countries, features extensive personal video and local footage from award-winning filmmaker James Bluernel (Exodus, Once a Time in Iraq). The film shows how responses to the disease have now killed more than 3 million people across cultures, races, faiths, and privileges, how various governments have responded, and how the pandemic has exposed existing inequities and social problems.

“What COVID-19 did was reveal what kind of society we are,” says one of the people featured in the film, Carlos Vladimir Rodríguez Valencia, who works for the mayor’s office in Bogotá, Colombia, and has spent the pandemic distributing food to people in need. “It showed the level of poverty. And brought many things to the surface. The people’s anger. The lack of opportunities. The lack of trust towards institutions. Now, it’s all been intensified by COVID.”

The special also explores how not every death linked to the COVID pandemic has been from the disease itself. The crew meets a family in Kenya whose young son was fatally shot on their balcony by police enforcing a COVID curfew.

“He used to tell me when he grows up, and the whole world will know [who] he is. … But I didn’t know it would be like this. I wanted them to know him as a grown man, I mean as a grown-up, with a family, and not dead,” says Khadija Abdulahi Hussein about her son, Yasin Hussein Moyo.

By juxtaposing the experiences of different people around the world throughout the first year of the pandemic, The Virus That Shook the World offers a unique panoramic view of how the coronavirus has created ripples of profound loss, restructured how people across the world live their lives, and raised tough questions about where we go from here.

Part one of The Virus That Shook the World premieres tonight, Mon. April 26, at 9/8c on PBS stations (check local listings), and will be available to stream on their website, the PBS Video App, and YouTube.

The story continues tomorrow night, Tue., April 27, at 10/9c. You can RSVP now.

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