Viral Myths and Biopolitical Disruptions Amidst the Emergence of a Novel Coronavirus
Since 2012, a novel coronavirus named Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, or MERS-CoV, has infected 491 people and killed 147 in 18 countries— a case fatality rate of almost 30%—twice as high as the 2003 SARS pandemics. An incomplete understanding of its epidemiological and ecological nature has left scientists racing against the clock—but is that all to the story of emerging infectious diseases? This analysis seeks to investigate the hidden narratives amid the dominant epidemiological discourses—of human interdependence rather than of biological susceptibility—through the counter-authoritative framework of “viral myths”. I will explore discourses in obscuring viral nomenclatures, the biopolitics of insecurity, the commodification of intellectual property rights, and their respective public health implications, which hurtles us toward an embodiment of both molecularized and globalized precarity. This heterogeneous collection of “viral myths” amid the MERS outbreaks serves as a microcosm for past, present, and future infectious diseases.