Adapted from Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name, The Andromeda Strain was written by the author when he attended Harvard Medical School and is a semi-accurate description of the necessary precautions when dealing with biohazards.
The film is set in the U.S. Southwest in 1971 when all but two inhabitants of a small New Mexico town are killed when a satellite crashes to earth. The satellite, scientists learn, is carrying a deadly extraterrestrial pathogen. The scientists whisk the satellite and the survivors to an underground facility to determine the nature of the virus.
According to epidemiologist and chief medical officer for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Dr. Alfred DeMaria, who I heard speak last fall before the cinematic presentation at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, the film’s underground facility is no different than the BioSafety Level 4 facility that Boston University is currently constructing. The only difference? The BU facility lacks a nuclear security system.