John Oliver examines how the next pandemic could happen

John Oliver (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
John Oliver (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images) /

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver returned on Sunday and the season 8 premiere picked up right where the show left off in discussing a pandemic. But John Oliver didn’t take a hard look at this pandemic but instead the likelihood of another pandemic on the horizon.

Like the rest of late night television in 2020, Last Week Tonight became a remote operation due to quarantine and lockdown precautions. Oliver dedicated more and more of his time covering the novel coronavirus pandemic and its economic, social, and health effects.

These were some of Last Week Tonight‘s best episodes of season 7 and Oliver’s perspective routinely drove the conversation around COVID-19 for days after air. Fans were anticipating this weekend’s season premiere to hear what Oliver had to say about where we are in the pandemic.

Instead, Oliver’s main story took a hard look at the next pandemic. The causes of another global health crisis were examined as well as what we can do to avoid it.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver identifies what could cause the next pandemic

As usual, John Oliver does his best to quickly get his audience up to speed while dispelling some misconceptions. He does this regarding COVID-19 and other zoonotic diseases by devoting a large portion of the piece to bats.

Last Week Tonight isn’t the first late night show to take a closer look at bats and their role in the pandemic. Real Time with Bill Maher used bats as an entry point to comment on Chinese wet markets and American factory farms. Bill Maher was an early voice in connecting how humans treat and interact with animals to COVID-19.

Oliver picked up the conversation last night on his show, warning that “erasing the buffer between civilization and wildlife.” It is the first big thing we’re doing that could bring about the next pandemic, says Oliver.

Deforestation, exotic animal ownership, and wet markets become focal points for Oliver. The late night host explains how these practices have increased the risk of diseases spreading from animals to humans, making pandemics increasingly more likely.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on how to avoid the next pandemic

The solution to preventing a pandemic isn’t as easy as ending deforestation and banning things like exotic animal ownership and wet markets. John Oliver is realistic about the problem and acknowledges that “draconian measures are just not going to work.”

Instead, Oliver says that small ideas around the world will be more effective. The problem is getting the world on board with long-term spending to address the problem.

Last Week Tonight counters this argument by citing the cost of COVID-19 in the U.S. and comparing it to the cost of preventative measures. The math works out in Oliver’s favor as he emphatically declares that “it’s f-ing worth it.”

Oliver ends the segment by encouraging everyone to remember how they feel now even once we’re on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic. The lessons learned over the past year could be crucial in preventing another global health crisis and Last Week Tonight is doing its part to make sure everyone is paying attention.

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What did you think of the season premiere of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.