A team of researchers from Aalto University in Finland did just that. They used a mathematical model to simulate how a zombie virus would spread across Helsinki, the country’s capital city, and how different interventions could affect the outcome.
Their model was unique because it accounted for the movements and interactions of individual people and zombies, both inside and outside the city.
They also considered different scenarios, such as how fast the zombies were, how long it took for people to turn into zombies after being bitten, and how effective the authorities were at containing the outbreak.
The results were not very reassuring. According to their simulation, even a single zombie infection in Helsinki (population 673,011) would lead to the whole city being overrun by zombies in just 7 hours. And it would only take a few days for the zombies to spread across the entire country.
“The speed of the epidemic surprised me,” said Professor Pauliina Ilmonen, the lead author of the study. “It made me think about ethical issues, such as the rights of individuals versus the rights of a population.”
The study was not only a fun exercise for zombie fans, but also a useful tool for understanding the dynamics of real epidemics. The researchers said that their model could help assess the impact of different measures, such as lockdowns, quarantines, vaccinations, and social distancing, on the spread of infectious diseases.
“The zombie plague simulation offers a way to explore the effects of different interventions and consider them in the context of diseases with different features, such as how quickly they spread or how severe they are,” the researchers wrote.
“It also allows us to explore how misinformation could affect the outcome of an epidemic, for example, by having some people ignore the warnings or deny the existence of zombies,” they wrote.
The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.