Cambridge scientists Clive and Warren were hired to try and isolate the specific neurochemicals that cause anger and excessive aggression in humans in order to develop an inhibitor that regulates anger control issues.
After they successfully developed an inhibitor, Warren believed that delivering widespread with a pill or an aerosol wouldn't do, and decided to use the Ebola Virus as a delivery system. However, within two weeks, several isolated genomes in the Ebola Virus reacted to the inhibitor and mutated, causing the inhibitor to have the opposite effect - instead of inhibiting anger, it caused its hosts to become full of constant, uncontrollable rage - and creating the Rage Virus. (28 Days Later: The Aftermath)
After the Rage Virus developed, Clive quit from the project and informed the Animal Freedom Front about the experimentation on animals out of disgust at what he and Warren had created. (28 Days Later: The Aftermath) A group of activists sent by the AFF later broke into the lab and freed one of the infected chimpanzee test subjects. That chimpanzee attacked and infected one of the activists, who then infected a scientist and the other activists. From them, the Rage Virus spread throughout Great Britain. (28 Days Later (film))
- See main article: Original Outbreak
After the release of the infected chimps from the Cambridge Primate Research Centre, the Rage Virus began to spread throughout Cambridge and eventually the whole of Great Britain. At first, the effects of the Virus were regarded by the media as rioting, (28 Days Later (film), 28 Days Later: The Aftermath) but they were discredited by the public, as the Infected were attacking small villages and market towns as well as cities such as London and Cambridge. (28 Days Later (film))
Eight days after Infection was released, the Prime Minister declared a state of emergency and martial law was imposed. However, the military blockades protecting London and Manchester were overrun by the Infected, causing the remainder of the panicked public that was not already infected to try and evacuate the country. (28 Days Later (film), 28 Days Later: The Aftermath) This exodus ended when, fifteen days after the Rage Virus was released, Great Britain was quarantined by NATO and the UN. (28 Weeks Later)
Within the next thirteen days, British society broke down and Great Britain was overrun by the Infected and destroyed by the Rage Virus. Apart from the few scattered survivors, the rest of the British population were either dead, infected, or had escaped during the exodus. (28 Days Later (film))
After the Original Outbreak, the original Infected gradually began to die from starvation. (28 Days Later (film), 28 Days Later: The Aftermath) Within five weeks - six months after the initial outbreak, nearly all of the Infected in mainland England had died, (28 Weeks Later) although there were still some Infected further north in the mainland (particularly in Scotland) who were more recently infected and had therefore not yet starved to death. (28 Days Later (comic series))
At some point a matter of months after the Original Outbreak, the Rage Virus spread from mainland Britain to Shetland; the island was secretly quarantined by the American military, and the Infection seemed to overrun Shetland. (28 Days Later (comic series))
- See main article: Second Outbreak
After most of the Infected died, the US Army began to repopulate London on the Isle of Dogs, while their forces decontaminated the rest of the city. However, twenty-eight weeks after the Original Outbreak, Alice Harris, an asymptomatic carrier of the Rage Virus, was brought into the safe zone, District One. Alice reunited with her husband, Don, but unknowingly infected him with Rage through a kiss. After killing Alice, the infected Don went on a rampage in District One, infecting or killing anyone he came across and igniting an outbreak of the Rage Virus in the Green Zone. (28 Weeks Later)
As Infection spread throughout District One, the US Army began shooting and killing the Infected, then eventually both Infected and uninfected civilians. The Air Cavalry firebombed District One in an effort to wipe the Rage Virus out, but a large number of Infected survived the firebombing and escaped into the derelict London, respreading the Infection in the city.
When the US Army learned of the presence of surviving Infected in London, they, having not yet given up, began venting chemical gas and sending out soldiers and attack choppers to exterminate the remaining Infected. It is unknown whether or not the Army succeeded. (28 Weeks Later, 28 Days Later (comic series))
Outbreak in France
During the Second Outbreak of Infection in London, Andy Harris - Alice and Don's son - was bitten by his infected father and thus became a Carrier of the Rage Virus like his mother. Andy and his sister, Tammy, then escaped across the English Channel into France via helicopter, (28 Weeks Later, and crashed in or near Paris two days after the destruction of District One. At the time when the trio crashed, the Rage Virus spread to mainland Europe and appeared in Paris. (28 Days Later (comic series))
- "If someone gets infected, you've got between ten and twenty seconds to kill them."
- ―Selena on how quickly the Rage Virus infects and takes over its hosts.[src]
The Rage Virus is spread through the blood and saliva, and is highly contagious to the point that just one drop of infected fluid is enough to infect a host. The Virus is typically transmitted through bites by the Infected, but can also spread through saliva exchange. Other ways Rage can infect a host include an Infected spewing infected blood in a host's face, (28 Days Later (film), 28 Days Later: The Aftermath) or so much as one drop of infected blood getting in a host's eyes or mouth.
Once a host is infected, it will take ten - twenty seconds before they succumb to the Infection. It also appears that the amount of time it takes for the Rage Virus to take over a host depends on the amount of Rage that the host was exposed to; if two mouthfuls of infected fluid are vomited directly into a host's face, they will become infected almost instantly, but if one drop of infected fluid gets into their system through their eyes or mouth, it will take approximately fifteen - thirty seconds before the Virus begins to visibly affect them. (28 Days Later (film)) An infected host may experience painful spasms and uncontrollable twitches and convulsions as the Rage Virus takes over their system, and they will begin to bleed from their eyes and mouth.
Primates like humans and monkeys are apparently the only animals capable of carrying the Rage Virus. It is unknown what would happen to a non-primate animal if it were exposed to the Infection, but it would most likely be unaffected by the Virus.
CharacteristicsAfter a host is infected by the Rage Virus, they suffer spasms in the extremities, (28 Days Later (film), 28 Days Later: The Aftermath) and the Infection also causes capillaries to hemorrhage, (28 Days Later (comic series)) making the host frequently vomit blood and bleed from their eyes and nose. The Infected's eyes also turn scarlet red.
After an infected host succumbs to the Rage Virus, they will suffer from extreme, uncontrollable anger and aggression, and loss of higher intelligence. From that point on, the Infected will seek out and viciously attacks any uninfected person above any other goal else, even self-preservation and self-nourishment. The disease is easily transmissible through any bodily fluid. Because of this extreme contagiousness and very short incubation time, thousands within one area could be infected through one single Infected in under an hour. (28 Weeks Later) The Rage Virus gives those infected heightened mobility and endurance, thus enabling them to quickly rampage through miles and miles of territory and invade entire towns before expiring from lack of self-nourishment. (28 Weeks Later) The Virus seems to change the behaviour of the Infected over time as well, because recently-infected individuals were generally highly active during the day; (28 Weeks Later) but victims of the Infected who had likely been infected for longer were generally more active at night. (28 Days Later (film), 28 Days Later (comic series))
Rage is a recombinant strain of Ebola, and while its psychological symptoms are more like those of Rabies, it does retain some of the physiological symptoms of Ebola (red eyes, internal and external hemorrhaging and bleeding). The Rage Virus is also bloodborne and capable of infecting only primates; characteristics which it presumably retained from the Ebola Virus it mutated from. (28 Days Later: The Aftermath)
Certain people such as Alice and Andy Harris possess a natural immunity to the symptoms of the Rage Virus; if the Virus infects one of these immune people, they will become a carrier of the disease but will remain immune to its effects. Carriers are still capable of infecting others though, as their blood and saliva still carries the Virus, but they will not display any symptoms of Infection themselves except for the left eye's sclera partially turning red.
There were only two known Carriers: Alice Harris and her son Andy (although Dr. Billingsworth's statement that the American black operation in Scotland had found evidence of Carriers would suggest that there were other Carriers besides Alice and Andy); Alice was killed by her infected husband, Don, due to kissing her, and Andy's fate after landing in recently-infected France is unknown.
Scarlet Levy believed that a Carrier's blood could be used to find a vaccine or possibly even a cure for Infection, but Alice was killed by her infected husband and her body incinerated during the Code Red firebombing, and Andy's fate and whereabouts after the Rage Virus spread to France is unknown. (28 Weeks Later)
- The disease is only ever seen being called "Rage" or "the Rage Virus" three times: by the scientist at the start of 28 Days Later; in the sequence after the start of 28 Weeks Later that explains what happened in the Original Outbreak and the following twenty-eight weeks; and in 28 Days Later: The Aftermath, when Clive comments that he and Warren have "created a rage virus". Most of the other times a character mentions it, they simply call it "the Virus", "the Infection", or "Infection".
- It is unknown how the Rage Virus spread to France, and fans have disputed over this. Some believe that after Andy, Tammy and Flynn crashed in France, Andy infected someone else (most likely by accident), and that person then began spreading the Infection in mainland Europe. Some others believe that surviving Infected from the Second Outbreak in London travelled into France through the train tunnels connecting France and Britain (though some fans have discredited this, arguing that the tunnels would have almost certainly been sealed during the Original Outbreak as part of the quarantine to stop Infection from spreading beyond Britain).
- Although it was revealed in 28 Days Later: The Aftermath that the Rage Virus was accidentally created while scientists Clive and Warren were trying to develop an anger inhibitor, in the 28 Days Later comic series, Dr. Billingsworth implied that the Rage Virus was developed as a biological weapon. However, a few fans believe that Billingsworth had merely speculated this based on his research, or that The Aftermath is not canon to the comics.
- It was shown in 28 Days Later: The Aftermath and made apparent in 28 Days Later that the Rage Virus originated in Cambridge. However, in the 28 Days Later comic series, Eliott Muniz stated that it first appeared in London.
- No infected animals other than the infected chimpanzees are ever seen in the 28 Days Later franchise. According to Danny Boyle, this is because primates are the only animals that are capable of carrying the Rage Virus as hosts. This is further supported by the fact that no infected animals other than chimps have been seen, and the fact that Infection is a strain of Ebola, which infects primates. Also, in 28 Days Later, a crow was shown to be pecking at an infected soldier's corpse, and did not appear to become infected from consuming the corpse's blood which was carrying the Virus.
- While the psychological symptoms of Rage are similar to those of Rabies, most of the physiological symptoms resemble those of Ebola. The latter is likely because (according to 28 Days Later: The Aftermath) the Rage Virus is a mutated strain of the Ebola Virus.
- An alternative scene in 28 Days Later depicted that Rage can be cured through a complete blood transfusion from an uninfected individual. The Worsley House was originally supposed to be the lab where the Virus was developed. In this scene, the infected Frank was to be saved by having his infected blood replaced with Jim's uninfected blood. The scene was cut due to realism issues, as Danny Boyle and Alex Garland were unable to concieve a plausible explanation for this "cure" due to the establishment of the fact that a single drop of fluid carrying Rage is capable of infecting a host.
- The Flood from the Doctor Who episode The Waters of Mars share several similarities with the Rage Virus; both take over a host within seconds of exposure, causing the host to spasm as they do so. Also, both Rage and the Flood cause their hosts' eyes to change colour, and both viruses cause their hosts to exhude a liquid containing the virus from their mouths.
- Strangely, most of the physiological symptoms of the Rage Virus do not appear to be as severe in chimpanzees as in humans; while infected humans are constantly bleeding from their eyes, nose and mouth, infected chimps do not appear to bleed from their eyes or nose, and apparently vomit blood less regularly than humans. Also, while infected chimps do possess the uncontrollable rage towards the uninfected found in humans, at least one chimp was shown to clap sadistically as another infected chimp attacked a human, suggesting that infected chimps retain at least some sadistic thought processing. This would also suggest that the symptoms of Infection are milder in infected chimps than in humans. Some fans believe that this was shown in Donald Harris as well, who, when infected, appeared to express pleasure in seeing the uninfected suffer, and showed cunning and stealth usually devoid in infected humans.
- Though uncomfirmed, it has been speculated by a few that the amount of time it takes the Rage Virus to take over an exposed host could depend upon the person's emotional state.
- The Rage Virus is shown to be able to infect and take over a host within seconds; but in real life, it would be impossible for a virus to cause such large and virulent symptoms within such a short amount of time, however fast-acting it is.
- Some fans believe that the heterochromic eye colour of Alice and Andy Harris (the only two known Carriers) was linked to their natural immunity to the symptoms of the Rage Virus; some have pointed out that Scarlet Levy stated a genetic abnormality was probably the source of the immunity, and have suggested that the said abnormality responsible for Andy and Alice's immunity to the Infection's effects was probably the same one responsible for their heterochromic eye colour.
- Though Alice and Andy Harris are the only two known Carriers, in the 28 Days Later comic series, Dr. Billingsworth was aware of the existence of Carriers (as according to him, the black operation he was part of had found evidence that some people were naturally immune to the symptoms of Infection), implying that there are other Carriers besides Alice and Andy.