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The film is set in the years 2009 and 2012. It opens in the fall of 2009 with a television news broadcast featuring Doctor Alice Krippin (Emma Thompson), who claims that she has created a cure for cancer with a 100% success rate. Dr. Krippin says that the cure was created by altering the measles virus. In September 2012, U.S. Army virologist, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Neville (Will Smith) is left as the last healthy human in New York City and possibly the entire world. A series of flashbacks and recorded news broadcasts reveal that the genetically re-engineered measles virus (referred to as K.V. or Krippin virus) mutated into a lethal airborne strain that spread worldwide and killed 5.4 billion people (90% of humanity). Of the 600 million survivors, only 12 million people possessed a natural immunity to the virus.