Here’s what the books that “predicted” the Covid-19 coronavirus actually say

21st Feb 2020

Claim

Two authors predicted the coronavirus decades before the outbreak.

Conclusion

A 1980s sci-fi novel describes a disease called “Wuhan-400” that bears little similarity to the new Wuhan coronavirus. A book of “prophecies about the end of the world” written in 2008 predicted that a pneumonia-like illness would spread across the world in the year 2020.

The Daily Star has claimed that two authors predicted the outbreak of the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China.

A number of Facebook posts have implied the same.

One of the books mentioned is “The Eyes of Darkness”, a science fiction novel written by Dean Koontz and published in 1981.

The book references a fictional “biological weapon” called “Wuhan-400” that was designed to kill people but inadvertently gives one child psychic abilities.

The real coronavirus in Wuhan (technically known as “SARS-CoV-2”, which causes the disease now known as “Covid-19”) and this fictional weapon have little in common, bar that they both have some association with the Chinese city of Wuhan. In the book, the fictional disease was developed at “labs outside the city of Wuhan”. The real outbreak of Covid-19 is believed to have originated in the city.

As we’ve written about before, there’s no evidence that Covid-19 was artificially created, or originated from a lab.

Other characteristics of “Wuhan-400” don’t match Covid-19. The book says that “Once infected, no one lives more than twenty-four hours” and that its “kill-rate is one hundred percent”, something that is not true of Covid-19, which has a fatality rate of around 2%.

The book also says that it “afflicts only human beings” and that “no other living creature can carry it”, while Covid-19 is believed to have crossed over into humans from bats, possibly via a third animal. And Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, while the book’s disease affects the brain stem, where it “begins secreting a toxin that literally eats away brain tissue like battery acid dissolving cheesecloth.”

The other book the Daily Star mentions is called “End of Days: Predictions and prophecies about the end of the world” co-written by “psychic and spiritual teacher” Sylvia Browne, and published in 2008.

It claims: “In around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and the bronchial tubes and resisting all known treatments.”

It’s worth noting that, while there is not yet a vaccine for the Covid-19 coronavirus, the human immune system does fight the disease. As noted, most victims survive. Trials of vaccines and other potential treatments are currently underway.

It’s also worth noting that this prediction was made just a few years after the (closely related) SARS outbreak, and that it comes amidst some of the book’s other health predictions—which include claiming a cure for “paralysis and Parkinson’s disease [will be found] no later than 2012”, and the assertion that “blindness will become a thing of the past by 2020”.

We aim for our fact checks to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible. If you think we've made an error or missed some relevant information, please email team@fullfact.org.

Was this page useful to you? Yes No