Stanley Johnson did write a novel called ‘The Virus’

27 October 2020
What was claimed

Boris Johnson’s dad Stanley wrote a novel called ‘The Virus’ in 1982.

Our verdict

This is correct.

A post on Instagram claims that Stanley Johnson, father of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wrote a novel called ‘The Virus’ in 1982 and includes a synopsis of the book. This is correct.

The book was initially published in 1982, and was republished this summer during the coronavirus pandemic.

The novel was originally titled ‘The Marburg Virus’, and loosely draws on a real outbreak of a virus in Marburg, Germany, in 1967. The outbreak was associated with laboratory work using African green monkeys imported from Uganda. In Mr Johnson’s novel, this virus reaches New York.

In the preface to the reprint of the novel, Mr Johnson wrote: “My book’s hero, Dr Lowell Kaplan, a brilliant epidemiologist working for the CDC [Center for Disease Control], has an advantage over those engaged in the current race to find an antidote to the coronavirus. He knows, or thinks he knows, the original source of the infection. If he can track down and capture a live green monkey from the very tribe of green monkeys which supplied the Marburg Medical School at the time of the first outbreak, maybe the boffins will be able to develop and manufacture an antidote.”

The post also suggests that Mr Johnson’s writing of this book is “no coincidence”. This is an opinion that Full Fact cannot fact check.

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