Hyderabad: With Coronavirus spreading across the world, the WHO has declared a global emergency and suggested that all countries be prepared to face this epidemic. In India, the number of cases has increased to 28. Amidst this panic, excerpts from a book written in 1981 are going viral alleging that the book had predicted the outbreak of the Coronavirus years ago.
The book, "Eyes of the Darkness", written by Dean Koontz is one of his best-selling works. An image of a page from the book, which mentions "Wuhan – 400", a biological weapon developed in the outskirts of China's Wuhan city, is going viral on Facebook and Whatsapp.
Most of the claims circulating on social media show the book's cover and a page in the book mentioning "Wuhan-400". The widely-circulated photo of Koontz's book includes some highlighted text which reads, "They call the stuff 'Wuhan-400' because it was developed at their RDNA labs outside of the city of Wuhan, and it was the four-hundredth viable strain of man-made microorganisms created at that research center."
Some have also claimed that an additional page mentions the year 2020 and the outbreak of "severe pneumonia-like illness".
This claim is PARTLY FALSE.
Dean Koontz did write of a fictional virus in his 1981 novel "Eyes of the Darkness". He named the virus 'Wuhan 400' and according to the novel it was developed in the outskirts of Wuhan city. The book says the virus was developed in a lab. However, there are NO proofs that COVID-19 was created in a lab. Coronavirus is believed to have originated in the food market of Wuhan where the meat of exotic animals are sold. Experts say that the virus originated in bats and passed on to humans through different animals.
However, in the novel, the virus does not affect any other species except humans and the incubation period is only four hours, with a killing rate of 100 per cent in 24 hours. It takes one to 14 days for COVID-19 symptoms to appear in an infected person and the fatality rate is only two to four per cent with many affected people getting cured.
The symptoms mentioned in the novel are very different from COVID-19 symptoms. Wuhan-400 causes the secretion of a toxin that eats away brain tissue, while Coronavirus symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Mild cases can cause cold-like symptoms, while severe cases can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory illness, kidney failure, and death.
In the 1981 edition of the novel available on Google Books, there is no reference to Wuhan -400. The biological weapon was called 'Gorki -400' after a Russian city.
According to the South China Morning Post, the name of the virus was changed to 'Wuhan-400' in the revised edition of 1989. The reason for this change is unknown.
Another page doing the round on social reads, "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…" This is NOT from "Eyes of the Darkness". It is taken from another book, "End of the Days: Predictions and Prophecies about the End of the World", written by Sylvia Browne, who claims to be a psychic. This book was published in 2008.
Therefore, the claim that Dean Koontz had predicted the outbreak of COVID-19 in his 1981 novel "Eyes of the Darkness" is PARTLY FALSE. Koontz wrote of a fictional virus called Wuhan- 400 but the description and symptoms of the disease do NOT match the symptoms of COVID-19. Another page being shared is taken from a different book unrelated to the novel.