Two books that foretold the Coronavirus 40 and 12 years ago respectively, Dean Koontz’s ‘The Eyes of Darkness’ and ‘End of Days’ written by Sylvia Browne, are now available for pulp fiction lovers at Sunshine Bookseller, Ibadan, Oyo State.
The two books peculiarly foretold the rampaging Coronavirus (Covid-19) that has so far led to 4,200 deaths globally and caused massive lockdowns across the world.
Koontz’s 1981 novel mentioned a virus named Wuhan-400 that was created as a weapon in a laboratory. The book which revolves around a grieving mother investigating the mysterious circumstances of her son’s death references a killer virus known as “Wuhan-400”, the name of the city where the coronavirus originated.
An excerpt reads: “A Chinese scientist … defected to the United States, carrying a diskette record of China’s most important and dangerous new biological weapon in a decade. They call the stuff ‘Wuhan-400’ because it was developed at their RDNA labs outside the city of Wuhan. “Wuhan-400 is the perfect weapon.”
The extract has since gone viral, launching several bizarre conspiracy theories about the origins of the coronavirus.
‘End of Days’ first published in 2008, has this excerpt: “In around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and bronchial tubes resisting all known treatments.”
It added that the illness would vanish soon after its arrival. “Almost more baffling than the illness itself will be the fact that it will suddenly vanish as quickly as it arrives, attack again ten years later and then disappear completely.”
Renewed public interest in the novels has led to a significant increase in their prices on Amazon. ‘The Eyes of Darkness’ is now selling for over N300,000 while ‘End of Days’ goes for about N30,000
Sunshine has e-versions of both books and has asked interested readers to visit its site to purchase them for their reading enjoyment.
However, the links between Koontz’s Wuhan-400 and the Coronavirus is tenuous. A recent report by Daily Mail showed that other than the city of origin, there is little similarity between the fictional Wuhan-400 and the real coronavirus.
In ‘The Eyes Of Darkness’, Wuhan-400 is a bioweapon virus that has a fatality rate of 100 per cent within 12 hours.
The characters explain that the Chinese intended to use it ‘to wipe out a city or a country’ without the need for ‘expensive decontamination’.
‘Wuhan-400 is a perfect weapon. It afflicts only human beings. No other living creature can carry it. And like syphilis, Wuhan-400 can’t survive outside a living human body for longer than a minute, which means it can’t permanently contaminate objects or entire places the way anthrax and other virulent microorganisms can,’ one character says.
Coronavirus, however, has an estimated mortality rate of just 2 to 3 per cent. It can survive on surfaces for much longer than a minute, possibly hours or days. Scientists are working now to determine such properties with more precision.
In the Koontz novel, the Wuhan-400 attacks the brain. As one character describes it: ‘The virus migrates to the brain stem, and there it begins secreting a toxin that literally eats away brain tissue like battery acid dissolving cheesecloth. It destroys the part of the brain that controls all of the body’s automatic functions.’
Coronavirus, on the other hand, primarily affects the respiratory system, in severe cases resulting in pneumonia. The primary symptoms are fever, coughing, and shortness of breath.
The book also describes a virus that has an incubation period of just four hours. In contrast, coronavirus incubates for several days to two weeks.
Finally, in the first edition of ‘The Eyes Of Darkness’, the virus was originally called ‘Gorki-400’, after the Russian city where Koontz originally wrote the bioweapons lab.
After the Soviet Union fell in 1991, Koontz changed later editions to make China the villain.