They saw it coming: Dean Koontz, Sylvia Browne, Nostradamus and, er, Donald Trump are said to have predicted COVID-19 long ago.
Did some writers predict COVID-19 a long time ago?
THE X-PAT FILES - Scott Garceau (The Philippine Star) - April 5, 2020 - 12:00am

I like to look at tealeaves. They make pretty patterns on the bottom of my teacup. But I never consider that those tealeaves are spelling out prophecies of the future. Usually, it just indicates that my tea ball has a leakage problem.

But now, it seems a lot people are desperately looking to find meaning in the coronavirus, often peering into the past for answers — or often just claiming they knew about it before anyone else.

Like Donald Trump, who, after pooh-poohing the spread of the COVID-19 virus for weeks, recently bragged, “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

But he isn’t the only one out there with magical powers of precognition.

Lately, there’ve been a lot of “Aha!” moments as people unearth certain book passages and writings that supposedly predicted — well, not exactly how we got here, with a virus spreading globally, infecting over a million people; more like “Wow, OMG, someone predicted this a long time ago!”

• Exhibit A is the 1981 Dean Koontz novel The Eyes of Darkness, which mentions a deadly bioweapon called “Wuhan-400” created in a Chinese laboratory that gets unleashed upon the world. I know what you’re thinking: Hey, sounds pretty familiar! Koontz was, of course, a popular fiction writer in the Stephen King vein whose scenarios, much like Michael Crichton’s, sometimes intersected with current science. (Crichton, incidentally, wrote a novel called The Andromeda Strain in 1969 about a deadly extraterrestrial microorganism that comes to earth when a military satellite crash-lands in New Mexico; only an alcoholic geriatric and a bawling baby are immune from the virus, so they’re shuttled into a HAZMAT tent for testing and to create a vaccine. And King, famously, wrote the 1978 novel The Stand about a global flu virus called “Captain Trips” that was very, very bad indeed. It’s practically a guidebook on how a virus can spread exponentially. Most chilling, perhaps, is Chapter 8, detailing how, like a chain letter, each person with the virus casually infects dozens and scores of others, until, within days, “Captain Trips brought bedrooms with a body or two in each one, and trenches, and deadpits, and finally bodies slung into the oceans on each coast and into quarries and into the foundations of unfinished houses. And in the end, of course, the bodies would rot where they fell.” Scary guy, that Stephen King.)

Anyway, Koontz’s story is mostly about a mother trying to figure out how her son died on a camping trip, but it mentions a deadly lab-created virus called, in the original edition, “Gorki-400” (at the time, Russians were considered the sinister masterminds behind all global viruses). But the name was changed for the 2008 edition to “Wuhan-400.” Does this mean that A) Koontz looked into his crystal ball and saw the future, but decided, rather than warn the planet about the coming COVID-2019 in a more direct, less literary way, that he’d simply do an edit on the manuscript, changing the location to Wuhan, China (where there is, in fact, a large virology lab) and just hope that people got the message? Or, B) was he merely trying to sell more books?

Unlike COVID-19, Koontz’s Wuhan virus is 100 percent deadly, and it’s manmade in a lab — but this has only fired up the antennae of conspiracy buffs, who’ve grown even more suspicious of all government quarantine efforts and official numbers. I guess because we all live in a time when rumor is viral, and truth is stillborn.

• Exhibit B is a supposed prophecy from our favorite soothsayer, good ol’ Nostradamus, one that, if authentic, would have provided crystal-clear evidence that the guy really knew his sh*t. The supposed Nostra-prophecy goes something like this:

“There will be a twin year (2020) from which will arise a queen (corona) who will come from the east (China) and who will spread a plague (virus) in the darkness of night.”

Only problem with the above quote, which has spread online almost as fast as COVID-19, is that nobody can find it anywhere in the writings of Michel de Nostradame, particularly his 1551 best-seller Les Prophéties, which outlines in quatrains all those vaguely tantalizing predictions that people insist are crystal-clear, hand-to-God glimpses into future events., which investigates dubious claims and things otherwise known as “fake news,” has concluded that this alleged Nostradamus quote is… total bunk.

But wait! There is this cryptic warning about a “plague” that does appear in one of Nostradamus’ quatrains (Century 2:53) which states:

“The great plague of the maritime city… will not cease until there be avenged the death… of the just blood, condemned for a price without crime.”

Only trouble is, Wuhan is in no way a “maritime city”; it’s located in landlocked central China. Yet some point to the alleged origins of the virus in a seafood market as being “close enough” evidence that Nostradamus saw it coming, centuries ago.

• For Exhibit C, we turn to self-styled American psychic Sylvia Browne, whose 2008 book End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies About the End of the World has become a surprise online best-seller these past weeks because of predictions she made about the year 2020 — but also because certain relevant passages from it went viral after being tweeted by Kim Kardashian West, and retweeted exponentially after that. (Maybe Kim should start a book club like Oprah.)

The prophecy in question goes like this:

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

Truly alarming. Disregarding the vague “around 2020”(psychics are not expected to get hung up on consulting calendars, after all), this is kind of accurate. The COVID virus does flood the bronchial tubes and lungs, making breathing quite impossible in some cases. Pneumonia is often a feature of the illness. Browne goes on to say, in this brief passage:

“Almost more baffling than the illness itself will be the fact that it will suddenly vanish as quickly as it arrived, attack again 10 years later, and then disappear completely.”

This one not even could fact-check, unless they have a staff of tealeaf readers who can gaze into the future and see exactly when COVID-19 exits stage right, only to return on its 10th anniversary. So we can cut her some slack on this one.

More interestingly, to those interested in such things, is that Browne goes on to predict some very big shakeups in the United States government:

“The year 2020 will mark the end of the US presidency and the executive branch of the government. Let’s just say that the American public will finally be fed up by then and leave it at that.”

Truly jaw-dropping. She then goes on to prognosticate the end of the US Congress (the executive and legislative branches will be folded into one, and “the ‘party’ system of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, et al, will un-complicate itself into Liberals and Conservatives, who will debate and vote on each proposed bill and law in nationally televised debates”), adding that members of this newly unified “Senate” will be “prohibited from having any past or present salaried position with any company” that would conflict with their elected status, and must submit periodic “alcohol and drug test results.” (She might’ve added periodic mental health examinations, just to be safe.)

Browne’s predictions do seem a little more spot-on than other tea-readers out there, though elsewhere she predicts a return to a bucolic, nature-based society called the “Other Side” that sounds a bit like that weird cloud-based paradise that the robot “hosts” transit to at the end of Westworld’s second season. “Go to where the eagles fly, to where the wolf roams, to where the bear lives,” she writes. “Our Spirit Guides are there. Our true soul mates are there. And best of all, every animal we’ve ever loved from every lifetime we’ve lived is on hand.”

So, yeah. You’ve got to take the good with the bad when it comes to reading tealeaves.

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with