Koontz wrote that Wuhan-400 was developed in labs outside Wuhan, China and was the “perfect weapon” – it only affected people and couldn’t survive outside a living human body for more than a minute.
Decades later, an extract from his novel is doing the rounds online, with suggestions that Koontz predicted the 2019 coronavirus.
One Facebook post includes three photos: two of pages from a book and one showing the cover of Koontz’s novel, The Eyes of Darkness.
The caption reads: “Koontz wrote this book early, 90s and described the Corona virus. Interesting.”
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases. An outbreak of a new strain, named Covid-19, was identified in Wuhan, China in late December 2019.
According to the World Health Organization’s most recent update on the outbreak, for 24 February 2020, the virus has claimed 2,595 lives in China. Twenty-three more deaths have been recorded outside China.
There have been 79,331 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection across the world, most of them in China.
Wuhan-400 has little in common with Covid-19
How does the real Covid-19 compare with the “Wuhan-400” Koontz wrote about in 1981?
Both have an association with the Chinese city of Wuhan, but the similarities end there. Koontz’s fictional disease was developed by researchers in a lab. But as various fact-checking organisations have pointed out, there is no evidence that Covid-19 was created in a lab or engineered by people.
The novel also says that Wuhan-400 “afflicts only human beings” and that “no other living creature can carry it”. But Covid-19 is believed to have crossed over to humans from animals.
Another characteristic of the fictional Wuhan-400 is that it has a “kill-rate” of 100% while the Covid-19 has a fatality rate of 2%.
Second photo from 2009 book End of Days
In the second photo in the Facebook post, a passage circled in orange 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.”
But the passage is not from Koontz’s book. It’s from the 2009 book End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies About the End of the World, written by psychic Sylvia Browne.
Severe cases of Covid-19 can cause pneumonia and shortness of breath, but the World Health Organization says most victims will recover. And trials for vaccines and other potential treatments are taking place.
Both “predictions” by Koontz and Browne do not fit the characteristics of Covid-19. – Africa Check
For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false
A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?
Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.Publishers guide
Africa Check teams up with Facebook
Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.
The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.
You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.