Fever dreams

This week I first came across a biological weapon named “Wuhan-400” in Dean Koontz’s novel “The Eyes of Darkness”. I doubt anyone had the notion that the famous thriller author was “predicting” a real-world outbreak of COVID-19, coronavirus disease. But accepting the fact of today’s reality, after such an outbreak had occurred, I’d like to share some sensations from his book that is flying off the shelves right now as people want to know if author Dean Koontz had an inside scoop on the coronavirus that’s plaguing the countries right now. Koontz book, “The Eyes of Darkness” mentions a deadly virus that Koontz called “Wuhan 400”. In his book published in 1981, he describes it as  “man-made microorganisms” that “only afflicts human beings.” When The Eyes of Darkness was re-released in 1989, the Cold War between the Soviet Union (now Russia) and the United States was nearing the end after the former began an era of “glasnost” or increased openness. A revision of The Eyes of Darkness changed the virus name to from Gorki-400 to ‘Wuhan-400’ and its origin to China. Wuhan, an industrial centre for most of China’s history, is also home to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Best-selling author Dean Koontz is going viral amid wild conspiracy theories that he predicted the novel coronavirus almost 40 years ago, even naming it after the Chinese city where COVID-19 originated. An excerpt from the American author’s 1981 novel “The Eyes of Darkness” is being shared online after he wrote about a virus with an apparently uncanny resemblance to the one experts warn could prove a pandemic. They call the stuff Wuhan-400 because it was developed at their labs outside the city of Wuhan, a character says in the novel – referring to the same city at the epicenter of the current global outbreak. Nick Hinton, who posted the original shot, insisted, “A Dean Koontz novel written in 1981 predicted the outbreak of the coronavirus!” The similarity quickly made the tweet go viral and sparking even more conspiracy theories, with readers noting how the plot calls the Wuhan virus the “perfect weapon” to “wipe out a city or country.” However, many quickly dismissed the prophecy theories and a fact-checking investigation by Snopes said the fact that the virus was named after Wuhan is where the similarities end. Noting that there is no reason to believe COVID-19 is man-made like in the book, Snopes also stressed that the novel’s virus has a 100 percent fatality rate, compared to the 2 percent death rate of the current outbreak. Bookstore owner Albert Wan told that a “smart, savvy” writer like Koontz would know to pick Wuhan for a plot because it is the home to many research facilities. This is a genuine page from the novel “The Eyes of Darkness.” It’s true that Koontz named a fictional biological weapon “Wuhan-400” in this novel. It’s also true that Wuhan, China, is the city at the center of the 2020 coronavirus outbreak. However, here are a few things this “prediction” gets wrong:
  • In Koontz’s novel, “Wuhan-400” is a human-made weapon. The coronavirus, on the other hand, is not.
  • In the novel, “Wuhan-400” has a 100% fatality rate. While researchers are still learning about the coronavirus, the current fatality rate sits at about 2%.
  • The fictional “Wuhan-400” has an extremely quick incubation period of about four hours, compared to COVID-19 which has an incubation period between two and 14 days.
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