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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Wait, did Dean Koontz predict the coronavirus in 1981?

Illustration for article titled Wait, did Dean Koontz predict the coronavirus in 1981?
Photo: Mark Sullivan (Getty Images)

COVID-19, a new strain of coronavirus, while certainly a spooky major headline story in early 2020, still seems like it’s not something the average American needs to worry over at the moment. That’s not to say it isn’t a nastily infectious virus, but it still only has around a 2% fatality rate, so the odds certainly remain in your favor, unless you recently hopped aboard a cruise ship. Still, it would’ve been nice to have seen something like this coming, though, right? These viral outbreaks are always pretty nasty surprises. If only someone could have warned us about this new disease from Wuhan, China? Well, other than that missing citizen journalist, Chen Qiushi, or the late Dr. Li Wenliang, who tragically died from the disease they tried so desperately to warn the world about.


Wait a second...

Dean Koontz prophesied all this almost 40 years ago? Dean Koontz! (Also, wait a second, 1981 was almost 40 years ago? Good God).

“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,” reads a passage from Koontz’s 1981 novel, The Eyes of Darkness, which then goes on to describe a Chinese scientist defecting to the U.S. named—wait for it—Li Chen with information on “Wuhan-400,” the man-made disease ravaging the planet.

Snopes has already rated Twitter’s evidence of Koontz’s Nostradamus-like abilities as “Mostly False,” citing that such “evidence” as:

  • In Koontz’s novel, “Wuhan-400” is a human-made weapon. The coronavirus, on the other hand, was 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.

Look, Snopes, we’re not idiots. Technically “Mostly False” means it’s “A Little Bit True,” which in turn obviously means Dean Koontz is a soothsayer we must all start taking a bit more seriously. So what other insanity does that portend for 2020? Is Snopes a Chinese psyop trying to cover up Dean Koontz’s soothsaying abilities? We’ll go ahead and rate that as “Mostly False,” too, but we all know what that means...

Tell us our futures, Dean Koontz.

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Andrew Paul is a contributing writer with work recently featured by NBC Think, GQ, Slate, Rolling Stone, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. He writes the newsletter, (((Echo Chamber))).