Did a 1981 science fiction book predict coronavirus?

Conspiracy theorists are puzzling over whether a 1981 novel predicted the coronavirus outbreak.

A passage from Dean Koontz's Eyes of Darkness has been posted all over social media appearing to prophesize the outbreak.

In Koontz's book a virus called 'Wuhan-400' is used as a biological weapon.

"They call the stuff Wuhan-400 because it was developed at their RDNA labs outside the city of Wuhan," reads the passage.

"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."



Some social media users pointed out that in earlier versions of the novel, the disease is named Gorki-400 and originated in Russia. After the end of the Cold War in 1989 the book was republished and the name of the disease was changed.

The virus described in the science fiction novel differs dramatically from the real coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak. 

COVID-19 outbreak originated inside the city of Wuhan, and conspiracy theories that the virus was manmade have been debunked. 

Contrary to Konntz's Wuhan-400, COVID-19 can infect animals and is thought to have jumped from animals to humans in a live food market. 

Koontz's novel also says Wuhan-400 has a 100 percent fatality rate. COVID-19 is fatal in around 2 percent of cases. 

The fictional Wuhan-400 virus has an incubation period of four hours, where COVID-19's has been measured between two and 14 days, with some reports it could be even longer.

Some social media posts also have an excerpt from another novel which appears to have predicted the outbreak -  End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies About the End of the World by Sylvia Browne.

"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 the passage.

It has often been shared alongside the Koontz quote, with people claiming they come from the same book.

Browne's prediction was made in 2008 - shortly after the global outbreak of the SARS epidemic. SARS and COVID-19 share similar characteristics, which perhaps explains how Browne's prediction was influenced. 

Other predictions from the book claim paralysis and Parkinson's will be cured by 2012, and blindness will be a thing of the past by 2020. None of these came to pass.