The new strain of coronavirus — COVID-19 — which has spread to over 100 countries and killed more than 7,500 people so far across the globe, has triggered several conspiracy theories.
Is COVID-19 a manmade virus that was developed to be used as a biological weapon to bring down the population and consequently get rid of poverty?
Did Dean Koontz predict the creation of COVID-19 in China in his book ‘The Eyes of Darkness’?
Well, the answer would be NO.
A study carried out by various scientists, including those from the Scripps Research Institute in the US, found that the genome sequence of SARS-CoV-2 originated naturally.
The scientists arrived at this conclusion after analysing the mutations in the receptor-binding domain (RBD) — a kind of grappling hook that grips onto host cells, and the cleavage site, a molecular can-opener that allows the virus to crack open and enter host cells — portion of the spike protein.
They also concluded that the virus was a product of natural selection and evolution after examining the virus’ distinct backbone, which resembled the backbone of other natural viruses found in bats and pangolins.
Hence, scientists said the virus would have mostly originated from bats, snakes or pangolins.
Now that the biological weapon theory has been debunked, let us look at the ‘prediction’ made by author Dean Koontz in 1981 in his book, ‘The Eyes of Darkness’.
According to the various claims on social media platforms about the details in the book, the virus, named ‘Wuhan-400’ was developed by a Chinese scientist in an RDNA laboratory outside the city of Wuhan.
The virus affects only human beings and can thrive only in human beings, according to the book. The ‘weapon’ can also not survive outside a living human being for more than a minute.
What’s the truth?
Now, based on the study conducted by scientists, we can conclude that the virus was not genetically engineered in a lab like the book says, but originated among wildlife, more particularly bats or pangolins.
The report by scientists also debunks the next ‘prediction’ in the book that the new strain of coronavirus can thrive only in human beings, since their place of origin seems to be from bats.
Now comes the most shocking piece of information that most netizens would not have expected.
The 1981 edition of Koontz’s novel DOES NOT HAVE ANY REFERENCES TO WUHAN at all.
A search in the 1981 edition of ‘The Eyes of Darkness’ on Google reveals that the novel had named the biological weapon ‘Gorki-400’ and not ‘Wuhan-400’ as was claimed on social media.
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According to an article published in the South China Morning Post, the author had written that the virus originated in Russia and not in Wuhan.
The article also mentions that the book must have been rewritten and had changes made to the name of the virus as ‘Wuhan-400’ after the collapse of the Soviet Union, supposedly because the American author they needed a “new villain to point fingers at” after the end of the Cold War.
“An American author pointing the fictional finger of blame at Russia would not have gone down well in that climate, so ‘The Eyes of Darkness’ needed a new villain,” the article read.
The article also claims that the first edition of the book was written under Koontz’s pseudonym Leigh Nichols and not his original name.
Hence, the coronavirus pandemic that is currently resulting in a global shutdown was neither predicted by Dean Koontz, nor is it a manmade biological weapon.
(With inputs from The Wire)