The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) emerged right at the end of 2019 – establishing itself as a major threat to public health just as the world ushered in the new decade. The never-before-seen disease, amid fears, has spread something far more dangerous: conspiracy theories.
Forget newspapers, the Internet is the newest platform for conspiracy theories/hysteria/propaganda and it’s easy to see why…
Fear and ignorance are powerful tools, and in the right (or wrong) minds, human imagination and speculation into why the world is closing in on a full-blown pandemic—anyone and everyone are looking for something to blame.
Okay, BUZZ fam, so you’ve probably heard of a few of these, but we’ll present the craziest conspiracy theories out there – debunking the myths as we go along:
1. Predicted in a book?
If you told me that in the mind of some literary genius, was the idea of a disease so eerily similar to the coronavirus – it’d be hard to sell to me. If you told me that the same person would get the exact location of the real-life outbreak, I’d also say you’re lying.
But it turns out, BUZZ fam, some people are convinced that the 1981 thriller novel The Eyes of Darkness predicted the COVID-19 outbreak – nearly 40 years before.
Photographs of a passage from the book went viral (quite literally), doing nothing but further spook an already frightened world due to the strange, almost prophetic similarities.
If you’ve never read The Eyes of Darkness, the story is based on a mother trying to find out what happened to her son after he mysteriously disappeared on a camping trip. As fate would have it, the boy was alive, being held in China – more specifically in Wuhan – the site of a deadly viral outbreak.
A character named Dombey narrates the passage in question, as he gives an account of a virus called ‘Wuhan-400’ which was developed at the RDNA lab outside the city, and ‘ it was the four-hundredth viable strain of man-made microorganisms created at that research centre’.
Snopes, fact-checking the theory, said the “prediction” was false.
“However, Dean Koontz did not predict an outbreak of a new coronavirus. Other than the name, this fictional biological weapon has little in common with the virus that caused an outbreak in 2020,” Snopes wrote.
2. African immunity?
COVID-19, as of Monday (March 2), had spread to every continent on the world apart from Antarctica.
This conspiracy theory is rooted in racism as several ‘epidemiology experts’ were reportedly baffled as to why sub-Saharan African countries weren’t exploding with coronavirus cases.
Turns out, there’s no “proof” Africans and people of African descent are less susceptible to contracting COVID-19.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) expects every country to be affected by the coronavirus outbreak—African states, and countries with predominantly African ethnicities are taking just as many precautions to safeguard the health of their people.
No, it’s not ‘reparations’ for slavery either. There are actual lives involved.
Put simply, no human on this planet is immune to the coronavirus.
3. A bioweapon?
You hear it every time there’s a new outbreak: ‘Oh, we created it to control the population’. Allegations have been flung from both sides by China and the rest of the world, but these claims are highly problematic; not to mention unsubstantiated.
Yes, in the past, groups and governments have done terrible things in the name of science, creating a whole new front called biological warfare. But in this instance, we’re giving humans way too much credit.
Mother Nature is an efficient, notorious killer. The planet is merely reminding us that in the grand scheme of things, despite all our advances, we’re still mostly powerless in the face of the changing nature of disease.
It’s exactly why, after centuries, we’re still no closer to curing humankind of influenza. The virus responsible for the common flu mutates so often and has so many strains, it’s nearly impossible to protect ourselves from it.
4. Predicted by The Simpsons
Popular animate television series ‘The Simpsons’ is known for predicting several major events around the world before they happened.
From allegedly predicting the 9/11 attacks to Donald Trump announcing his presidency, the show is almost like an embodiment of Nostradamus. However, soon after the coronavirus outbreak, allegations of the show predicting the pandemic surfaced.
Posts on Twitter appeared and showed stills from a 1993 episode of the show in which both Homer Simpson and Principal Skinner are sick; another image shows a broadcaster reading off a piece of paper while the words “corona virus” and a cat appears on a screen behind him.
The truth, however, is sometimes less dramatic. Turns out that the images were altered. Three images were from an episode called ‘Osaka flu’ where a factory worker coughs into a package for Homer and he falls sick. The text behind the broadcaster in the fourth image, however, does not say ‘corona virus’ but ‘apocalypse meow’.
We even have clips from the episode to prove it. Check them out below:
5. Bat-soup and the origin of the coronavirus
Okay, BUZZ fam, these two I had to clump into one because they were fuelled by fully blown paranoia.
Weeks into the coronavirus outbreak, an image of an Asian woman went viral, thanks to Western media, which speculated that the burgeoning epidemic was sparked by the local consumption of bat soup.
The widely circulated video features unrelated footage of Chinese travel vlogger Wang Mengyun eating bat soup in the island country Palau in 2016 as part of an online travel programme.
*inhales* 👏🏿There👏🏿is👏🏿NO👏🏿SCIENTIFIC👏🏿PROOF that the Wuhan coronavirus started by locals eating bat soup.
Similarly, Wuhan has come under fire as netizens walked with their virtual mob torches – seeking to pinpoint a source to COVID-19’s genesis.
Scientists haven’t been able to determine the origin of the novel coronavirus. There are speculations running rife, however, that the virus originated in the Wuhan’s seafood market.
What continues to feed the conspiracy, are WHO reports which said that “most” cases had links to the seafood market, closed on Wednesday, January 1. The virus is new, and epidemiologists are no closer to uncovering its origin since it continues to spread.
Whew, there you have it, guys! Do you see what paranoia can do to us?
Let’s try our best not to fall down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories…they only lead to continued distrust and discrimination.