Sunday December 10, 2023

A few predictions, conspiracy theories about COVID-19 outbreak

December 21, 2020

LAHORE: Though the US business tycoon, Bill Gates, had been airing fairly accurate forecasts regarding the outbreak of an international health threat for years, asserting the world must brace itself for a pandemic on war-footing, he still thinks that the next four to six months could turn out to be the worst as far as COVID-19 is concerned.

Eminent American newspaper "The Wall Street Journal" had stated that in December 2016, he (Gates) had reportedly gone on to warn the sitting American President, Donald Trump, regarding a lurking pandemic, besides advising the same to other 2016 Presidential candidates.

Not long ago, the "Business Insider," an American financial and business news website founded in 2007, had asserted: "In a 2018 discussion about epidemics hosted by the Massachusetts Medical Society and the New England Journal of Medicine, Bill Gates said a pandemic could happen within the next decade. He presented a simulation by the Institute for Disease Modeling, which found that a new flu like the one that killed 50 million people in the 1918 pandemic would now most likely kill 30 million people within six months. And in April 2020, Gates had said in an interview to the "Financial Times" that a viral outbreak will likely happen "every 20 years or so."

Since the Covid-19 breakout in December 2019, numerous researchers, academics and journalists all over the world have been discussing dozens of predictions, prophecies, creative interpretations, hoax writings, fictional accounts, assessments and conspiracy theories related to this pandemic.

For example, soon after COVID-19 struck the world, some social media posts had claimed that French astrologer and physician, Michel Nostradamus (1503-1566), had predicted the present COVID-19 outbreak way back in 1555.

This is what Nostradamus had foretold the world over 465 years ago: "There will be a twin year (2020) from which will arise a queen (corona) who will come from the east (China) and who will spread a plague (virus) in the darkness of night, on a country with 7 hills (Italy) and will transform the twilight of men into dust (death), to destroy and ruin the world. It will be the end of the world economy as you know it.”

However, in one of its April 10, 2020 reports, British news agency "Reuters" had nullified these claims: "This claim is unfounded. Reuters found no evidence of this prophecy being written by Nostradamus.” Stephane Gerson, Professor of French, French Studies, and History at New York University, told 'Reuters' this text “does not come from Nostradamus, nor from other prognostications made by him. Gerson told Reuters, “Plagues were recurrent in 16th-century Europe, during his lifetime. … Indeed, there are at least 35 references to plagues in his book."

On the other hand, another British media house "The Daily Express," which is a national middle-market tabloid newspaper, had written: "Nostradamus was a 16th-century apothecary and mystic who is believed by many to have predicted the future. The French physician is often credited with predicting the assassination of US President John Kennedy in 1963 and the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939. Conspiracy theorists base their bizarre claims on Nostradamus' 1555 book 'Les Propheties.' These conspiracy theorists are, however, certain the poetic quatrains can be deciphered to revealed clues about the future."

Remember, the French mystic had stayed away from naming specific dates or years.

"The Daily Express" had mentioned: There is no proof to support the claim in Nostradamus'd writings, and social media is rife with unfounded claims. Nostradamus's naysayers, however, do not believe the French physician ever made any real predictions of the future. In his book "Global Catastrophes and Trends," a Czech-Canadian scientist and policy analyst, Vaclav Smil (born 1943), had discussed in detail what havoc the catastrophes might wreak on mankind during the next 50 years.

The "Business Insider" writes: "Smil wrote in his afore-mentioned 2008 book that after the 1958-59, 1968, and 2009 pandemics, the US didn't take any major steps forward, leaving the country, and the world highly vulnerable to another viral pandemic. The likelihood of another influenza pandemic during the next 50 years is virtually 100%, but quantifying probabilities of mild, moderate, or severe events remains largely a matter of speculation because we simply do not know how pathogenic a new virus will be and what age categories it will preferentially attack."

This website, which operates 14 national editions and an international edition, adds that Dr. Michael Osterholm, who served at the Minnesota Department of Health in United States for 24 years as an Infectious Disease expert, has also been warning of a global pandemic for the past decade.

Meanwhile, an Avian Influenza authority, Robert Webster, had predicted an upcoming flu pandemic in a book he had published in December 2019.

"Business Insider" revealed: In 2018, the American intelligence community's Worldwide Threat Assessment warned that a "novel strain of a virulent microbe that is easily transmissible between humans continues to be a major threat."

And the 2019 threat assessment from last January 2019 had stated that the United States and the world would remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support.

According to the "Business Insider," Jeremy Konyndyk, former director of USAID's Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance under President Barack Obama administration, had hinted a virus similar to the 1918 flu pandemic would emerge.

However, Dr. Luciana Borio of the former White House National Security Council team, responsible for pandemics, had also previously warned of a pandemic flu threat.

The "Business Insider" had more to say:

"People also say that author Dean Koontz had predicted the pandemic in his 1981 novel, "The Eyes of Darkness." Similarly, self-proclaimed psychic, Sylvia Browne, was also said to have predicted a global pandemic similar to the Coronavirus. In her 2008 book, "End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies About the End of the World," she wrote: "In around 2020, a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and bronchial tubes and resisting all known treatments." We all know that a 2011 Hollywood film "Contagion" had also seemingly predicted the Coronavirus pandemic.

This movie was about a fictional illness called MEV-1, which became a global pandemic after a bat had spread it to a pig, which in turn had transmitted the disease to a person who didn't wash his hands before shaking hands with another person.