All over the world today, people are attempting to adjust to the terrifying realities brought about by the coronavirus. Yet while many of us wrestle with how the outbreak practically affects our lives, others have delved into mysticism. Specifically, some internet users have suggested that centuries ago, Nostradamus predicted this exact situation.
The world, of course, has experienced its fair share of pandemics up until this point. Yet for many of us, the impact of the coronavirus has been unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. Entire sections of society have been shut down, with swathes of people advised to avoid social contact as far as possible.
Many people are now confined to their homes, hiding from this invisible airborne illness which has so dramatically affected almost every aspect of their daily lives. Given these extreme circumstances, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that outlandish claims have begun to surface. And one of these suggests that the supposed prophet Nostradamus warned us of what was to come back in 1555.
The standard mode of transmission of the coronavirus is from one individual to another. When an infected person sneezes or coughs, little airborne drops of water given off can carry the virus and then enter into another person’s system. The subsequent disease which is induced is COVID-19, an illness which usually primarily affects a sufferer’s lungs in particular.
Many people who contract the coronavirus don’t actually exhibit any signs of illness. Some, however, might have symptoms resembling those you’d experience when suffering from influenza. For example, infected people might have a cough, fever or breathing difficulties. Severe cases can lead to pneumonia and even organ failure, sometimes with fatal consequences.
It can apparently take anywhere from two days to two weeks for symptoms to emerge after infection. According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) in the milder instances, recovery time is approximately a fortnight, while for more extreme cases, it’s usually between three and six weeks before people get better. However, in cases of individuals that eventually pass away from the disease, it can take anywhere from two to eight weeks for their infection to lead to death.
As of late March 2020 no vaccine has been developed, but efforts to do so are ongoing. In the meantime, people are being advised to clean their hands regularly and to avoid bringing them to their face. Individuals have also been encouraged to stay away from one another as much as possible.
COVID-19 was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan on December 1, 2019. Though we can’t say for certain, it’s been suggested that the initial patient was a male in his 50s. After this case, of course, more instances of illness were soon noted in the region around Wuhan.
By the end of December, a spike in occurrences of pneumonia in Wuhan had drawn wider attention to the area. An investigation was launched, which led officials to a seafood market. This place traded living creatures, so it’s been posited that the coronavirus affecting people had initially come from an animal.
Right from the beginning, the virus spread quickly, with cases roughly doubling in frequency after every week or so. Throughout the earlier days and weeks of January, the virus started to make its way to other parts of China. This was exacerbated by the Chinese New Year, which sees great numbers of people moving around the country annually.
By January 20, 2020 more than 6,100 people had been officially recorded as exhibiting symptoms of the disease. Furthermore, news reports indicated that an average of almost 140 new patients were being acknowledged each day at this time. As January reached its close, then, the W.H.O. announced that the eruption of the illness was now a global matter.
Throughout February, the coronavirus moved into a number of other countries beyond China. The hardest-hit nations at this point were South Korea, Iran and Italy. In fact, by the middle of March, Europe had now become the hub of the outbreak, which had been designated as a pandemic on March 11 by the W.H.O.
In the United States specifically, the arrival of coronavirus was verified on January 21, 2020. By March 12, about 1,000 diagnoses had been recorded, but rates grew rapidly from this point on. A national emergency was announced on March 13, with rates spiking by roughly 1,000 cases a day after that.
The coronavirus has impacted countries and their populations all over the globe. In numerous places, educational institutions have been shut down, with social gatherings being limited wherever possible. In some places, total quarantines have been initiated. Italy, for instance, was brought into such a state on March 9.
With such dramatic changes to everyday life now very much a reality, it’s perhaps unsurprising that some have taken to fantasy. With this in mind, some readers have noticed apparent references to the coronavirus in novels written well before the pandemic started to spread. For instance, 1981’s The Eyes of Darkness by Dean Koontz included a mention of a disease called Wuhan-400.
The Eyes of Darkness concerns a young boy being imprisoned in a base after becoming infected by Wuhan-400. This is a microorganism which, the story goes, had been created artificially by mankind. Obviously, the name of the infection seems to reference reality, and people have noticed other similarities throughout the tale, too.
Having said that, there are clear divergences between the story and reality. For one thing, the fictional Wuhan-400 is deadly for every person that catches it. On the other hand, while the fatality rate for COVID-19, is yet to be accurately calculated, it’s clear that the disease is deadly for only a relatively small percentage of those infected. Furthermore, the imaginary disease only impacts people, whereas coronavirus is thought to have first come from animals.
Elsewhere, people have recently been turning to another book which was first published back in 2008. This is End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies about the End of the World, penned by Sylvia Browne. In this work, the self-proclaimed “psychic” author describes the onset of a pneumonia crisis engulfing the Earth.
According to Browne’s book, “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… Almost more baffling than the illness itself will be the fact that it will suddenly vanish as quickly as it has arrived, attack again ten years later, and then disappear completely.”
This short section of End of Days has captured the attention of some people on Twitter. One person, for instance, posted, “How crazy is this? The psychic, Sylvia Browne, predicted the @coronavirus.” Another, meanwhile, said, “I remember Sylvia Browne, she was always pretty accurate with her predictions.” As with The Eyes of Darkness, however, certain things don’t match up exactly.
Indeed, some people have taken to their keyboards to express their skepticism regarding the predictive nature of Browne’s book. As one person has pointed out on Twitter, “Even a broken clock gives the right hour of the day twice.” And another individual, meanwhile tweeted something along very similar lines as this.
Also referencing the notion of a stopped clock expressing the right time twice in 24 hours, this person elaborated further. They tweeted, “If you write about hundreds of different scenarios that could possibly play out, you’re probably going to get something right.” Someone else, meanwhile, advised, “Medical experts have been saying for years we will have more pandemics. Stop reporting silly books!”
As we can see, then, there is skepticism surrounding the notion of individuals having anticipated the global outbreak of coronavirus. Yet there are always those who are open to the idea of prophecies. And one person who repeatedly crops up with regard to this idea is Nostradamus, a doctor and supposed oracle from France who lived during the 16th century.
Oddly enough, Nostradamus himself had to deal with a pandemic during his lifetime. Aged just 14, he had started his university education in the French city of Avignon. This was cut short, however, as his university shut down following the spread of plague. Of course, this mirrors instances of universities shutting around the world today.
In the year 1529 Nostradamus started attending the University of Montpellier to train to become a doctor. However, he was soon thrown out of the institution, after he was discovered to be breaking rules by dispensing medication to people. From there, he continued working in medicine, garnering attention by concocting “rose pills” to inoculate people against the plague.
It’s said that Nostradamus traveled to the city of Agen in 1531. While he was there, he tied the knot with a woman, though we can’t be sure of what her name was. The couple had two kids, but tragedy was right around the corner. In 1534 both Nostradamus’s spouse and their children perished, in all probability having contracted the plague.
More than a decade after this terrible event, Nostradamus found himself in Marseille. And yet again, the plague was a prominent factor of his life. He helped in attempts to defeat the disease here, before eventually moving on and setting up home in Salon-de-Provence in 1547. Here, he married again and had six kids.
Over time, Nostradamus started to drift away from typical medical traditions toward more mystical practices. In fact, it’s been suggested that he experimented with a variety of pseudoscientific techniques, including the writing of horoscopes. Furthermore, in 1550 he put together an almanac, a publication setting out happenings due to take place throughout the year.
Nostradamus’s almanac did very well, and so he was emboldened to come up with more. And so, over the course of several years, he created numerous such publications. It was off the back of these that he attracted the interest of many members of the ruling class, who sought his supposed “psychic” abilities.
Eventually, Nostradamus started work on the book for which he is most known in contemporary times. This is Les Prophéties, which was first circulated in 1555. The publication contains numerous predictions about future events in the form of multiple four-line stanzas. Broadly speaking, the notion of catastrophe is a recurring theme of these supposed premonitions.
According to those convinced of Nostradamus’ predictive abilities, the supposed seer anticipated several significant events in history. For one thing, some believe that he foresaw the rise of Adolf Hitler. Elsewhere, there are seeming references to the atomic bombs dropping on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. There’s also a prediction which, in some way, resembles the events of 9/11.
Today, as the world tries to get to grips with the coronavirus pandemic, some people have suggested that Nostradamus foresaw this exact scenario arising. In one passage of Les Prophéties, the writer discusses “the great plague of the maritime city.” But could this be a reference to what we’re seeing now?
According to one writer and follower of Nostradamus, it most certainly is. As Mackenzie Sage Wright told lifestyle website Mens Variety, “Any fool can see that Nostradamus could see exactly what is happening now with this virus. None of us should be surprised at what’s happening. You can only trash the planet for so long before Mother Nature fights back.”
Of course, many people are extremely doubtful that Nostradamus could truly see into the future. In his book Nostradamus, Bibliomancer: The Man, the Myth, the Truth, writer Peter Lemesurier attempts to dispel the falsities surrounding the figure. According to Lemesurier, Nostradamus used to consider events from the past and use them as the basis of his premonitions. This was based on the notion that history is cyclical.
Moreover, the phrasing of Nostradamus’ predictions is often extremely ambiguous, meaning that people project their own biases onto them. This can lead to individuals distorting his writings, as podcaster Brian Dunning has pointed out. Speaking on his Skeptoid show, Dunning said, “Nostradamus’ writings are exploited in a number of fallacious ways.”
Dunning also implied that attempting to make sense of Nostradamus’s prophecies was the work of conspiracy theorists. He also went on, “How accurate are his predictions? You could fill a library with books claiming to match [his prophecies] with major events in world history. All, of course, deciphered and published after those events occurred.”
The podcaster continued, “[Nostradamus] was truly one of the brilliant lights of his day. But to subscribe to false stories and urban legends is to disrespect who the man actually was. Appreciate his contributions to medicine and Renaissance literature, and don’t trivialize his good works in favor of a pretended history of paranormal magical powers.”
As for what actually lays in store for us is anyone’s guess. We are, after all, in the midst of a massively significant global pandemic. Already, the coronavirus has altered the very fabric of our lives, and who knows how this story will end? Internet working and learning, for one thing, have become extremely popular in a short period of time. Perhaps this change will last?
But much more grim outcomes have been predicted, too. Economists have started to speak up about a significant recession which seems to be rapidly approaching. As such, there are those who are now attempting to prepare for this eventuality. Really, though, who knows how serious this projected downturn could prove to be?
At the time of writing, a number of institutions are attempting to concoct a vaccine to help defeat the coronavirus. Yet such a substance could still be a long, long way from ever coming into reality. For now, then, the future remains murky – even with a collection of Nostradamus’ alleged prophecies to help guide us.