5 People Who Eerily Predicted the Coronavirus Pandemic
These people put out ominous warnings of a disease that sounds a lot like COVID-19.
From infectious disease experts to politicians, quite a few people predicted a pandemic of COVID-19's magnitude. While Nostradamus, self-professed psychics, and various books and movies have been said to have predicted the widespread and devastating virus, there have been more substantial, even eerier predictions of COVID-19. And for all their warnings, we were still ill-prepared. Here, we've compiled some of the people who predicted coronavirus, going as far back as 2014. And to learn how coronavirus compares to past pandemics, read our article: How Does Coronavirus Stack Up Compared to Other Pandemics?
At a TED Talk in 2015, Bill Gates said, "As awful as this epidemic [Ebola] has been, the next one could be much worse. The world is simply not prepared to deal with a disease—an especially virulent flu, for example—that infects large numbers of people very quickly." Gates' warnings did not stop there.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Gates also cautioned President Donald Trump about the possibility of a pandemic back in 2016. In 2018, at an event centered around discussions on epidemics, Gates urged, "The world needs to prepare for pandemics in the same serious way it prepares for war." He even made a simulation of how a disease similar to the 1918 flu would behave today. According to the simulation, Gates found that new theoretical disease could potentially "kill 30 million people within six months."
Back in 2014, President Barack Obama warned that we needed to be better prepared globally to respond to a pandemic "so that when a new strain of flu, like the Spanish flu, crops up five years from now or a decade from now, we've made the investment." COVID-19 has often been compared most closely to the Spanish flu, and arrived five years after Obama presented this speech. Obama specifically predicted the illness would be a deadly airborne disease. And to learn more about the future of COVID-19, Here's When a Third Wave of Coronavirus Could Hit, Doctors Say.
United States Intelligence Community
The U.S. Intelligence Community does an annual Worldwide Threat Assessment. In their 2019 assessment, the Office of the Director wrote, "We assess that the United States and the world will 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."
Jeremy Konyndyk, former director of the United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance under the Obama administration, said in a Politico article that it was only a matter of time before a virus that resembled the 1918 Spanish flu plagued us. He warned that we would not be ready. "At some point, a highly fatal, highly contagious virus will emerge—like the 1918 'Spanish flu' pandemic, which infected one-third of the world's population and killed between 50 and 100 million people," he wrote in 2017. For another coronavirus prediction, Watch Dr. Fauci Eerily Predict the Coronavirus Pandemic in 2016.
Robert G. Webster
Virologist and flu expert Robert G. Webster, PhD, ominously warned us of a future pandemic in his book Flu Hunter: Unlocking the Secrets of a Virus, published in Feb. 2019. "Nature will eventually again challenge mankind with an equivalent of the 1918 influenza virus," he wrote. While Webster did not seem to know how the disease would manifest, he did know we would not be prepared. And for updates on a potential COVID-19 vaccine, This Is How Long a Coronavirus Vaccine Will Make You Immune.