Throughout history, many pandemics have caught human kind by surprise, such as the Spanish flu during the 1910’s and the H1N1 swine flu during the 2010’s. COVID-19 has already affected millions of lives throughout the world. As a result, we have witnessed a total restructuring of our world and an increasing amount of fear and uncertainty. However, many scientists and researchers have been collecting data on viruses for decades and some have predicted the pandemic. In this article, we will be highlighting the top 10 individuals who have anticipated the current outbreak.
1. Laurie Garrett
Laurie Garnett, an award winning journalist, has been predictive about the impact of H.I.V in the past and also about the spread of contagious viruses throughout the globe. More precisely, Garnett warned the world in her 1994 best seller book “The Coming Plague” about a pandemic like the current COVID-19. She currently envisions the development of a cure or vaccine in a 36 month/3 year time frame as the best scenario. Her vision encompasses that this pandemic will hit society in waves and will lead to the population re-evaluating the importance of travel.
Garnett’s history of accuracy has led her to be in high demand for her expertise. Every day, she responds to a high amount of interviews from all over the world.
2. China’s “Bat Woman” Shi Zhengli
Researcher Shi Zhengli is the director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), a biosafety level 4 (BSL–4) laboratory located in Wuhan. For the past 10 years she has warned the world that bats harbor viruses that pose serious risks to human health. She has hunted for viruses in bat caves in China for the past 16 years. Zhengli has warned her colleagues that new viruses are accelerating due to the high density of people and animals living together, cross contaminating bacteria that humans are not immune to. During her research, Shi and her team hike for hours to discover cave sites in extremely uncomfortable conditions. In one week, Shi has explored more than 30 caves and has only seen around a dozen bats. Bats are animals who carry a very high number of viruses, diseases and bacteria. Conducting research on these nocturnal creatures has helped further the research of viruses such as SARS.
Therefore, Shi’s research has helped scientists find the source of the virus and has helped society better understand the pandemic. From the beginning of her experiments, Shi has predicted the virus by suggesting that the cross contamination with bats will cause tragedies to a great degree of the human population, due to our lack of immunity to their diseases. Fortunately, Zhengli’s research on bat pathogens has helped scientists understand and deal with the current COVID-19 outbreak.
3. Disease Expert Michael Osterholm
For the past decade, infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm has been generating predictions and warning society of a global pandemic coming our way. Osterholm wrote in a Foreign Affairs magazine that “This is a critical point in our history. Time is running out to prepare for the next pandemic. We must act now with decisiveness and purpose.” He also states in his book “Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs”, published in 2017, that the United States is not prepared for an upcoming pandemic.
Therefore, Michael’s profession and research has allowed him to test his hypothesis of diseases and make predictions on the subject. His profession allows him to work closely with data on past and current diseases. As a result, Osterholm has appeared to be accurate in his predictions about the upcoming pandemic, as we are currently dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.
4. Jeremy Konyndyk
Jeremy Konyndyk is the former director of USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance under the Obama administration. Konyndyk wrote in a Politico article published in 2017, that a virus similar to the 1928 flu pandemic will emerge. He adds that it is not a matter of if, but when. Furthermore, Konyndyk shares the same prediction as the previous individuals of the United States and President Trump being unprepared for such a worldwide pandemic. Jeremy’s reasoning behind his claims are based on world wide travel and cross contamination.
5. Bryan Walsh
A reporter for the Times magazine in New York city, Bryan Walsh, has written two articles in 2006 and 2017 that predicted an upcoming event similar to the Coronavirus that the world is currently experiencing.
The first article written in 2006 focuses on the negative effects of Global warming, and is warning the population to be worried due to the effects China and India may have on the planet. Therefore, it is quite apparent that reporters have been targeting large overpopulated countries as future threats. For example, China covers approximately 9,600,000 square kilometres and holds around 1.428 billion people in 2017. A population of this size living close together holds a high risk of rapid spread.
The second article written in 2017 focuses on America not being ready for a future pandemic. Walsh writes about our planet being “hyper connected with hyper infectious diseases which experts are not ready to keep America and the world safe from”. The article focuses mainly on viruses’ sparking from present circulating pandemics originating from China. Using the example of the H7N9, Walsh explains that the H7N9 cannot yet spread easily from person to person. However, the longer the virus spends in the human body, the better chance it has to mutate and become more contagious. It is only a matter of time before it hops off a plane from China on to foreign lands, where it could spread through the air very rapidly. Therefore, Walsh accurately predicted the current CODIV-19 pandemic, which is effectively airborne and is spreading through the entire world like wildfire.
6. Peter Daszak
Similar to China’s ‘batwoman” Shi Zhengli, Peter Daszak and his team explore caves to expose themselves to the world’s deadliest unknown viruses for research purposes. Before the night begins, the team sets up nets around target areas and patiently wait for nightfall where thousands of bats fly right into the net looking for food.
Over the past 10 years, Daszak has visited over 20 countries trying to prevent the next big pandemic. During his research, Peter has discovered over 500 new pathogens. One of those viruses, found on a bat in a cave in China in 2013, was an ancestor of the COVID-19. He has predicted this current pandemic due to his position of working closely among bats and their viruses. He explains that it was just a matter of time before an individual gets infected and spreads the virus, especially in the living conditions many Chinese citizens face. However, Daszak and Zhengli’s research on bat’s and their carriers is helping scientists around the world find a cure for the tragic Coronavirus.
7. Steven Soderbergh
Director Steven Soderbergh predicted the coronavirus pandemic in his 2011 film “Contagion”. The plot concerns the spread of a virus transmitted by airborne respiratory effects worldwide and highlights the consequences of the virus. Medical researchers try to contain the disease by introducing a new vaccine to stop the spread and its tragic effects. The illness in this film is called MEV-1, which started from a bat spreading it to a pig, who further spread it to an individual who failed to wash their hands, leading to the fast spread of this fatal virus.
This story seems all too familiar, seeing that the current COVID-19 virus is said to have emerged from a bat being indulged as a delicacy in Wuhan, China. Once again, the past predictions on human pandemics from this movie have come to life.
8. Scott Z Burn
American screenwriter, producer and director Scott Z Burn is the screenwriter of the previously mentioned 2011 film “Contagion”. He predicted the coronavirus pandemic as well, due to his recent statements in a Variety interview.
Scott explains in the interview that when he was working on the movie, every scientist he spoke to said that the pandemic is a matter of when, not if. Z Burn was also very aware that the Department of Homeland Security has a pandemic team prepared because it is a real life threat. Scott’s predictions showcased in his movie unfortunately came to life 9 years late in 2020.
9. Bill Gates
The most well known individual to have made predictions on this virus is the cofounder of the Microsoft corporation. Although he began his career as a computer developer and programmer, he has devoted the last 20 years to health and medicine. In a recent interview with the Financial Times, a famous newspaper that emphasises on business and economic news, Bill Gates warns society that outbreaks will happen around every 20 years. Gates explains that individuals of society are now travelling much more often than people of other centuries, and is causing great risk of spreading viruses and infectious diseases. Human contact between individuals of different backgrounds is at its peak during travel, and causes people with different immunities to exchange bacteria that many bodies are not used to.
Furthermore, in a TED talk that took place in 2015, Gates states that the world is not prepared for the pandemic ahead, based on the effects of the Ebola virus crisis in 2014. He was certainly accurate in his predictions, due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak attacking the world economy and filling hospitals to maximum capacities with lack of supplies. Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, very little investments were made towards a pandemic safety plan. In the same TED talk, Gates stated that “the failure to prepare could allow the next epidemic to be dramatically more devastating than Ebola”. Once again, this world known business man is accurate in his predictions about the present pandemic.
Further evidence of his predictions is seen in a discussion about epidemics in 2018, where Bill Gates suggested a pandemic will occur within the following decade. Gates prediction happened within the next 2 years, further proving his prediction accuracy.
10. Dr. Luciana Borio
Former White House National Security Council (NSC) team member Luciana Borio, who specializes in pandemics, predicted the current pandemic. Dr. Borio warned her team in 2018 of a pandemic flu threat that will be the number one health security problem. Furthermore, she also predicted that scientists and politicians will not be ready to respond.
All of the mentioned public figures have all predicted some sort of virus affected human kind worldwide in the near future, and they have all been right. Although society was not prepared for this tragic pandemic as a whole, researchers are actively searching for a cure and strategies to deal with this virus.