It seems that a lot of shows have been predicting the coronavirus pandemic, and the latest discovery is a crazy episode of The Dead Zone that not only predicted a plague, but also predicted that chloroquine could help stop it. Later in this story, we’ll share a video compilation showing the moments that remind people of COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2.
The episode of The Dead Zone is called Plague. It’s Season 2 Episode 14 of the popular series starring Anthony Michael Hall, Nicole de Boer, Chris Bruno, and more. The episode first aired in July 2003, according to IMDb.
The description for the episode reads: “When J.J. falls prey to a deadly new virus sweeping across the Northeast, Johnny must use his powers to solve a medical mystery in time to save his son’s life.”
There are a lot of things about the episode that remind people of what’s happening now with the coronavirus. Here’s a compilation from the episode shared by Ari Novick on YouTube. Warning: this video and the story below have spoilers for the episode.
Johnny talks about how he saw a vision of a virus and he’s asked if it was SARS. He says that it’s highly infectious and maybe fatal and that’s all he knows. He suggests locking down the entire school so it doesn’t spread. Of course, people get mad about the idea of locking them all down. Then there’s a discussion about wearing masks, which is deemed a bad idea for political reasons.
In a later scene, they talk about how the virus is airborne and quite efficient. “Blood tests and swabs aren’t telling us much,” one character says. The virus causes high fever and respiratory distress. Unlike COVID-19, the incubation period for this virus is just 48 hours. There’s even a question on the board about heat, it appears, and why the virus wasn’t showing up in other cities.
Then there’s the fun line about how they have to solve it in this episode because the CDC would take months to track down the outbreak.
Later, they determine the virus originated in China. They talk about how long it took to isolate the coronavirus that caused SARS, and how this will take at least that long.
Even the photo of the virus reminds me a little of SARS-CoV-2. Johnny identifies the virus from a vision, but he’s told there’s no cure. Then Johnny writes on the board “CHLOROQUIN” in all caps. He’s told it’s an anti-malarial drug and he responds, “No, listen, it suppresses the enzymes!”
Johnny passes out and wakes up to learn that they started everyone on chloroquine and stopped the virus “dead in its tracks.” Then they add: “Now the CDC would have figured it out eventually, but not in time.”
Yes, there really are a lot of similarities to what’s happening now. But why?
The Dead Zone is a TV series based on the characters in Stephen’s King’s novel with the same name. The show aired from 2002-2006 on the USA Network.
The simplest explanation for the episode is that it was inspired by the SARS outbreak that happened in 2002. The episode aired in 2003, so SARS was still very much on people’s minds back then. In fact, you can trace most of the similarities to the 2002 SARS outbreak. SARS is in the same family as SARS-CoV-2, so it’s not surprising that there are similarities.
SARS first appeared in China in 2002 according to Google and caused an outbreak that was first identified on November 16, 2002. More than 8,000 people in 29 countries were infected and 774 people died. SARS was mostly contained by July 2003, but some cases were still identified until May 2004. Symptoms include fever, muscle pain, cough, sore throat, and other flu-like symptoms, and it can lead to shortness of breath and pneumonia. Chloroquine was seen to be a possible SARS inhibitor back then. Here’s one study about it, published in 2005. A 2004 study talks about in vitro inhibition. Here’s another article from The Lancet.
Thus, it’s apparent that there was enough information known about SARS back in 2002 to inform the writers of this Dead Zone episode. It’s no surprise that the episode is so similar to what we’re experiencing now, since SARS and SARS-CoV-2 are in the same family.
Another similar storyline was seen in Netflix’s My Secret Terrius. Learn more here.
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