NOSTRADAMUS predicted the coronavirus pandemic in 1555, according to bizarre claims made on social media.
Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has infected more than 420,000 people since it first appeared in China last November. The newly discovered pathogen has spread to virtually every corner of the planet, killing in the process more than 21,000 people as of 7.20am GMT (2.20am EST) on March 26.
The way in which the virus appeared without warning, has led many to speculate whether the virus is supernatural in origin.
Some people have said the virus is a harbinger of doom, foretold in the Christian Book of Revelation.
Others have said the self-titled psychic Sylvia Browne warned the world of coronavirus in a book she wrote 12 years ago.
Some, however, claim the 16th-century physician and supposed clairvoyant, Nostradamus, predicted the pandemic.
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Nostradamus’ followers credit the man with predicting many world events, including the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963.
Hundreds of conspiracy theorists have now taken to social media to claim Nostradamus knew of coronavirus nearly 500 years ago.
One person said: “Think about it, Nostradamus predicted Prophecies for 2020 would be marked by a major economic crisis: Bankruptcy, recession and dark times for the global economy.
“The Simpsons’ predictions include Trump presidency, this year’s Super Bowl, the Coronavirus epidemic, Kobe’s death.”
Another person said: “Nostradamus has haunting prophecies of this happening… #COVID19 #coronavirus.”
A third person said: “Did you hear Nostradamus predicted the COVID-19 pandemic more than 400 years before it happened? #Nostradamus #Covid19TR #Coronavirus”.
Nostradamus’ writings are exploited in a number of fallacious ways
But where are these outrageous claims coming from?
Nostradamus penned his supposed prophecies of the future in cryptic, four-lined poems known as quatrains.
The bulk of Nostradamus’ writings were published in 1555, in his magnum opus Les Propheties.
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In one such quatrain, Nostradamus wrote: “Near the gates and within two cities
“There will be two scourges the like of which was never seen,
“Famine within plague, people put out by steel,
“Crying to the great immortal God for relief.”
In another passage about the plague, Nostradamus said: “Newcomers, place built without defence,
“Place occupied then uninhabitable:
“Meadows, houses, fields, towns to take at pleasure,
“Famine, plague, war, extensive land arable.”
Most sceptics, however, agree Nostradamus’ prophecies are too vague to decipher or link to modern-day events.
Brian Dunning, host of the Skeptoid podcast believes Nostradamus’ prophecies can only be interpreted with a great deal of hindsight.
He said on his podcast: “Nostradamus’ writings are exploited in a number of fallacious ways.
“Ambiguous and wrong translations, ‘creative’ interpretations, hoax writings, fictional accounts, and the breaking of non-existent codes within his quatrains all contribute to a vast body of work, all of it wrong, and many times the size of everything Nostradamus ever actually wrote.”