If it feels like we’re living in a disaster movie at the moment, that’s probably because there’s been so much famous fiction chronicling deadly pandemics in the past.
One of the many novels about the rapid spread of a virus is The Stand by Stephen King — a story which details the collapse of the U.S. after a weaponised influenza strain gets accidentally released.
Earlier this month, back before social distancing measures were introduced across America, and prior to COVID-19 being officially called a pandemic by the World Heath Organisation (WHO), King tried to put a stop to the comparisons.
No, coronavirus is NOT like THE STAND. It’s not anywhere near as serious. It’s eminently survivable. Keep calm and take all reasonable precautions.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) March 8, 2020
It’s obvious why he tweeted that — with its “99.4 percent communicability”, the superflu in King’s novel wipes out the majority of the human race. The mortality rate doesn’t compare to that of COVID-19, which has been put between 1 and 3.4 percent.
But still, there are undeniable similarities.
On Sunday, less than two weeks after his initial tweet, King is now appearing to embrace the comparisons, using a chapter from The Stand as a warning.
Chapter 8, in a nutshell, chronicles just how quickly the fictional, highly contagious disease spreads. Honestly, it hits pretty close to home. Here’s a snapshot:
“Joe-Bob felt fine. Dying was the last thing on his mind. Nevertheless, he was already a sick man. He had gotten more than gas at Bill Hanscombe’s Texaco. And he gave Harry Trent more than a speeding summons. Harry, a gregarious man who liked his job, passed the sickness to more than 40 people during that day and the next. How many those 40 passed it to is impossible to say – you might as well ask how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. If you were to make a conservative estimate of five a piece, you’d have 200. Using the same conservative formula, one could say those 200 went on to infect a thousand, the thousand five-thousand, the five-thousand twenty-five-thousand.
Under the California desert and subsidised by the tax payers’ money, someone had finally invented a chain letter that really worked.”
King followed the chapter up with a reminder about the importance of social distancing, the best weapon we’ve got to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, has now infected over 294,000 people worldwide. Almost 3,000 people have been killed.
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