Since mid-May, people online have been sharing an excerpt from a 2003 TV series that eerily seems to predict the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. In the scene, the actors talk about a virus that originated in China, which can be treated with chloroquine. Some people interpreted this scene as proving conspiracy theories that Covid-19 was orchestrated. The FRANCE 24 Observers team spoke to the person who wrote this episode of the series "Dead Zone” to find out the real story.
In the excerpt that has been circulating online – which is about 2’30” – the actors talk about a "virus from China" that causes a high fever and respiratory complications. To avoid contaminating others, people exposed to the virus were put in quarantine for long periods. The next sequence shows one of the characters having a dream where his unconscious reveals to him that chloroquine can be used as a cure. The excerpt ends with the main character realising that his vision was right and that chloroquine really does cure people with the virus.
The posts all mention the strange parallels between the clip and the Covid-19 pandemic, including the mention of the controversial treatment chloroquine. One social media user claimed (in French) that the CIA had been using the movies to announce their upcoming projects to people in the know.
The excerpt comes from episode 14 in season 2 of the American series "Dead Zone". The main actor, Anthony Michael Hall, plays a man who went into a coma after being injured in a car accident. When he wakes up six months later, he can see the future through strange visions.
However, if you watch the episode, which is called "Plague", then it is easy to spot the differences between the situation in the film and reality. The main character has a vision that shows children in a school all becoming ill with the virus. He tells the town sheriff to quarantine the school until he finds a way to treat the children. On the other hand, Covid-19 seems to mostly spare children, with only a very small percentage affected (about 2% of the cases).
However, in the video that is currently circulating online, the scenes showing the children and the school being quarantined have been edited to make it look more like the current situation. Below, you’ll see an excerpt from the episode that includes the part about the sick children.
The FRANCE 24 Observers team spoke to the person who wrote this episode of "Dead Zone". Her name is Jill Ellen Blotevogel and she said she did a lot of research before writing the episode:
My goal for the [Dead Zone] plotline was to come up with a cure that would have taken weeks or months or years to find through normal medical research – an outlier/rare possibility. In my research, I found an actual case where someone who was suffering from malaria as well as a coronavirus was treated with an anti-malarial drug that happened to kill his virus as well. It was one very isolated case that gave me an interesting solution for my FICTIONAL plotline.
The plotline that Blotevogel wrote isn’t too surprising, given the context at the time. Between 2002 and 2004, a coronavirus known as Sars-Cov-1 (which is often called SARS) appeared in the province of Guangdong, China. SARS killed at least 774 people, most of them in China, Hong Kong or Taiwan. In total, about 8,000 cases of the virus were reported. Online, you can find several examples of medical literature referencing the fact that some patients seemed to respond positively to chloroquine.Blotevogel wrote that episode 17 years ago and she says she no longer has notes from her research. She also doesn’t remember much about the isolated case that she based the episode on. She’s not sure what country it was in. However, she did say:
But, it was a total longshot cure. I was in no way suggesting that chloroquine is a cure for a coronavirus. Simply that the particular fictional one that I came up with had this bizarre out-of-left-field cure.
The excerpt in the video comes from episode 14 of season 2 of the American series "Dead Zone" but it was edited to remove the fact that the fictional illness affected children, unlike Covid-19.
This scenario was based on an isolated case that the author discovered in her research.
Article by Alexandre Capron (@alexcapron)