Did The Simpsons And Comic Series Asterix Predict The 2019 Coronavirus Outbreak?

Uncanny coincidence? Not really. Coronavirus is a family of viruses and was discovered decades ago.

Social media posts suggesting the makers of the comic book series Asterix and the TV show The Simpsons were prophetic in predicting the deadly 2019 novel Coronavirus, are false.

The Coronavirus has existed even before its namesake comic character.

Moreover, the viral screenshot of a Simpsons episode has been doctored with the word 'Coronavirus' added to it. That particular episode was an exaggeration about a flu epidemic and did not name the virus - Coronavirus.

Coronavirus is a family of viruses that create flu like symptoms and are found in both animals and humans. The Coronavirus family was first diagnosed in in the 60s.

The World Health Organization recently said it was calling the virus and the disease outbreak as COVID-19. The current COVID-19 is just one particular strain from the family.

Over the past few days, several netizens have shared a series of snapshots from The Simpsons with the claim that the show had predicted the Coronavirus outbreak years ago. The Simpsons is an animated show that is a satirical take on middle class life and is set in the fictional town of Springfield.

Twitter users also shared snippets from the French comic Asterix suggesting that the authors knew about the existence of Coronavirus and had also predicted an outbreak.

Many Twitter users also mentioned that the character Coronavirus is defeated in the end thus predicting how the world will tackle the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Also Read: Did Dettol Know About Coronavirus Outbreak Beforehand? A FactCheck

These claims have been shared by netizens globally. Several news organizations such as The Times of India and Times Now also reported about the uncanny similarity with the Asterix character named Coronavirus.

Fact Check

The Simpsons

The Simpsons has been running since 1989 and is now in its 31st season. The much debated episode and clip is from 1993 which was the show's fourth season. This episode discusses a virus called 'Osaka Flu' from Japan and not the Coronavirus in China.

In the episode, titled 'Marge in Chains', aired in May 1993 shows that most of Springfield's residents have purchased 'Juice looseners' from the mall which are shipped from Osaka, Japan. One of the packagers has the flu and transmits his germs in the package meant for Homer Simpson. The looseners spread the Osaka flu in Springfield.

In a 4:21 second clip of the episode, at 1:14 seconds, the Springfield news anchor Kent Brockman is shown to discuss the spread of a hypothetical cat flu that could hit Springfield. Simultaneously, at 2:35 seconds, Brockman is discussing the Osaka flu that has spread through the Juice looseners.

Difference between original image and doctored image

Discussion of the Osaka flu

The claim seemed convincing to many as real life has sometimes mirrored the show's bizarre plotlines. In the year 2000, the show had an episode where Donald Trump was the president of the United States, 16 years before Trump took office.


Asterix is a comic book series about the adventures of Gaulish warriors in the Roman Empire during the era of Julius Caesar, was published first in 1959.

The current illustration written by Thibaut Deleaz was featured in the comic's 37th edition in 2017 showing a masked crusader called Coronavirus and his partner Bacillus (Latin for bacteria. This illustration came two years before the outbreak in China.

The archived version of the comic shows the character Coronavirus being introduced on pages 15 and 16 of the comic. Read the archived version here.

Archived version of the 37th edition of the comic

Coronavirus, are a family of viruses that are 'zoonotic'- found in animals and humans. Some of them infect people and are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. The recent outbreak is just one such type. Severely Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) belong to the same family of viruses.

There are seven Coronaviruses that have infected humans till date. The first four are commonly found in humans while the last three are specific and have emerged since 2000.

1. 229E (alpha coronavirus)- Causes common colds but also severe lower respiratory tract infections in the youngest and oldest age groups

2. NL63 (alpha coronavirus)- An important cause of (pseudo) croup and bronchiolitis in children

3. OC43 (beta coronavirus)- Causes common colds but also severe lower respiratory tract infections in the youngest and oldest age groups

4. HKU1 (beta coronavirus)- Causes common colds but also severe lower respiratory tract infections in the youngest and oldest age groups

5. MERS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS) in 2012

6. SARS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS) in 2002

7. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) causing COVID-19

Misinformation surrounding COVID-19

The recent outbreak has triggered a flood of misinformation surrounding the origin and cause, effects, prevent and cure along with unrelated and misleading narratives through images and videos of the COVID-19 have been in circulation. Below is a thread of BOOM's fact-checks debunking the most viral pieces of misinformation.

Also Read: False: Chicken Infected With Coronavirus In Bangalore

Updated On: 2020-02-12T16:27:46+05:30
Claim :   Asterix and Simpsons foretold China outbreak
Claimed By :  Social media users
Fact Check :  Misleading
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