Social media users baffled across the globe are sharing a scene from the Korean web series ‘My Secret, Terrius’ suggesting that the 10th episode of the series predicted the novel coronavirus pandemic. Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh and actor Meera Chopra were among those who shared the clip.
This is crazy . If you are home , go on Netflix now ……. Type “My Secret Terrius” and go to season -1 and episode 10 and move straight to 53 minutes point ! (P.S. this season was made in 2018 and we are in 2020) . This is shocking 😡😡😡 was it a plan ?? pic.twitter.com/KqTZwA1IO2
— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) March 26, 2020
BJP Delhi IT cell head Punit Agarwal also tweeted the scene and wrote that the show talks about a “biological weapon called coronavirus”.
— Punit Agarwal (@Punitspeaks) March 26, 2020
The episode in question can be watched below with English subtitles.
In the drama My Secret Terrius that was released in 2018 (UNIQ’s sungjoo was among the cast) they talked in details about the corona virus…. I had goosebumps… pic.twitter.com/nuQ3UYZlMR
— 🦄 (@eoeoes) March 18, 2020
The so-called prediction was also reported by media outlets –The Indian Express, OneIndia, The Hindu, The Quint, PTI, India Today, Navbharat Times, Dainik Jagran, Aaj Tak, and Live Hindustan among others.
Right-wing website OpIndia included the series in an article on ‘coronavirus predictions’.
The English translation of the dialogues is as follows:
Doctor: “We must do more research, but it looks like a mutant coronavirus.”
Agent: “Corona? Then MERS?”
Doctor: “MERS, SARS, the common flu. They all fall in the same gene family with the same gene information. The coronavirus attacks the respiratory system. During the 2015 MERS epidemic, the mortality rate was over 20 percent.”
Agent: “But that’s not serious enough to be used as a weapon. Am I wrong?”
Doctor: “Like I said, this is a mutant virus. Someone tweaked it to increase the mortality rate to almost 90 percent. What’s more serious is that the coronavirus has an incubation period of 2 to 14 days. This virus was mutated to attack the lungs directly within five minutes of being exposed. ”
In their conversation, the actors give the following details about the coronavirus.
1. Man-made mutant virus.
2. Mortality rate of 90%.
3. Attacks the lungs within 5 minutes of exposure.
Social media users have used the conversation to claim that the show predicted the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘My Secret, Terrius’ original title ‘Nae Dwie Teriuseu’ is a science-fiction drama series released in 2018 where a National Intelligence Service (NIS) agent helps a woman track her husband who gets involved in a conspiracy. To suggest that a fictional series ‘predicted’ the future in itself is preposterous. However, in the course of this fact-check, we will show that the ‘mutant coronavirus’ spoken about in the series is not similar to the novel coronavirus.
1. A. The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is not man-made.
Bogus claims about nCoV being engineered as a biological weapon have already been debunked by multiple platforms both national and international. A statement by public health scientists published in The Lancet says, “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin. Scientists from multiple countries have published and analysed genomes of the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging pathogens.”
As per a World Health Organisation (WHO) situation report from February 21, “The most likely ecological reservoirs for SARS-CoV-2 are bats, but it is believed that the virus jumped the species barrier to humans from another intermediate animal host. This intermediate animal host could be a domestic food animal, a wild animal, or a domesticated wild animal which has not yet been identified. ”
Another WHO situation report says, “There’s one paper that mentions the pangolin and that there’s some close association with the COVID-19 virus and that could be the intermediary host but that’s not the full story so there’s a lot of area of work that needs to be conducted to really identify the intermediate hosts…” Scientists in China are also researching if illegally traded pangolins were the intermediate host.
1. B. The novel coronavirus is a new strain in the coronavirus family.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states, “Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such a MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. In fact, there are many coronaviruses that infect different animals. Of those, from the mid-1960s till date, seven coronaviruses have been shown to infect humans. A novel coronavirus (nCoV) and its outbreak COVID-19 has not been previously identified in humans.
The most recent outbreak of varied forms of the virus, apart from the recent COVID-19 pandemic, is SARS-CoV or Severe Acute respiratory syndrome which was identified in 2002 in China and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV), first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
In the viral episode, the doctor makes a reference to both MERS and SARS. This in itself hints that the plot is inspired by previous coronavirus outbreaks and has nothing to do with COVID-19.
2. The estimated mortality of nCoV is 3-4%.
As per a WHO situation report from March 6, “While the true mortality of COVID-19 will take some time to fully understand, the data we have so far indicate that the crude mortality ratio (the number of reported deaths divided by the reported cases) is between 3-4%, the infection mortality rate (the number of reported deaths divided by the number of infections) will be lower.”
However, mortality rate depends on varied factors such as the quality of healthcare, the steps taken by particular countries to prevent the spread of the infection, the demographics of a region. Based on the data available on John Hopkins University and Medicine, the fatality rate in Italy is slightly above 10 percent. In contrast, the death rate in China, where the viral infection first emerged, is about 4 percent. The large number of deaths in Italy, despite near-draconian restrictions imposed on citizen movements, are linked to the country’s aged population.
Furthermore, the numbers may not be in perfect correlation to the infected population as many countries are focusing more on testing patients with severe symptoms or travel history. Those with mild symptoms are either not tested or advised home quarantine. The fatality rate in South Korea is among the lowest – 1.4 percent – despite the government not imposing a complete lockdown. “As of March 15, Italy had carried out about 125,000 tests. In contrast, South Korea – which implemented a strategy of widespread testing – has conducted some 340,000 tests, including for those showing mild or no symptoms at all,” reports Al Jazeera. Therefore, the mortality rate also depends on pro-active measures taken by countries.
No scientific or media reports put the death rate at 90 percent, which is the death rate of the mutant coronavirus in the Korean drama.
3. The novel coronavirus has an incubation period of 2-14 days.
In the series, the mutant CoV attacks the lungs within five minutes of exposure. The WHO Q&A on coronavirus says, “The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.”
The coronavirus research centre of the Harvard Medical School also gives a similar incubation period – 3 to 13 days. “Recently published research found that on average, the incubation period is about five days.”
Therefore, the claim that Korean drama series ‘My secret, Terrius’ predicted the COVID-19 outbreak is bogus, to say the least. The ‘mutant coronavirus’ featured in the series is not similar to the novel coronavirus.
Note: The number of positive cases of the novel coronavirus in India is over 900. This has caused the government to impose a complete restriction on movement apart from essential services. Globally, more than 6 lakh confirmed cases and close to 27,000 deaths have been reported. There is a growing sense of panic among citizens, causing them to fall for a variety of online misinformation – misleading images and videos rousing fear or medical misinformation promoting pseudoscience and invalid treatments. While your intentions may be pure, misinformation, spread especially during a global pandemic, can take lives. We request our readers to practice caution and not forward unverified messages on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.Print