• The late Sylvia Browne wrote a book in 2008 containing two sentences that seem to refer to the outbreak of COVID-19
  • "In around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe," she wrote
  • Browne also mentioned the epidemic will return in 2030

The search for answers to COVID-19 has inexplicably focused the spotlight on the late Sylvia Browne, a woman from Missouri who called herself a medium with psychic abilities. One of Browne's predictions made in 2008 is being bandied about in social media as foretelling the onslaught of COVID-19.

Browne's prediction of a forthcoming epidemic was written down in her book, "End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies About the End of the World." This book was one of some 40 she co-wrote on paranormal topics with a bevy of ghost writers in a career marked by a criminal conviction, criticisms of fraud and untold numbers of wrong predictions.

Despite her less than inspiring record, Browne retained her hold on her staunchest followers who paid up to $750 for exclusive psychic readings. It's said that in 2007, Browne had a four-year waiting list for readings by telephone.

Browne claimed she started seeing visions when she was only five years old. She began giving psychic readings when she was 38 and kept doing so until her death in 2013 at age 77. Ironically, she predicted in 2003 she'd die when she was 88 years old.

In her book are only two sentences about the plague we today call COVID-19.

Browne wrote: "In around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and the bronchial tubes and resisting all known treatments. Almost more baffling than the illness itself will be the fact it will suddenly vanish as quickly as it arrived, attack again ten years later, and then disappear completely."

Sentence one is remarkably accurate, especially the prediction of the year and this illness' predominant symptoms. Her prediction that this disease will be capable of "resisting all known treatments" is demoralizing and clouds efforts of scientists and doctors to speed-up development of the first COVID-19 vaccine.

The second sentence is a prophecy waiting to be fulfilled, and it would require a lot of patience to see if the pandemic would be repeated in 2030.

Media coverage of Browne's "prophecy" began in March and has forged ahead on social media ever since. Even Kim Kardashian gave it air time.

But given this is only one correct prediction in thousands of wrong ones leads skeptics to attribute it to nothing more than luck. American investigator and skeptic Benjamin Radford dismissed the two sentence prediction as more due to chance than to any psychic abilities Browne might have had. Considering Browne produced predictions by the thousands, "the fact that this one happened to possibly, maybe, be partly right is meaningless," argued Radford.

SARS-CoV-2 Scanning Electron Microscope Image
SARS-CoV-2 emerging from the surface of cells. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases