FACT CHECK: Did A Video From 1956 Predict That ‘A New Virus Will Rise’ By 2020?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims to show a 1956 video that seemingly predicts the COVID-19 pandemic, saying: “Experts predict that by the year 2020, a new virus will rise, spreading from somewhere in Asia to the rest of the world.”

Verdict: False

The video was actually made in 2020 to make fun of misinformation surrounding the coronavirus, according to the video’s creator.

Fact Check:

The video, purportedly produced on Feb. 29, 1956, features black-and-white footage of industrial and domestic scenes while a narrator makes predictions of future technological advancements. Toward the end of the video, the narrator makes a prediction about a virus that will spread throughout the world in 2020.

“Experts predict that by the year 2020, a new virus will rise, spreading from somewhere in Asia to the rest of the world,” the narrator says. “And with international travel being available to even the most common citizen, a sickness which would have been contained in years past, will quickly spread to all corners of the globe.”

The video would seem to predict the COVID-19 pandemic. The novel coronavirus that caused COVID-19 first emerged in China in late 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization in March.

In reality, the video doesn’t date back to 1956. It actually comes from a longer satirical video, titled “1950s PSA: ‘Avoiding the Future Plague,'” that was shared on writer and comedian Max Schlienger’s YouTube channel RamsesThePigeon. (RELATED: Did The CDC Release Data Showing Face Masks Are ‘Collecting’ COVID-19?)

“It’s hilarious to look back on what people from the 1950s thought the future would be like!” the YouTube video’s caption reads. “Archival and public domain footage was acquired from Archive.org. Also, yes, I only threw this together because I wanted to have a video upload on February 29th.”

Some of the footage in the video does, in fact, come from decades-old films, including the 1940 short film “Leave It to Roll-Oh” and the 1956 public service documentary “Tornado,” both of which can be found on the Internet Archive. Schlienger did the voice-over narration for the video himself, per AFP Fact Check.

“The intent behind the video was to make fun of the more popular parts of the misinformation that was spreading at the time,” Schlienger told AFP. “Namely that Covid-19 was a largely harmless virus and the response to it was exaggerated.”

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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