While a virus outbreak with origins in the Chinese city of Wuhan marches out into the world in the new decade of 2020, a character in a 2017 Asterix comic series was actually called Coronavirus!
Asterix, the Gaul from the eponymous French comic faced Coronavirus, a masked Roman villain with a reputation of stopping at nothing to win.
In the 37th edition of the ”Asterix and the Chariot Race,” released in the year 2017, Asterix battles his way across Italy in a chariot race against the Romans.
Written by Thibaut Deleaz, an illustration from the edition — shared by Actor Jaaved Jaaferi on his twitter handle — shows “the Masked Auriga, the Great coronavirus” being introduced.
“Here comes our favourite, straight from Rome! The Champion with MCDL XII victories! The one they call the ”The Masked Augira”, the great coronavirus, and his faithful bacillus,” it says.
The original book ”Asterix et la Transitalique” sek baaet in ancient Italy was released over two years before Wuhan reported its first case of the new strain of coronavirus in December 2019.
Written by Jean-Yves Ferri and drawn by Didier Conrad the comic features Asterix and his sidekick Obelix participate in a chariot race across Italy organised by senator Caesar across Italy. they have to contend with the villain named Coronavirus and his sidekick Bacillus.
Bacillus is the Latin term for bacteria!
It is interesting to note that Coronavirus the masked villainous chariot racer eventually failed to win.
Meanwhile, while the outbreak is recent, the word coronavirus is not new.
The World Health Organisation describes coronavirus as a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
The SARS-CoV was identified in the year 2003.