• Emily Prescott

The Londoner: Tackling Covid? Johnson Snr has some novel advice

Boris Johnson may have a secret weapon against the novel coronavirus: his father Stanley’s novel The Virus.

“I happen to know he has reread it recently,” Johnson senior says, “as I sent him a copy.”

The Virus, published this year in May, originally came out as The Marburg Virus in 1982. It tells the story of Dr Lowell Kaplan, a “brilliant epidemiologist” who battles an unknown, deadly bug.

But if the Prime Minister takes tips from his father’s pandemic-fighting hero, he may be less keen on Stanley’s suggestion that coronavirus may have “escaped from a weapons laboratory”. Johnson senior tells Finito World magazine: “You can’t totally rule out the possibility that this was no accidental leak. In Wuhan, there is an Institute of Virology. There are still people out there interested in chemical and biological warfare: it can’t be discounted.”

Boris Johnson, the author himself of a number of books, including a biography of Churchill, may also find himself with literary support for future crises too. Stanley adds that a publisher is reissuing more of his books, including two environmental thrillers, one called The Warming. Once we’ve kyboshed coronavirus, it’s global warming next. Simples.

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