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Times are troubling right now. I watched a video on YouTube where the years 1999, 2012, 2016, 2019, and 2020 were talking about the worst things that happened during their years. It is almost unquestionable 2020 pretty much won, Y2K has nothing on Covid-19. It is terrible for us, but how will we remember the Coronavirus in the future?
Flu Pandemic Of 1918
I hear people constantly compare the Coronavirus Pandemic to the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918. Really? People are comparing the current pandemic to one of the the worst pandemics known in not only modern history but in all history? The one which killed over 50 million people (2.5% of the world population at the time)? The one where the world ran out of coffins?
The numbers are still changing, but at the time I published this post Johns Hopkins University reported that a little over 2 million confirmed cases and fewer than 200 thousand people died from the novel Coronavirus. That is devastating, but the numbers are still not comparable to the Flu Pandemic of 1918, 500 million infected, over 50 million dead. The ratio of confirmed cases to deaths are comparable to the Flu Pandemic of 1918, but that is it.
We Are Forgetting Something
We know much about viruses now and how quarantines can prevent spread of infection. Some could argue that people had no idea of how viruses nor quarantines worked back then. People had little idea about of what viruses were back then. Even reputable scientists thought viruses were a liquid. All people knew was that viruses are infectious agents. They have used quarantines to try to contain the spread that sound similar to measures today.
But a global war was still going on. Businesses may have closed down, but was it on the same level as today? Governments would struggle to supply millions of troops with guns and bullets if factories were closed down to the levels they are today. In fact, historians suggest that the war efforts prevented the necessary measures needed to combat this pandemic. It is hard to social distance in barracks and impossible in trenches or tanks. Furthermore, most medical personnel were involved in the war. That left very few doctors for civilians. How could you convince world leaders to stop a war to slow the spread of an agent that for all you knew could be apparitions?
The Coronavirus And Pandemic Of 1918 Are Not Comparable
How we remember the Flu Pandemic of 1918 is a time where people were scared of a disease. However, patriotism tends to win over fear. Governments prioritized war efforts over quarantine efforts. Truth is, even the most criticized quarantine policies today are a massive improvement compared to every quarantine method implemented during the 1918 Flu Pandemic.
Also medicine is far better. Blood transfusions and X-rays were revolutionary medical breakthroughs at the time. Now we have monoclonal antibodies that can modify how our immune systems fight disease, antivirals, and machines including respirators that save patients’ lives. Imagine how many people would have died now if all we had to fight the Coronavirus were blood transfusions, we could have numbers far more comparable to the 1918 Flu Pandemic.
Policies And Technology Have Improved Immensely Pandemics Are No Longer What They Used To Be
We may compare the Coronavirus Pandemic to the Flu Pandemic of 1918. The diseases and even the biochemistry of the two viruses may be comparable. But our behaviors during these time are not comparable. Some people may not listen to the rules of social distancing, heck some may even cough on you on purpose. But most people are staying inside, masking up, social distancing. Some are even volunteering to help people who are stuck and need help. Our quarantine efforts have helped to minimize the spread of this novel virus, which is more than what many will say was done in 1918. For all we know, this is what prevented the Coronavirus Pandemic from being similar to the Flu Pandemic of 1918.
For the novel Coronavirus to be as deadly as the Spanish Flu, 200 million people worldwide would have to die. Even the most apocalyptic estimates come no where close to those numbers. We will not remember the Coronavirus Pandemic like we do the 1918 Flu Pandemic. How we will remember the Coronavirus Pandemic will be far more comparable to the Swine Flu Pandemic. The difference between the two was that there were some people who had a natural immunity to the Swine Flu while there is not a large demographic with Covid-19. That is why Covid-19 may be a little deadlier, but it is not there yet.
Chances are you remember the Swine Flu Pandemic now, but I honestly forgot about it until now. Heck I am already forgetting about it with every word I write. To me, the Swine Flu Pandemic was a pandemic that was over almost as soon as it started. Now the jokes about Swine Flu are as obsolete as floppy disks. Yet somehow we recycled the jokes about our reactions to Swine Flu to match current events. To refresh these jokes, switch Swine Flu with Covid-19. Pandemics come and go, but we are pretty constant, you just may not tell by the lack of greenhouse gas emissions right now.
Humans have studied diseases and invented marvels in medicine that help save lives. We did not accomplish so much to have our world end by a virus that causes the common cold (a little oversimplified, but true). The Coronavirus is scary, that’s what the quarantine policies were for. In the US experts suggest that the curve has been flattened and that we can start easing re-openings. Of course there are still many bumps to go through, but things may start going back to normal.
How we will remember the Coronavirus is as a bad time in history. Things were scary. But when the Coronavirus Pandemic is over, either by a vaccine, strong herd immunity, or just disappearing like H1N1 in 1919, things should return back to normal for the world. The current pandemic may have affected you more than others. The road to recovery will be harder for you than others. The world will not be the same to you, but you will brave through it like your other hardships.