BY MARY H. WORTH
While it is true that the COVID-19/coronavirus calamity has thrown our country into confusion and consternation, is it really unprecedented? You decide.
The Spanish Flu
The Spanish flu was an H1N1 worldwide flu virus that lasted from January 1918 until December 1920. It was called the “Spanish” flu because reports gave a false impression that it had hit Spain harder than other countries, such as the US, the UK, Germany and France, who were censoring illness reports to maintain morale during the war. The estimated confirmed cases worldwide was 500 million, and the estimated deaths was somewhere between 17 and 50 million, including 650,000 in the US. It is one of the deadliest pandemics in human history. The Spanish flu caused a higher than expected mortality rate for young adults, as opposed to the very young and very old. And see if this sounds familiar:
“Even in areas where mortality was low, so many adults were incapacitated that much of everyday life was hampered. Some communities closed all stores or required customers to leave orders outside. There were reports that healthcare workers could not tend the sick nor the gravediggers bury the dead because they too were ill.”
Additionally, the Spanish flu, as with COVID-19, had no vaccine and no real treatment. As noted by the Centers for Disease Control:
“With no vaccine to protect against influenza infection and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections that can be associated with influenza infections, control efforts worldwide were limited to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings, which were applied unevenly.”
While you are at home, do your own research and decide – is COVID-19/coronavirus actually unprecedented [ but that word’s a bit exhausted – feel free to choose any of the numerous other synonyms – astonishing, atypical, bizarre, remarkable, surprising, uncommon, unexpected, unheard of, unusual, etc.]
Sources: Centers for Disease Control, Wikipedia.