COVID deaths overtake 1918 flu deaths


Deaths from COVID-19 in the United States have now exceeded the estimated 675,000 deaths during the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic, but SARS-CoV-2 did not claim as many victims as this pandemic.

With a national population of about 103 million people at this time – about a third of the current total of 330 million Americans – the 1918 pandemic killed about 1 in 150 people in the United States; COVID has killed 1 in 500 Americans.

Globally, the 1918 flu also wreaked more havoc than COVID, infecting an estimated 500 million people, or one-third of the world’s population at that time. He killed around 50 million people around the world, according to CDC estimates.

SARS-CoV-2 has infected nearly 230 million people worldwide and killed 4.7 million.

There are many reasons for the differences in infection and mortality. The 1918 pandemic struck as the world was embroiled in World War I and international travel was frequent; hospitals did not have the same drugs and technologies to treat patients; the cause of the disease was not identifiable and therefore a test, targeted treatment or vaccine was not possible.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, travel around the world has come to a halt, and public health measures such as social distancing and masking were implemented relatively quickly, vaccines were produced in record time, and treatments have been studied in real time, a few have proven useful (with more still in development).

Yet disinformation and disinformation campaigns have hampered the effectiveness of some of these approaches in the United States, and the virus has thrown a curve ball at mankind with the much more transmissible Delta variant.

“Since May, [more than] 100,000 Americans have lost their lives needlessly because they chose not to be vaccinated, ” tweeted Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “They were victims of the vile but unopposed anti-science aggression from 3 sources: the far right, including members of the US Congress, governors, conservative news outlets; the ‘dozen of disinformation ” identified by the CCDH; and Russian propaganda. “

With the United States now averaging some 2,000 deaths a day and the potential for high and sustained levels of transmission to spawn another variant, SARS-CoV-2 can still wreak much more havoc. It remains to be seen if this ever reaches the proportions of the H1N1 of 1918.

The comparison to the influenza pandemic of 1918 also serves as a reminder of the risk posed by influenza. Since 1918, three other influenza pandemics have occurred in the United States: H2N2 in 1957, H3N2 in 1968 and H1N1 in 2009. These pandemics were all much less severe than the first H1N1 pandemic. But that doesn’t mean another deadly flu outbreak – or another deadly coronavirus – is out of place.

A reflection on the progress made since the 1918 pandemic by two CDC scientists Posted in Science for the centenary of this epidemic concludes: “The philosopher George Santayana underlined: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.’ We are undoubtedly more prepared in 2018 for an infectious disease threat than in 1918. But it is essential to remember that preparedness only stems from a global commitment to share data on viral isolates, to support the innovative research and devote resources to pandemic risk assessment. new and emerging influenza viruses from zoonotic reservoirs. “

  • Kristina Fiore leads the corporate reporting and investigative team at MedPage. She has been a medical journalist for over a decade and her work has been recognized by Barlett & Steele, AHCJ, SABEW and others. Send story tips to [email protected] To follow

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