The Pandemic of COVID-19 Compared to Other Pandemics

The spread of the novel COVID-19 has put the entire world to a halt. Yet, a lot of people come up with their own theories about how it started. Some even think it’s a hoax and that it is not actually so serious or risky. As for April 6th, 2020, there are 1,274,543 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a total of 69,487 deaths. The U.S is now at the top of the list of reported cases of about 336,830 confirmed cases; overcoming the tragedy of Italy. Most businesses are closed except for essential businesses and a lot of people are working from home in case they’re able to.

 

The main goal so far is to “flatten the curve”. The curve refers to a lot of graphs showcasing steep curves which demonstrated the number of cases diagnosed and treated in a very short period of time. Those curves indicate that the hospitals would be extremely overwhelmed. Through flattening the curve, the progression of the disease would be reduced, and outbreaks would be dispersed over a prolonged period of time in the expectation of allowing health care facilities to properly handle the outbreaks.

 

What’s concerning about COVID-19 is that it’s highly contagious and spreads easily from person to person through close contact.

 

As of April 1, here is how the death rate of COVID-19 compared to other pandemics that have grown far and wide, with disastrous consequences:

Source: Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

 

The Spanish Flu Versus COVID-19

The modern world has faced many pandemics throughout the last century. The influenza pandemic, known as the Spanish Flu, has been one of the worst and the deadliest. It was named the Spanish flu since it was believed to have occurred in Spain at the time. It was first identified in the United States by military forces in the spring of 1918. Around 500 million people worldwide were affected by the Spanish flu, which at the time was around a third of the world's population. The exact number of deaths is argued upon, some say it was 50 million deaths, others claim it’s 17.4 million deaths and others go as high as 100 million deaths.

The important difference between the two is that the majority of affected individuals in the 1918 pandemic were mostly stable and healthy adults between the ages of 20 and 40. Mortality was also greater in people younger than five years of age than 65 years of age and above. While the majority of affected individuals for COVID-19 are people aged 65 years of age with chronic health problems. Children tend to have much milder symptoms, for the most part.

 

In general, the fatality rate for the Spanish flu is estimated at about 2%. While for COVID-19, the global fatality rate is about 5% as of April 1st. Some analysts claim that the 5% statistic is considerably lower due to concerns as to the accuracy of China's case reporting.

The health care condition was a little worse in 1918, as hospitals were struggling with mass casualties and war victims, and many doctors were with the veterans, leaving medical students to take care of the flu cases. As for now, the pandemic is far from done, the health care condition is better due to a stronger understanding of how viruses and pandemics work, better health services, and improved access to hospitals.

 

Both pandemics have something in common though, they're called "novel," that is, they're so new that no one in either period had immunity against them. Another similarity is that there have been no vaccines for Spanish flu and there are actually no vaccines for COVID-19 at the moment.

 

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