A Brief History Lesson

Let’s talk history.

Though it’s been a little while since we had a serious one, humans have been dealing with epidemics and disease for a long time. The last time we dealt with something on this scale was probably the Spanish Flu (the original H1N1) in 1918, during World War I. However, there are two major differences between the Coronavirus and Spanish Flu.

  1. We have a much better understanding of disease transmission and vastly better communication as we mentioned above, for bad and good.
  2. The high risk group for the Spanish Flu was males ages 18 - 24. In fact, the stronger the man, the more likely they were not to recover. You can imagine how men living in close proximity was a public policy health nightmare and was a large factor in making this the worst modern epidemic on the books. 

The Spanish Flu came in three waves in the United States.The first in the spring if 1918, it was so mild that it lulled the military establishments of the day into a false sense of security. The third wave was meh. That second wave though. That fall wave was the most lethal one of the three. Why was that? There are two possibilities for the differences in the lethality in the waves. One is that, in the spring, a more normal and milder influenza was spreading and that the Spanish Flu as a distinct virus didn’t actually arrive until the fall. The second possibility is that the virus mutated into the much more deadly strain later. Because of the science of the day, we will likely never know which.

Why bring this up? It is important to remember the past and not be lulled into a false sense of security for our current outbreak. Had we had the information and the public policy response currently being used, the lethality of this epidemic could have been significantly mitigated. 

Posted in History