In this article, we look back at some of the other pandemics that humans endure. Specifically, we investigate COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the H1N1 (Influenza A virus or Spanish flu), among others. We will observe similarities and will take lessons where we can. Firstly, it is worth explaining what “pandemic” means.  The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a pandemic word as

“The worldwide spread of a new disease.”

Pandemics have played a role in changing human history throughout the ages. Today, few people reading this and remember outbreaks on this scale, but history shows us that although it is devastating, what we are experiencing now is not unusual.

In this pandemic state, the age structure of those is affected a tension between whether COVID-19 is operating more like a seasonal viral effect or is similar in its impact on previous pandemics.

“The effect of SARS on age structuring is not explained by the theory of pandemic.”

― Carl Heneghan, Tom Jefferson

1918: The Spanish Flu Pandemic:

In 1918, health professionals detected an H1N1 or Spanish flu virus in US military personnel.

In Jan 1918 to Dec 1920, the Spanish flu or H1N1 virus, appears to have moved from birds to humans and infected an estimated 500M people. The Spanish flu spread from 1 to 3 people on Earth. The virus killed around 675K people in the US alone and approximately 50M worldwide.

The US Centre CDC estimated that 150K to 575K people died from H1N1 or Spanish flu pandemic virus infection in the first year of the outbreak.

  • 80% of the virus-related deaths were estimated to occur in those < 65 years of age.
  • In seasonal influenza epidemics, about 70% to 90% of deaths occur in people ≥65.

Points later confirmed by the WHO:

“Typical seasonal influenza causes most of its deaths among the elderly, while other severe cases occur most commonly in people with a variety of medical conditions.

By contrast, this H1N1 pandemic caused most of its severe or fatal disease in younger people, including those with chronic conditions and healthy persons. It caused many more cases of viral pneumonia than is typically seen with seasonal influenza”.

In 1918, the most significant facilitator in the global spread of the Spanish flu was World War I.

“To prevent the flu, you people stay at home. To promote the war, you want people out on the streets. All of these things worked against the flu.”, Lyons-Carmona says.

The “Spanish Flu” believed to have originated at US military base in Fort Riley, Kan. When US soldiers sent in Europe, they brought the virus, infecting many soldiers and spreading the virus into the civilian population.

 “As soon as these people came towards the US, an outbreak would start within the US military and then within days, spill over into the civilian,” Lyons-Carmona says.

2020: The COVID-19 Pandemic:

As with COVID-19, adults were most at risk of developing severely damaged healthy immune systems. However, in contrast to COVID-19, the Spanish flu also affected children under the age of 5 years and adults 20 – 40 years old. At the age of 25 years, adults were more likely to die from the Spanish flu or H1N1 virus than a 74-year-old. The Spanish flu or H1N1 infection was unusual for the flu. COVID-19, however, generally affects children in the relatively lower level, and adults aged 20 – 40 are significantly less likely to develop severe symptoms than older adults.

The analysis of different countries and US states with at least 250 COVID-19 deaths on 4th of April reports, including individuals aged <65 years account for less than 10% of all COVID-19 deaths.

  • People <65 years old had 34 to 73 fold lower risk than those ≥65 years past in the EU countries
  • People aged <65 had 13 to 15 fold lower risk in NYC, Louisiana, and Michigan.

The WHO further stated that older people are at the highest risk:

  • Over 95% of deaths occurred in those > 60 years.
  • More than 50% of all deaths were people > 80 years or older.

The current COVID-19 pandemic is difficult to understand.

Additionally, some scientists believe that younger people’s vigorous immune responses might have led to more severe lung symptoms due to “exuberant pulmonary exudation.” In other words, the healthy immune system was unable to cope with the virus. Young lungs excessively filled with fluid. The disruption of cells leads to the difficulty of breathing.

At the time, there were no vaccines to prevent the disease and no antibiotics from treating the bacterial infections that sometimes developed alongside it. The Spanish flu was one destructive span in recent times. There was no medication in 1918.

Massive damage was recorded.  The pandemic situation came in two waves; the second was being more deadly than the first. However, rather abruptly, the virus disappeared. The death rate was recorded in 1918 was 2.5%.  At this stage, it is not easy to compare that with COVID-19 because estimates vary. To understand why mortality rates are so fathoming to calculate, Medical News Today recently published an article on the topic.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Pandemic:

In 2002, SARS became the 1st pandemic of the 21st century, and COVID-19, SARS due to coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV. It also originated in China.

Scientists believe SARS-CoV-2, virus which causes COVID-19, found in bats, moved into pangolins, then effected humans. Also, SARS-CoV began in bats, but it goes into civets before an individual. Both SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 transmitted through droplets of coughs and sneezes.

Wordly, SARS infected an estimated 8K people in 29 countries and had a mortality rate of around 10%. Estimates, higher than COVID-19’s mortality rate. Both SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 affect adults severely than younger ones. Around half of those over 65 years who contracted SARS died, compared with just 1% of people under 24 years. Moreover, COVID-19 seems more infectious than SARS and already spread too far more countries and killed many people than SARS.

Some of the Similarities:

  • SARS CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 is not the flu, but just like in 1918, there is no vaccine to deal with it.
  • Public health departments were in their infancy back then, and scientists “were on the edge of developing vaccines,” Effective vaccines to battle the coronavirus or Spanish flu tested. Still now, on parallel, the defense is similar to those available in 1918 which are social distancing, regularly disinfecting surfaces and hands, wearing masks, and avoid from touching your face or other things barehanded.
  • Bradford Luckingham wrote an article named “To mask or not to mask” on the 10th  of October 1918 he wrote: Public health departments shared guidance documents that we should take strict measures to combat the Spanish flu by closing public gathering and places. Mr. Blue also ordered physicians to report influenza A virus or H1N1 virus or Spanish flu cases immediately and said that those infected should quarantine.
  • Tucson Mayor O.C. Parker ordered that schools, churches, theatres, and all other places where people congregate should be closed. Police instructed to prevent people from gathering, tourism closed. In a week, 120 cases reported at the campus, hospitals filled with patients, and emergency hospitals were set up in the university gym to accommodate affected students.
  • In 2020, health departments know that masks aren’t complete protective measures, but have recommended their use. Another similarity Ms. Hegarty discovered was panic-buying.
  • “Great time for Vicks VapoRub,” she said. “They couldn’t keep in stock. According to the company’s website, VapoRub sales so increased during the pandemic and its manufacturing plant runs day and night, and sales rises from $900K to $2.9M in just one year.

How did we eradicate SARS Pandemic?

Within no time, the isolation of those who contracted it, and strict quarantine measures abruptly stop SARS’ progress. Ones write in its paper, “By stoping all human-to-human transmission, SARS will effectively be removed.”


The data we collected for our support for the comparison between both SARS-CoV-1 or Spanish flu and SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19. The SARS CoV-2 is slightly different from SARS Cov-1 like age structuring, transmission time and other factors. According to the above definition given by WHO about “Pandemic” does not explain the age structure they just explain in a general way, and it different from other SARS discuss above. Still, the purpose of the pandemic remains shifty.

Read my article: UN Report: COVID-19 pandemics is looming mental stress and anxiety


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