The Spanish flu and COVID-19

These two pandemics existed a hundred years apart from one another, but they still share many similarities.

The Spanish flu, or more commonly known as Influenza, was an incredibly deadly influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus. The wartime ensured the spread of the flu. It lasted from February 1918 to April 1920. It infected 500 million people in four waves. The death toll is estimated to have been somewhere between 17 million and as high as 100 million, making influenza one of the deadliest pandemics in human history. 

COVID-19, or just Covid is a respiratory illness, like Influenza. It is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or just (SARS-CoV-2). We don’t know the exact birthplace of the virus, but it’s known that it began in the territory of Wuhan, China. As of December 3rd, COVID-19 has infected around 64 million people and killed about 1.5 million people. The incredible spread of this virus is still being researched, but it’s thought that the lack of symptoms in the first few days made it impossible to trace.  

An Economic-History Lesson for Dealing with the Coronavirus | The New Yorker

Influenza and COVID-19 have a lot of similarities, and you’d be surprised to see how many they share:

  • Both have been documented to not have any symptoms, or take a full week to gain them.

  • Both can have been severely deadlier in colder, and less humid regions.

  • Both can cause complications, such as in cardiac injury, or pneumonia.

  • Both can be spread without any symptoms.

  • Both spread from person-to-person, mostly by shaking hands, or by infected surfaces. 

  • Both are significantly more dangerous to older and pregnant people.

  • In both cases there were numerous protests against the closed jobs.

Let’s not repeat our mistakes, but learn from them. If we don’t do the right thing, there will be consequences. In 1920, there were at least 1.5 billion people in the world during the pandemic, and there are 7.5 billion of us now. The risk is immense, so whatever you do, try to stay safe, because when you are, you are saving everyone around you.

Works Cited

CDC. “Flu Symptoms & Complications.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 July 2020, Editors. “Spanish Flu.” HISTORY, A&E Television Networks, 12 Oct. 2010,

Pitt, Sarah. “Does Coronavirus Spread More Easily in Cold Temperatures? Here’s What We Know.” The Conversation, 29 Oct. 2020,

Roser, Max, and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina. “World Population Growth.” Our World in Data, May 2019,

Taylor, Alan. “Photos of the 1918 Flu Pandemic - The Atlantic.”, 10 Apr. 2018,

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