In The Coronavirus, Historians See Echoes of Past PandemicsHistorians in the News
tags: historians, epidemics, Spanish flu, coronavirus, COVID19
When a mysterious new coronavirus started to spread out of Wuhan, China, last year, fear began to grow that it would turn into a new global pandemic.
Now, months after reports of an outbreak began, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has infected nearly 100,000 and killed just over 3,300 people around the world — a rapid spread in which some historians see parallels to deadly historical diseases.
Graham Mooney, a medical historian at Johns Hopkins University, told Futurism that the ongoing coronavirus outbreak bears a number of striking similarities to past outbreaks like Smallpox and Ebola — and especially to the Spanish flu pandemic that killed tens of millions around the world during the years between 1918 and 1922.
We’re about three months into the coronavirus outbreak, whereas the real devastation of the 1918 flu began about six to seven months in, after the virus started to cause deadly, rapidly-developing bacterial infections and pneumonia deep in patients’ lungs.
And while there are major obvious differences, one disturbing takeaway is that political leaders — and to a lesser extent the communities they govern — are making the same mistakes they did in the past.
“I think what that means,” Mooney said, “is public health as an endeavor, as a professional career, hasn’t quite gotten it right yet when it comes to convincing those in power to make the right decisions.”
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