A woman and a child walk past a field of white flags on the Mall near the Washington Monument on September 16, 2021 in Washington DC.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, COVID-19 is set to become the deadliest epidemic in recent US history, close to estimated mortality in the United States from the pandemic of the 1918 flu.
Johns Hopkins data showed deaths in the United States from Covid approached 675,000 on Monday, with an average of more than 1,900 deaths per day. The country is currently experiencing another wave of new infections, driven by the rapidly spreading delta variant.
the 1918 flu – three waves, spring 1918, fall 1918; And the winter and spring of 1919 – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 675,000 Americans died. It has been considered the deadliest pandemic in recent history.
“I think we’ve done pretty well with the historical comparisons now,” said Dr. Howard Merkel, a physician and medical historian at the University of Michigan. He said it was time to stop looking back to 1918 as a guide to how to act in the present and start thinking before 2021.
“This is the pandemic that I will teach and teach the next generation of doctors and public health students,” he said.
Certainly, Merkel and other health experts say that, given the vast technological, medical, social and cultural advancements over the past century, a direct side-by-side comparison of the raw numbers for each epidemic does not provide the full context. . East.
Health experts and statisticians say it’s important to consider population when talking about epidemics or disasters.
For example, in 1918, the American population was less than a third of what it is today, with about 103 million people living in the United States just before the 1920s. Today, about 330 million people live in the United States, which means the 1918 flu killed around 1 in 150 Americans, while 1 in 500 have died from Covid so far.
Experts say the 1918 virus also killed differently from Kovid. With World War I there was a great movement of men across America and Europe. While the coronavirus can be particularly serious for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, the 1918 virus was unusual in that it killed many young adults.
Globally, the 1918 flu killed more people, around 20 to 50 million, according to the World Health Organization. According to data from Johns Hopkins, Covid has so far killed around 4.7 million people worldwide.
Unlike today, there was no vaccine for the 1918 flu. There was also no CDC or National Department of Public Health. The Food and Drug Administration existed but was made up of a very small group of people. In addition, there were no antibiotics, intensive care units, ventilators, or IV fluids.
Scientists hadn’t even seen a virus under a microscope. They lacked the technology and knew next to nothing about virology, which was considered neonatal because viruses are physically smaller under a microscope and more difficult to identify than bacterial infections.
“Obviously 100 years later we now have much better benefits,” said Dr. Paul Offitt, who advises the FDA on COVID vaccines, adding he is “disappointed”.
He said America is now in a worse situation than it was a year ago, as a large part of the country’s population lives without vaccination.
Offit said: “I can tell you that we are also seeing a lot of children in hospital who have high risk conditions and the problem is not that they did not receive their third dose. The problem is, they are not vaccinated. Director of the Center for Vaccine Education at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Merkel agreed that the United States has made progress, adding: “The reality is that we have no historical precedent at this point. “