The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 could provide some insight for the present as our world currently battles with the COVID-19 pandemic.
MONDAY, April 20, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The virus struck swiftly, stoking panic, fear and mistrust as it sickened millions and killed thousands -- and now, more than a century later, the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic offers lasting lessons for a world in the grip of COVID-19.
"The questions they asked then are the questions being asked now," said Christopher Nichols, an associate professor of history at Oregon State University, in Corvallis. "And while it's very rare that history provides a simple straightforward lesson for the present, this is one of those instances."
Experts say there are four key takeaways from 1918.
Here's the first: As devastating as the current pandemic may be, the Spanish flu pandemic remains the worst in world history -- by far, said E. Thomas Ewing, a history professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
By the time three waves of Spanish flu swept across the globe in 1918 and 1919, at least 50 million people were dead, including 675,000 Americans. (By comparison, flu pandemics in 1957, 1968 and 2009 claimed an estimated total of 225,000 Americans and 3 million people worldwide.)
Here's the second takeaway: There are key differences between 1918 and the COVID-19 pandemic.