The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic, with the spread of influenza lasting through the years 1918-1919.1 About one-third of the world’s population became infected with mortality rates high in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old and older.1 The coronavirus (Covid-19), on the other hand, is a higher risk for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.2 Back then the resources we have now were not available, which in this case is a vaccine. There is some concern with the spread of coronavirus and the lack of vaccines are what make this virus perhaps a little more troubling and to relate the coronavirus and influenza in today’s world is a misjudgment. Control efforts that were used for the influenza in 1918 consisted of isolation, quarantine, use of disinfectant, and limitations of gatherings.1 Due to lack of a vaccine such control measures taken back from the 1918 influenza pandemic are being used for the Covid-19 now in 2020. The precautionary measures government is taking for the coronavirus are helping to slow the transmission of the virus and the impact on the population most at risk.2 Covid-19 is a new virus in which no one has immunity, whereas the flu there is immunity built up seasonally in people.5
The coronavirus has now been declared a pandemic. Why is a pandemic a concern? Well pandemics can increase morbidity and mortality and cause economic, social and political disruption.3 Although some may compare Ebola and the Covid-19, with Ebola the transmission rate was slow to truly cause a pandemic3, whereas with Covid-19 the transmission rate is higher in respiratory droplets when infected people cough or sneeze.5 Clearly an economic shock is being experienced now with sports teams being stalled until further notice about the Covid-19 virus and stocks taking a plunge with everything being in the red. There is indeed fear sparked in some individuals in speaking of Covid-19, and the impact the virus has on our economy and loved ones. To reduce some of those fears there should be awareness on how to reduce the spread of Covid-19, which consist of washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer if soap and water is unavailable and avoid touching your face.4 Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces is also super important4, especially in restaurants and the like. If sick, stay home to avoid any other complications and have a safe 2020!
- 1918 Pandemic (H1N1 virus). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-pandemic-h1n1.html. Published March 20, 2019. Accessed March 12, 2020.
- People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html. Published March 10, 2020. Accessed March 12, 2020.
- Madhav N. Pandemics: Risks, Impacts, and Mitigation. Disease Control Priorities: Improving Health and Reducing Poverty. 3rd edition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525302/. Published November 27, 2017. Accessed March 12, 2020.
- Prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html. Published March 10, 2020. Accessed March 12, 2020.
- Katella K. 5 Things Everyone Should Know About the Coronavirus Outbreak. Yale Medicine. https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/2019-novel-coronavirus/. Published March 11, 2020. Accessed March 12, 2020.