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Officially, the COVID-19 pandemic has already killed more Americans than the flu virus at the beginning of the last century. According to Johns Hopkins University, the United States passed 675,000 deaths from the new coronavirus this Monday.
The pandemic caused by H1N1 influenza in 1918 is listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the deadliest in human history. Back then, he claimed the life of 50 million people around the world and they estimate that in the United States the disease left an estimated 675,000 deaths.
Pandemic similarities and differences
While it is true that COVID-19 exceeded that record in 2021, the pandemic at the beginning of the last century is still the most lethal due to several factors: lower population density in the United States, efforts in non-pharmaceutical treatments and medical science of that time was not prepared to sequence and later create an effective vaccine against the disease, totally contrary to the treatment of the new pandemic worldwide.
Stephen Kissler, an epidemiologist at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health, told CNN that today’s world made the same mistakes as in 1918 and in both cases took its toll at key points such as the relaxation of restrictive measures prematurely, a false sense of security among healthy young adults, and reliance on drugs not approved by the health authorities.
One of the radical differences between the two pandemics is the vaccine, at that time one was not available to fight the disease unlike now, but the point is that close to the 36% of the population in the United States is not vaccinated, which could have long-term consequences, such as new, more infectious and deadly variants, according to the CDC.
However, a similarity between the two pandemic events is that healthy young people between the ages of 20 and 40 were initially considered “invincible”, But it was the oppositeThis was the worst hit population in 1918 and it is now with COVID-19.
“We have absolutely seen, especially with the long COVID, that young people are far from invincibleKissler said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a pandemic as the worldwide spread of a disease. Nevertheless, there is no exact measure to determine when a job is finished. For example, the CDC documented that H1N1 influenza affected the United States during three waves between 1918 and 1919, but the virus continued to circulate in the country for 38 years.
For that reason, Kissler points out that vaccines are the best weapon forTo fight this and other types of diseases. Both the WHO and the CDC have warned that new variants of COVID-19 will emerge in the coming years even though the pandemic has already “ended.”
“Essentially what the vaccine does is give you your first and second exposure for free. without the severe symptoms of the diseaseKissler concluded.