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In this article, we take a look back at some of the other pandemics that humans have endured. Specifically, we investigate cholera, the Black Death, and the Spanish flu, among others. We will note any similarities and take lessons where we can.
Few people reading this today will remember outbreaks on this scale, but history shows us that although it is devastating, what we are experiencing now is nothing unusual.Although HIV is also caused by a virus, there are significant differences between the two current pandemics; the most obvious being their means of transmission. This is not the case with SARS-CoV-2; all age groups seem to be equally likely to contract it, and older adults are most at risk of developing severe illness. The basic reproduction number (R0) of swine flu is 1.4 to 1.6. This means that each individual with swine flu is likely to transmit the virus to an average of 1.4 to 1.6 people. COVID-19, however, generally affects children in relatively minor ways, and adults aged 20–40 are significantly less likely to develop severe symptoms than older adults.The virulent nature of this particular H1N1 strain and the lack of medication available made this the most severe pandemic in recent history.To understand why mortality rates are so difficult to calculate, Medical News Today recently published an article on the topic.Although the Spanish flu pandemic has many differences to today’s COVID-19 pandemic, it teaches us a valuable lesson about the effectiveness of quickly implementing physical distancing measures, or social distancing measures.As one author writes, “The costs of [Philadelphia’s] delay appear to have been significant; by the time Philadelphia responded, it faced an epidemic considerably larger than the epidemic St. Louis faced.”
Severe acute respiratory syndrome In short, surveillance, the isolation of those who contracted it, and strict quarantine measures halted the progress of SARS. As one paper puts it, “By interrupting all human-to-human transmission, SARS was effectively eradicated.” Even if traditional public health measures are not able to fully contain the outbreak of COVID-19, they will still be effective in reducing peak incidence and global deaths.” The majority of cases now occur in Africa. Thanks to improvements in medicine and hygiene, the disease has not reached pandemic proportions since the Black Death. People also started to hold fragrant handkerchiefs against their mouths when in public, and this might have reduced the risk of infection and transmission.