On a lazy Sunday morning, I was sipping some tea comfortably seated in my sofa with the newspaper in hand which as usual had the disappointing news of the surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country. As apathy and pessimism slowly started to creep in, an intriguing thought popped up in my head. This is not the first time the world is witnessing a pandemic, a number of epidemics and pandemics have ravaged through time causing widespread deaths and infections, and yet humanity has consistently fought the battle and emerged victorious every single time. Instantly, I ran a quick google search and eventually spent the next couple of hours researching the deadliest pandemics in history. Here, I provide a snapshot of the three such pandemics and what we learnt from it.
1. The Third Plague Pandemic of 1855
It was a major bubonic plague pandemic that originated in the Yunnan region of China in 1855. This spread to most of the continents causing a severe surge in infections and deaths. This began as small multiple outbreaks in Southwest China and over the years spread to most of the major cities across the world affecting millions of people in the next thirty years. It was through consistent effort and awareness that humanity managed to tame the plague after years of fighting.
2. The Flu Pandemic of 1889–1890
The Flu pandemic, a deadly influenza disease that killed more than a million people worldwide, was the last great pandemic of the 19th century. It is still unclear as to what caused the outbreak but it spread to different parts of the world in no time. The first reported case was in the Russian empire and slowly but steadily spread across to the entire Eurasian region and then eventually to the Americas. The Americans initially downplayed the dangers that the virus posed until the death rates began to rise across the country. But by early February of 1890, the virus magically disappeared from lands of America and eventually from the world.
3. Spanish Flu of 1918–1920
The Spanish Flu was perhaps the deadliest of all the contemporary pandemics affecting over 500 million people worldwide in four consecutive waves. This influenza-like disease was very contagious and spread through human contact or through respiratory droplets. The first few cases and mortality were reported from the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the United States. Since it was during the time of the First World War, initial reports were censored and minimal. Later, the newspapers in neutral Spain, which was hit the hardest, began to report about the epidemic and hence earning the name ‘Spanish Flu’. But the real geographical origin of the virus is still unknown. During this period, the world witnessed several lockdowns at many places to contain the spread of the virus. Eventually, with persistent effort, the Spanish Flu was contained.
It is still with awe that I wonder how a tiny, invisible virus is able to cause such massive destruction and bring the entire world to its knees. But that being said, it is a lesson for all of us to rethink the way we live. These stories of previous such deadly outbreaks only prove to us that this too shall pass. We are all in this together and we shall fight together to come out successful. I don’t know when the vaccines will be out but I can tell with pride that the coronavirus pandemic will be behind us soon and the world will wake up to a beautiful sunny day, waiting to begin its hustle again.
sTill then, let’s stay safe and follow the guidelines!
The article is part of a series of information blogs put out by QURE, a telemedicine mobile app providing contactless medical care to thousands of users across India.
Find out more details on how technology can help us in this crucial juncture at www.QURE.in
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