Is COVID-19 the Worst Pandemic of the last 200 years?

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SPANISH FLU (1918-20) infected 500 million people, about a quarter of the world’s population at the time. The death toll was anywhere from 40 million to 100 million, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history. As World War I was going on, censors minimized early media reports of illness and mortality in Germany, UK, France, and USA. Newspapers were free to report the epidemic’s effects in Spain (a neutral country in WWI), such as the grave illness of Spain’s King Alfonso XIII, and these stories created a false impression of Spain as especially hard hit and gave rise to the pandemic’s nickname “Spanish Flu”. There are many hypothesis about the actual source, the most popular ones suggesting that the pandemic originated in either UK or USA.

AIDS (1981-present), which peaked between the years 2005 and 2012, has claimed an estimated 30-36 million lives in the past 39 years.

ASIAN FLU (1957-58), which had its roots in China, resulted in 1 to 2 million deaths worldwide, with 116,000 in the USA alone.

HONG KONG FLU (1968-70), caused by an H3N2 strain of the influenza A virus, caused about 1 million deaths, including about 100,000 in USA alone.

The H1N1 SWINE FLU (2009-2010), which originated in Mexico, infected as many as 700 million to 1.4 billion people across the globe (10.2-20.4% of the then population) and killed between 200,000 and 284,000 people.

EBOLA (2014-16) ravaged West Africa, with 28,600 reported cases and 11,325 deaths.

These are the six most “deadly” pandemics suffered by the world in the past 200 years.

The COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS (also known as 2019-nCoV or SARS-CoV-2) has already crossed 31,000 deaths, thus already eclipsing EBOLA in just four months. Going by the average number of deaths worldwide in the past 3 days, the current Coronavirus will overtake the H1Ni Swine Flu in another 66 days.

The key question is, will our medical researchers and pharma companies be able to develop a vaccine and a cure in time to prevent this disease from killing 1 million people? After all, over US$180 billion is spent annually on research and development in the pharmaceutical industry. What good is it if so much money—and the tens of thousands of researchers and scientists working in Pharma R&D—can’t save the world from a deadly disease even in 2020?

See the Our World in Data graph, developed based on raw data from the European CDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control). What’s more scary than the Total Confirmed Deaths curve is the Daily New Confirmed Deaths curve.

Also pay attention to what they have written as a disclaimer: “Limited testing and challenges in the attribution of the cause of death means that the number of confirmed deaths may not be an accurate count of the true number of deaths from COVID-19“.

Let me give you some country-wide data on the number of deaths reported at midnight UTC of 28/29 March vs. midnight UTC of 27/28 March (24 hours):

  • WORLD up by 12.9% (3,516 new cases)
  • Bulgaria up by 133%
  • Ukraine up by 80%
  • Ireland up by 64%
  • Mexico up by 50%
  • Argentina up by 46%
  • Romania up by 42%
  • UK up by 34%
  • Portugal and USA up by 31% each
  • Philippines and Denmark up by 25% each
  • Brazil and Germany up by 23% each

This is not data from some third-world countries alone, it includes some of the most developed countries in the world.

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