The Spanish Flu Killed 2.5% of the Then Population. COVID-19 Has Killed 0.03%

Mainly the elderly with multiple comorbidities. The average death from COVID is near life expectancy. Half of deaths are from nursing homes

The History of Pandemics

Pan·dem·ic /panˈdemik/ (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.

As humans have spread across the world, so have infectious diseases. Even in this modern era, outbreaks are nearly constant, though not every outbreak reaches pandemic level as COVID-19 has.

Today’s visualization outlines some of history’s most deadly pandemics, from the Antonine Plague to the current COVID-19 event.

A Timeline of Historical Pandemics

Disease and illnesses have plagued humanity since the earliest days, our mortal flaw. However, it was not until the marked shift to agrarian communities that the scale and spread of these diseases increased dramatically.

Widespread trade created new opportunities for human and animal interactions that sped up such epidemics. Malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, influenza, smallpox, and others first appeared during these early years.

The more civilized humans became – with larger cities, more exotic trade routes, and increased contact with different populations of people, animals, and ecosystems – the more likely pandemics would occur.

Here are some of the major pandemics that have occurred over time:

Name Time period Type / Pre-human host Death toll
Antonine Plague 165-180 Believed to be either smallpox or measles 5M
Japanese smallpox epidemic 735-737 Variola major virus 1M
Plague of Justinian 541-542 Yersinia pestis bacteria / Rats, fleas 30-50M
Black Death 1347-1351 Yersinia pestis bacteria / Rats, fleas 200M
New World Smallpox Outbreak 1520 – onwards Variola major virus 56M
Great Plague of London 1665 Yersinia pestis bacteria / Rats, fleas 100,000
Italian plague 1629-1631 Yersinia pestis bacteria / Rats, fleas 1M
Cholera Pandemics 1-6 1817-1923 V. cholerae bacteria 1M+
Third Plague 1885 Yersinia pestis bacteria / Rats, fleas 12M (China and India)
Yellow Fever Late 1800s Virus / Mosquitoes 100,000-150,000 (U.S.)
Russian Flu 1889-1890 Believed to be H2N2 (avian origin) 1M
Spanish Flu 1918-1919 H1N1 virus / Pigs 40-50M
Asian Flu 1957-1958 H2N2 virus 1.1M
Hong Kong Flu 1968-1970 H3N2 virus 1M
HIV/AIDS 1981-present Virus / Chimpanzees 25-35M
Swine Flu 2009-2010 H1N1 virus / Pigs 200,000
SARS 2002-2003 Coronavirus / Bats, Civets 770
Ebola 2014-2016 Ebolavirus / Wild animals 11,000
MERS 2015-Present Coronavirus / Bats, camels 850
COVID-19 2019-Present Coronavirus – Unknown (possibly pangolins) 2.7M (Johns Hopkins University estimate as of March 16, 2021)

Note: Many of the death toll numbers listed above are best estimates based on available research. Some, such as the Plague of Justinian and Swine Flu, are subject to debate based on new evidence.

Despite the persistence of disease and pandemics throughout history, there’s one consistent trend over time – a gradual reduction in the death rate. Healthcare improvements and understanding the factors that incubate pandemics have been powerful tools in mitigating their impact.

March 15, 2021 Update: Due to popular request, we’ve also visualized how the death tolls of each pandemic stack up as a share of total estimated global populations at the time.

Wrath of the Gods

In many ancient societies, people believed that spirits and gods inflicted disease and destruction upon those that deserved their wrath. This unscientific perception often led to disastrous responses that resulted in the deaths of thousands, if not millions.

In the case of Justinian’s plague, the Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea traced the origins of the plague (the Yersinia pestis bacteria) to China and northeast India, via land and sea trade routes to Egypt where it entered the Byzantine Empire through Mediterranean ports.

Despite his apparent knowledge of the role geography and trade played in this spread, Procopius laid blame for the outbreak on the Emperor Justinian, declaring him to be either a devil, or invoking God’s punishment for his evil ways. Some historians found that this event could have dashed Emperor Justinian’s efforts to reunite the Western and Eastern remnants of the Roman Empire, and marked the beginning of the Dark Ages.

Luckily, humanity’s understanding of the causes of disease has improved, and this is resulting in a drastic improvement in the response to modern pandemics, albeit slow and incomplete.

Importing Disease

The practice of quarantine began during the 14th century, in an effort to protect coastal cities from plague epidemics. Cautious port authorities required ships arriving in Venice from infected ports to sit at anchor for 40 days before landing — the origin of the word quarantine from the Italian “quaranta giorni”, or 40 days.

One of the first instances of relying on geography and statistical analysis was in mid-19th century London, during a cholera outbreak. In 1854, Dr. John Snow came to the conclusion that cholera was spreading via tainted water and decided to display neighborhood mortality data directly on a map. This method revealed a cluster of cases around a specific pump from which people were drawing their water from.

While the interactions created through trade and urban life play a pivotal role, it is also the virulent nature of particular diseases that indicate the trajectory of a pandemic.

Tracking Infectiousness

Scientists use a basic measure to track the infectiousness of a disease called the reproduction number — also known as R0 or “R naught.” This number tells us how many susceptible people, on average, each sick person will in turn infect.

Measles tops the list, being the most contagious with a R0 range of 12-18. This means a single person can infect, on average, 12 to 18 people in an unvaccinated population.

While measles may be the most virulent, vaccination efforts and herd immunity can curb its spread. The more people are immune to a disease, the less likely it is to proliferate, making vaccinations critical to prevent the resurgence of known and treatable diseases.

It’s hard to calculate and forecast the true impact of COVID-19, as the outbreak is still ongoing and researchers are still learning about this new form of coronavirus.

Urbanization and the Spread of Disease

We arrive at where we began, with rising global connections and interactions as a driving force behind pandemics. From small hunting and gathering tribes to the metropolis, humanity’s reliance on one another has also sparked opportunities for disease to spread.

Urbanization in the developing world is bringing more and more rural residents into denser neighborhoods, while population increases are putting greater pressure on the environment. At the same time, passenger air traffic nearly doubled in the past decade. These macro trends are having a profound impact on the spread of infectious disease.

As organizations and governments around the world ask for citizens to practice social distancing to help reduce the rate of infection, the digital world is allowing people to maintain connections and commerce like never before.

Source: Visual Capitalist

  1. ken says

    A slight difference in the definition of a pandemic.

    -Before 2009: when a new influenza virus appears against which the human population has no immunity, resulting in several, simultaneous epidemics worldwide with enormous numbers of deaths and illness.”

    -2009: when a new influenza virus appears against which the human population has no immunity, resulting in several, simultaneous epidemics worldwide.

    So you see,,, no enormous numbers of deaths needed… how convenient.

    Look what they did to “Herd Immunity”

    -From: Herd immunity is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection.

    -To: Herd immunity’, also known as ‘population immunity’, is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached. Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it.

    Yep,,, Nothing to see here,,, move along… “Protecting People”…. This is the little Hitler’s of the world excuse for lockdowns and other ridiculous mandates.

    Every aspect of this “disease” is a con… scam,,, lie,,, bs,,, etc

    And lets add another tidbit. From the Washington Examiner:

    -In 2017, the World Bank designed a new way to raise money: Pandemic Emergency Financing bonds. Over $425 million worth of such bonds, which bet against a global outbreak of infectious diseases and will default if WHO declares the coronavirus a pandemic, were sold by the World Bank in its first-ever issuance of catastrophe bonds. In the event of no pandemic, investors would be paid a healthy annualized return.

    Pandemic or pay…. Which do you think they chose? (lol)

    And to top this all off,,,no isolate of the virus exists so no actual genome of an actual virus exists.

    -CDC: Since no quantified virus isolates of the 2019-nCoV are currently available, assays designed for detection of the 2019-nCoV…blah, blah, blah…

    Which brings us to the fake vaccine that is really a genetic modification concoction. How did they create the ‘vaccine’ without the actual virus genome? Answer: They couldn’t. The concoction is experimental for some unknown (to us) experiment.

    Take at your own risk….

    1. Voz 0db says

      When a soccer player can figure out the absolute bullshit PCR is one as to ponder why so many none soccer players can’t reach this easy conclusion!

  2. Voz 0db says

    The “COVID-19” label actually didn’t killed a single moron uman!

  3. play says

    These are bullshit stats.. John hopkins is BS…. covid = common cold… They have yet to isolate the virus therefore that means they CAN’T create a vaccine without isolating any virus and if they DON’T isolate the virus they CAN’T give it a name… wake up and stop reading fake stats.. this is what got us in this mess for believing and being ignorant in believing politicians!!!!

    1. Voz 0db says

      “COVID-19” is just the new label They needed to deploy in order to CAUSE FEAR and PANIC among the herd of modern moron slaves… Since cold/flu/pneumonia doesn’t cause FEAR and PANIC a new SOUND/label was necessary in order for the PCR scam to work.

      And since the world herds never reacted in the same manner into the fear and panic They tried to deploy using the CO2 scam… They’ve now achieved huge success in this current operation.

  4. Mr Reynard says

    Quote: COVID-19 Has Killed 0.03%
    Now , just wait for how many will get murdered with the lethal injection called Pfizer, Astra Zeneca ect..ect..

  5. Marcus says

    What a clear and concise article Very helpful

  6. Kweku Akosombo says

    I believe Asian and HongKong flus were more severe than COVID, c 1 to 4 million deaths with a much lower world population. 

  7. Dan Silvan says

    I don’t think HIV/AIDS should be included in the list since it is easily avoidable for the most part by making healthy lifestyle choices. Also of relevance is what demographic a pandemic affects most. The Spanish Flu claimed young healthy people disproportionately. COVID risk is mainly associated with those who already have certain health issues, have a compromised immune function, or are elderly.

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