The Covid-19 virus has killed nearly as many Americans in the past year and a half as the Spanish flu between 1918 and 1919, accounting for about 675,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Although the increase in new infections through the delta variable may reach its peak, the death rate in the United States still exceeds 1,900 per day, the highest level since early March, and the number of deaths in the country covers another 674,000 cases.
A century ago, the population of the United States was a third of what it is today, which means that the epidemic has reached a much larger and more deadly scale across the country.
Regarding the opportunity to vaccinate all those qualified thus far, Dr. Howard Markell of the University of Michigan said that “the great interests of American society – and worse, the leaders – have been dumped.”
However, winter could see a new outbreak, with the University of Washington predicting that nearly 100,000 Americans will be killed by the new coronavirus on January 1, bringing the total number of deaths in the United States to 776,000.
Spanish flu pandemic (1918-19) 50 million people died around the world at a time when the planet was a quarter of its population today. The global death toll from COVID-19 is currently 4.6 million.
According to the Associated Press, the number of deaths from the Spanish flu in the United States is a rough estimate, given the incomplete records at the time and the lack of scientific knowledge about the cause of the disease. The 675,000 figure comes from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A Covid-19 rebound can occur if the virus gradually weakens as it mutates and the human immune system increasingly learns to create defences.
Vaccination and surviving infection are the two main factors in improving the immune system. Breastfed babies also gain some immunity from their mothers.
In this optimistic scenario, school-age children might develop only mild illnesses that would prepare the immune system. As children get older, they carry the memory of the immune response, so when they are older and more vulnerable, the new coronavirus is no more dangerous than the regular flu.
The same goes for teens who are vaccinated today: Their immune system will be stronger with the vaccination.
“We will all be vaccinated. What is important is whether the infection is serious,” Emory University (Atlanta) biologist Rustam Antea said.
Something similar happened with the H1N1 influenza virus, the culprit in the 1918-19 pandemic, which found many people immune and eventually weakened through mutations. Even today, the H1N1 virus circulates in the community, but immunity acquired through infection and vaccination has triumphed.
Regularly taking the annual flu shot protects against H1N1 and many other diseases. Regular flu kills between 12,000 and 61,000 Americans each year, but it is on average a seasonal and manageable problem.
The 1918-19 flu – erroneously called the Spanish flu because it received widespread press coverage in Spain – was even worse.
It spread by hopping in World War I, killing many healthy young men. There has been no vaccine to slow down the virus and no antibiotics to treat secondary infections. However, mass travel and immigration threaten to increase the number of victims of the current pandemic. Much of the world’s population has not yet been vaccinated.
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