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Geez, some of the news just goes from bad to worse right guys?
Stay safe, stay vigilant and above all, wash those hands!
Despite all the chaos and disruption and FEAR, I thought perhaps we could take a step back and ask why?
Why is this happening?
And more importantly, why is it happening now?
The answer is…
It’s always happened.
By this I mean pandemics, and viruses and natural illnesses have always been a part of our history.
Indeed, some pandemics have been far, far worse than COVID-19.
Our friends at Visual Capitalist constructed a brilliant post on the history of pandemics to give some context:
In table form:
|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||100000|
|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||200000|
|SARS||2002-2003||Coronavirus / Bats, Civets||770|
|Ebola||2014-2016||Ebolavirus / Wild animals||11000|
|MERS||2015-Present||Coronavirus / Bats, camels||850|
|COVID-19||2019-Present||Coronavirus – Unknown (possibly pangolins)||8,000 (as of Mar 19, 2020)|
What’s more, here is how COVID-19 compares in terms of infectivity rates:
The main take-away for me, would be that just because it feels like things are occuring unique to you doesn’t mean that it is unique in our history.
But you know what?
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.
Of course, it is still too early to calculate and forecast the impact of COVID-19, as it is still ongoing and the situation is changing day-by-day.
But I have faith that our governments and healthcare departments are doing their utmost to find a solution.
There is an unprecedented co-ordinated international response to this crisis.
It might not matter when there is so much social unrest and economic uncertainty, but hopefully this provides a bit more perspective that historically, we’ve had it much worse, and we’ve ALWAYS gone through it.
And that gives me hope.
Stay safe, stay healthy everyone and remember, please wash those hands!
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