First wave of the pandemic is over and most countries are experiencing a second wave of coronavirus with a rapid increase in hospitalizations and deaths reported every day. The 1918 flu pandemic killed millions of people and most of them died during its second wave. At that time people didn’t have the information on how to be safe from respiratory diseases and how those illnesses spread so they couldn’t take the safety precautions.
After a century there is now a similar situation with the second wave of the coronavirus and we will face the same consequences if the people do not follow the safety precautions which the health experts are telling for months including washing hands frequently, avoiding large crowds, follow social distancing measures, and wear face masks.
The flu pandemic of 1918 attacked in three waves starting from the spring of 1918 and ended in the winter of 1919. It is estimated that the flu pandemic killed around 50 million people and infected around 500 million, which was one-third of the world’s population. The first wave of that pandemic didn’t cause much damage but the second wave, which was the worst of all, killed millions of people during the fall of 1918.
It is expected that the covid19 cases will increase in the winter as the other coronaviruses also spread more quickly during the winters. That is because in winter the air is less humid and the virus particles can stay airborne for longer than in summer. Moreover, the nasal membranes of the human body are drier and can easily catch infection during the winter. Also, as the weather gets cooler people like to spend most of their time in indoor spaces having very little air circulation which results in the virus spreading easily.
An emergency care physician and the author of the book Influenza: The Hundred Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History Dr. Jeremy Brown said the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t claimed as many lives as influenza did, as it killed nearly 675,000 people in the US which would today be equal to 3 million deaths. Brown believes that it’s good news that those numbers haven’t been reached yet but still, the numbers are quite appalling.
There could be many reasons why the second wave of the 1918 pandemic was so deadly, including a disease that may have mutated the behavior and patterns of movement in humans at that time. Moreover, influenza spreads easily in winter because people often remain indoors in winter. Author of the Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, John M. Barry said that according to his guess the 1918 pandemic couldn’t infect many people during the spring but after that, a mutation started in people which was more contagious.
A great obstacle for the people at the time was the lack of knowledge about the character of the virus and its severity and behavior. There was no awareness of what an infected person looks like and how to isolate from such a person. When the second wave of the 1918 pandemic began some doctors believed that it was a different disease and not the second wave of the same virus.
Although the second wave of the coronavirus is emerging and more and more cases of the virus are being reported some things can be done by people to avoid what happened during the second wave of the 1918 pandemic. These involve all the basic safety precautions and stocking up. People should stock up on the essential items but in a responsible manner and also taking others into consideration, to limit the number of trips to stores and thus decreasing the chances of the virus spreading.