According to Wikipedia, the Spanish flu which is also known as 1918 flu pandemic, was a usually deadly influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza virus. Whilst Covid 19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronovirus. Covid 19 is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronovirus2 (SARS-COV-2). Both the two pandemic became a great threats denunciation to the entire world.
If anyone was still alive today that lived through the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, they might retrospect a lot of affinities with this novel Covid 19 pandemic.
Spanish flu is believed to the world's most diedest disease in the history of modern world. Spanish flu aged Covid 19 by 102 years which is even more than a century. According to history.com the Spanish flu didn't originate in Spain, though news coverage of it did. During World War 1, Spain was a neutral country with free media that covered the outbreak from the start, first reporting on it in Madrid in late May 1918.
Meanwhile, Allied countries and central powers had wartime censor who covered up news of the flu to keep morale high. So, because Spanish news sources were the only ones reporting on flu, many believed it is originated from Spain. There is no any universal thought where Spanish flu is originated.
Conversely, Covid 19 is 102 younger than Spanish flu. The first case of Covid 19 in world were first reported by official in Wuhan city, China. Perusal research and investigation by Chinese authorities have identified human cases with onset of symptoms in early December 2019 (that's why is called Covid 19).
In the space of a few months, we have all learned a lot about Covid 19. But there have also been a lot of rumors about it origin, and numerous scientific articles on this virus is increasing, there is still many grey areas as to its origin. However, it is generally acceptable this novel Covid 19 is originated in China according to many sources such as New York Times, Washington Post, Wikipedia, CDC etc.
Spanish flu has numerous symptoms of illness such as sore head and fatigue, followed by a dry, hacking cough; a loss of appetite; stomach problems; and then, on second day, excessive sweating. Next, the illness could affect the respiratory organs, and pneumonia could develop.
On the other hand, the Covid 19 compose most common symptoms, less common symptoms, and the serious symptoms. Most common symptoms are fever, dry cough, tiredness etc. The less common symptoms are diarrhea, headache, conjunctivitis, loss of taste/smell, etc. While the serious symptoms include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, loss of speech or movement, and chest pain or pressure.
Based on how it affected world, the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic was the most severe pandemic in the recent history. It is estimated that about 500 million people, or one-third of the world's population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be 50 million people worldwide, and at that time there were 1.8 billion people in the whole world.
Mortality was high in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old, and 65years, and older. The high mortality healthy people are those in the 20-40 years age group. It clears shown that the younger people at 1918 Spanish flu suffered and died than older people.
According to today's Wikipedia latest update, the world experienced 4.09 million people case of Covid 19, recovered 1.4 million people, and deaths of 282K thousand people. Today's world population is 8 billion people compare with Spanish flu which was 1.8 billion people. We know Covid 19 is an illness that disproportionately impacts some group which illustrate that older people are mostly clearly at risk.
A perusal research has shown that, the case of fatality rate for those under the age of 60 years was 1.4%. For those over age 60 years, the fatality rate jumps to 4.5%. This implies that, the higher the older the population, the higher the fatality rate and vice versa. For those 80 years and over, Covid 19 appears to have 13.49% fatality rate.
In Spanish flu, it has been reported hospital emergency departments have reached their maximum limit limits,, and there is little room for a surge in patients in either emergency rooms or inpatient bed.
My research shows that, a grim picture is predicted of a significant surge in the need for additional health care resources, which our countries currently lacking. It is shown that, there was a serious shortage of health care facilities, equipment, pharmaceuticals, and personnel.
In contrast, Covid 19 pandemic has created unprecedented disruptions fighting infectious disease, supporting health workers, delivering social services, and protecting live hoods have moved to the very center of the world's attention. Unlike Spanish flu era, presently, there are hospitals, and medical personnel.
Notwithstanding, the medical personnel find their work very risk and complicated by the challenges of access, safety, supply chain logistics, and financial stress like never before. So, the short term implication of this global challenge are evident everywhere but the long-term consequences of the pandemic will reshape health sector.
The immediate economic consequences of 1918 Spanish flu stemmed from the panic surrounding the spread of Spanish flu large cities such New York City, Rome, Paris, etc were essentially lockdown temporary as their population bedridden. The economic consequences of the pandemic included wage increases, labor shortages, etc, but there was increased use of social security system.
The economic historians do not agree on a headline figure for lost of GDP because of the effects of the flu is hard to disentangle from the confounding impact of the first World War. But there were not sufficient data to analyze the economic misfortune at that time because they were in analogue era.
As I pointed out in my article April 13, 2020 " The Hypothetical Economic Crisis Engender By Covid 19 in Nigeria”, if a third world country like Nigeria lose #2.3 trillion Naira in three weeks of the first Covid 19 case, what will happen to develop countries? For instance, the five weeks period from mid March to late April 2020, more than 30 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance, raising the prospect of a deep economic recession, and a significant increase in the unemployment rate.
The preliminary data for the first quarter of 2020 indicate that United State's GDP fell by 4.8% at an annual rate, the foreign investors have pulled an estimated $26 billion dollars out of developing Asian economy, and more than $16 billion dollars out of India. Some estimates also indicate that 29 million people in Latin America could fall into poverty reversing a decade of effort to narrow income inequality.
In Europe, over 90 million people in Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain has applied for the state support of their wages, while first quarter 2020 data indicate that the economy contracted by 3.8% at an annual rate, the largest quarterly decline since the series in 1918.
The pandemic Covid 19 crisis is challenging government at all levels to implement monetary, and fiscal policies that support credit markets, and sustain economic activity. In doing so however, these policies approaches are displaying differences between countries that promote nationalism versus those that argue for a coordinated international response.
The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic is also the story of a painful apprenticeship. As several researchers recently recalled, it ‘led to enormous improvements in public health. Indeed, several strategies, such as health education, isolation, sanitation, and surveillance, improved our knowledge of the transmission of influenza, and are still implemented today to stem the spread of a disease that has a heavy burden.
On a positive note, and despite many parallels, the 1918 influenza, and the current coronavirus pandemic also differ in one, fundamental way. Humankind already has and will continue to find new and effective means to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. However, for all the existing scientific measures to be effective, they must be put into practice, and therefore understood and accepted.
Abbas Harun wrote from Zaria city, Kaduna state, Nigeria. He is a medical student from University of people, United State, department of public health science.