Since we’re finally done with the brunt of this Covid business, we can start rebuilding our normal lives again. We get to meet up with people, no longer need to wear face masks all the time and we can go visit a movie theater or watch our favorite band play a show at the local pub. It’s almost like none of the last year happened. And if you look at how often we’ve survived pandemics, it’s no wonder we’re so fast to recover.
Let’s take a look at some of the pandemics we’ve survived in the past.
Asian Flu (1957)
Killing over 2 million people, of which 70,000 people in the US alone, this China-based virus was a particularly nasty one. The virus went on a killing spree for almost two years and didn’t take long at all to become a global disease.
Justinian Plague (541-549)
Nothing quite says “bad plague” like those early medieval ones, don’t it? According to records, this bubonic plague pretty much wiped out half the population in Europe. Naturally, this was a time when a simple cough could be threatening to your life so in hindsight the damage it did wasn’t too surprising.
Spanish Flu (1918)
The best time for a new disease to manifest itself is right after a brutal war. Because of the situation at the time, this flu was able to spread to about 500 million people and take the lives of 50 million of them. This was one of the first diseases to also target young, healthy adults.
The Hong Kong Flu (1968)
The only reason why this flu wasn’t more lethal with its mortality rate of 5% was mostly due to the fact that it shared a lot of traits with the Asian flu that came a decade earlier. This allowed people to make antibodies a lot faster, although the Hong Kong flu still killed over a million people – half of which in Hong Kong itself.
While we’ve had many cholera pandemics in the past, the 1852 one was particularly brutal. It originated in India and took the lives of over a million people and the disease wouldn’t fully be under control until the 1920s, after the last big outbreak took place.
The Black Death (1346)
Another outbreak of the bubonic plague that wiped out half the population in Europe, you say? Although we can only guess how many people lost their lives to this particular version, the estimates are somewhere around 80 to 200 million people.
Russian Coronavirus (1889)
That’s right, we’ve had a coronavirus pandemic before. It was long thought that this Russian flu outbreak was a subtype of the infamous H2N2 strain, recent discoveries have proven that it was in fact an offshoot of the coronavirus we’ve been dealing with for the last 18 months. As medical technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now, the disease claimed a million lives despite having peaked after only 5 weeks.