Coronavirus is apparently not a slang term for a beer hangover. When I was growing up in the 1950’s, the Spanish flu of 1918-1920 was only thirty some years in the past and researchers were inspired to develop vaccines for a wide range of diseases. The Spanish flu infected 500 million people which represented 27% of the world population. It killed around 50 million people, with some estimates considerably higher. Fifty million deaths. Check out death totals from your favorite War(s) to get a frame of reference. Life expectancy in the United States dropped about 12 years during 1918 as a higher than expected Spanish flu mortality rate hit young adults. Wartime censors minimized early reports of that deadly flu in Germany, Britain, France, and the United States in order to maintain morale. Spain’s transparency was punished with the Spanish designation for the flu. The viral infection was no more aggressive than previous influenza strains but suppressed information, malnourishment, overcrowded medical camps, mass movements of people, hospital limitations, and poor hygiene promoted a bacterial superinfection. I expected an ebola virus out of Africa might lead to the next pandemic. But the Coronavirus has current potential and the advantage that: (1) no one is alive with first hand memory of the devastating Spanish flu; (2) anti-vaccine movements have gained popularity; and (3) air traffic in the last century has exploded the movement of people throughout the world.


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