The Virus

Covid-19 is not a term that is unfamiliar to most anyone today.  Covid has caused a terrible pandemic.  Thankfully, for most people its effects can be mild.  For others it can be deadly.  Reporting it can be confusing because, even when a person is admitted to a hospital with contributing ailments, if death occurs, it is reported as a Covid-19 fatality.  

The death rate in the United States 70 years ago, in 1950, was 9.649 per 10,000 people per year.  As of 2019, the death rate is 8.880 per 10,000 per year. 

Dr. Ben Carson

USA TODAY quoted Dr. Ben Carson as saying about 98% of people infected with the new coronavirus are going to recover.

“They’re going to do quite well, and we need to really start talking that up, and talking about what we can do,” Carson told Fox News host Martha MacCallum. “We can’t operate out of hysteria. When people are hysterical, they don’t do logical things.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, takes the 1% mortality rate and makes an assumption that every one of the 329 million Americans will contract the virus and then assumes a 1% mortality rate.  That resulting number is quite dire though, and I think quite unrealistic – unless one has a cause to promote, such as fear.

Still, pandemics can be catastrophic.  Consider, the deadly flu of 1918. It did not originate in Spain, as many believe.  The man-made horrors of the First World War were just beginning to wind down when the deadliest strain of the pandemic burst upon the world.  Over the course of the next 18 months, as much as 40 percent of the world’s population became infected with the virus. 

From 40 percent of the world’s population, an estimated 30 to 50 million people perished – more than the 17 million people who died during the First World War.  President Woodrow Wilson was included as a victim.  He contracted the disease while negotiating the Treaty of Versailles, early in 1919. 

What About the Spanish Flu?

So, how did the devastating flu become known as the Spanish Flu?  It’s an interesting story that goes like this.  Only a few major European countries remained neutral during World War I.  One of them was Spain.  Nations in the Allied and Central Powers used wartime sensors to suppress news of the flu to avoid affecting morale.  

Conversely, the Spanish media was free to report the full gory detail of the pandemic, which first made headlines in late-May of 1918.  Coverage increased after the Spanish King Alfonso XIII came down with a nasty case in the following week.

Nations of the Allied and Central Powers could only read in depth accounts of the flu from Spanish news sources.  They reasonably assumed that Spain was where the pandemic originated.   The Spanish, on the other hand, believed the virus had come to them from France, so they called it the “French Flu”.

Where Did It Origionate?

In all probability, the virus did not originate in Spain.  Scientists are still unsure of its source.  China, France, and Britain are all possibilities, as is the United States.  It was first reported in the United States at a military base in Kansas. 

Over the course of human history, pandemics have proven to be terrible events.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has partnered with other nations to be better prepared for any pandemics that might be lurking ahead of us.

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