Sunday 8 March 2020

How many did previous pandemics kill?

I said that the bad flu of the winter before last  killed 58,000 people in the UK, compared to the usual number of deaths from flu of around 19,000. It got very little attention. How many died in earlier years, in flu pandemics that did receive a lot of attention?

The Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1968/9 killed an estimated 80,000 people in the UK. 

Before that was the Asian flu of 1957/8 which killed approximately 69,800 in the US and 14,000 people in the UK, after more than nine million people in the UK were infected.

The famous Spanish flu of 1918-20 was much worse and is thought by WHO to have infected a third of the world's population. The most recent investigation in 2018 found that about 17 million died, not the 50 to 100 million of a previous estimate. What made it much more terrible than the later flu pandemics was that it killed very large numbers of young, healthy people. The Spanish flu killed more people in 24 weeks than HIV/AIDS killed in 24 years.

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