COVID-19 has surpassed the Spanish Flu to become America’s deadliest pandemic
COVID-19 has officially surpassed the 1918 Spanish Flu as the deadliest pandemic in United States history. As of Tuesday morning, 676,200 people have died as a result of the coronavirus, compared to the 675,000 people that died from the Spanish Flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I think we are now pretty well done with historical comparisons,” historian Howard Markel told CNBC. “This is the pandemic I will be studying and teaching to the next generation of doctors and public-health students.”
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While 675,000 is the official death count for the Spanish Flu, there are numerous factors to consider when putting that figure into historical context. For starters, a poor understanding of the illness and incomplete records mean that the true number of total death could be higher. Additionally, the population of the U.S. was only one-third of what it is today, according to the Associated Press.
However, there were also no vaccines nor antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections in 1918. Approximately 64% of those eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. are vaccinated.
“We have a lot more infection control, a lot more ability to support people who are sick. We have modern medicine,” Ann Marie Kimball, a retired professor of epidemiology at University of Washington, told the AP. “But we have a lot more people and a lot more mobility. … The fear is eventually a new strain gets around a particular vaccine target.”