In 1918 because of the Spanish Flu, India lost 16.7 million people and an estimated 40 million people — or 2.1% of the global population. If a similar pandemic reoccurred today, it would result in 150 million deaths worldwide. The decline in economic activity combined with elevated inflation resulted in large declines in the real returns of stocks and short-term government bonds.

However, researchers note that the probability that COVID-19 reaches anything close to the Great influenza pandemic is remote. Thank God! Hospitals were crowded and offered limited treatment options and antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infection that often accompany the flu. They had yet to be discovered. Face masks made of gauze were widely used. And, it was thought that keeping windows open would deter the spread of the virus; so this practice was encouraged.

Court officials held proceedings outside in hopes that the fresh air would prevent infections. It was truly a global pandemic. The effect of the Spanish Flu was so severe that the average lifespan in the U.S. was depressed by 10 years. And, the physicians at the time were helpless against the powerful agent of influenza. The origin of the Spanish Flu variant is not precisely known. It is thought by many to have originated in China in a rare genetic shift of the influenza virus. No one knows for sure.

The Spanish Flu pandemic (1918-19) erupted during the final stages of World War I when nations were already attempting to deal with the effects and cost of the virus. But, on a positive note, the virus gave science greater importance as the government relied more and more on scientists. Like COVID-19, the Spanish Flu reminds us of just how large the impact of a pandemic can be even in countries that had already been successful in improving population health. For this reason, the Spanish Flu has been cited as a warning and motivation to prepare well for a large pandemic outbreak which had been considered likely by man's research. This did happen with COVID-19.

While COVID-19 infection rates go down and by continuing all the precautions the scientists have set before us, maybe God will spare us from any more pandemics. Because this one has truly turned the world upside down and has no plans of leaving us for a while!

Kathleen Chamis


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