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Pandemic History Facts

Pandemic History Facts

For many of us, this year has been like no other. Living through a world pandemic is not something anyone expected and yet here we are, getting used to a new sort of normal. 

But Coronavirus or Covid-19 is not the first pandemic to hit our shores. There have been a number of pandemics that have caused huge disruption to the world in the past. 

But what do we mean by the term ‘pandemic’? First we must look at the term ‘epidemic’.

An epidemic is a disease that spreads over a large area and affects many people at the same time.

A pandemic is an epidemic that spreads across a large region, or even worldwide.. From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1918-1920 Spanish Flu Pandemic 

The 1918 flu pandemic is said to have originated in the US military. However, there is confusion over the true origins of the disease due to the vast movement of soldiers during WW1. Many believe reporters downplayed the virus in the US and instead focused on the spread in Spain. As a result, the outbreak was named the Spanish Flu. 

What are the facts? 

  • It was first reported in spring 1918 in US military 
  • 500 million people worldwide were infected 
  • There were 50 million deaths 
  • It is believed to have originated from birds
  • It lasted until early 1920
Hospital patients in 1918

Medicine in 1918 was not as advanced as it is today. There was little to no treatment available to help the sick, and no vaccine to protect the vulnerable. To try to control the spread of the pandemic, people were ordered to quarantine, limit gatherings and isolate when unwell. 

1957-1958 Asian Flu Pandemic 

In February 1957 a new strain of flu emerged in East Asia. It was first reported in Singapore and spread across the globe, reaching the United Kingdom in June of that year. 

What are the facts? 

  • 9 million people were infected in the UK 
  • There were 1.1 million deaths worldwide 
  • Antibiotics were developed to treat infections caused by the disease such as pneumonia. 
Asian flu going wild in Vivallius School in Örebro and the teacher Barbro Ogenvall is alone with the only well student Kjell Hagberg.
Asian flu going wild in Vivallius School in Örebro and the teacher Barbro Ogenvall is alone with the only well student Kjell Hagberg.


Unlike the flu pandemic in 1918, a vaccine was developed and made available to the public in October 1957. The rapid deployment of the vaccine helped to contain the virus. 

2019 Coronavirus Pandemic 

A new virus was first reported in Wuhan, China towards the end of 2019. It was highly contagious and spread quickly across the world. The virus had spread to the UK by February 2020. 

What are the facts?

(based data taken on 9/12/20 all data is approximate) 

  • 68 million cases worldwide 
  • 1.5 million deaths 
  • Advanced treatments available 

These statistics of course represent people...mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, grandparents. So what positives can we take out of the current pandemic?

The world in 2020 has come together with one single aim, to develop a vaccine and stop the spread of the virus. Due to the incredible collaboration between nations, vaccines have been developed and are in the process of being approved for use and rolled out to the public. What’s even more amazing, is that this has all happened in just 8 months! 


Child seeing older person through window social distancing
As a human race, we have survived by adapting to our environments and continually learning how we can face challenges and learn from them. 2020 has been a challenging year for many, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. 


2021 is the year of the vaccine, hugs with loved ones, gatherings with friends and opportunities for change. 

Covid-19 has forced a lot of us to make changes to our daily lives, but the restrictions haven’t all been negative. Some people feel the slower pace of life is worth holding onto and others have a newfound appreciation for friends and loved ones.  



Think about your life in 2019. 

What was different about it to now? What is the same?

What aspects of your life do you miss? What aspects are you happier without?

Think about what you would like your life to be like after the Covid-19 pandemic. You could write a letter to your future self about what you have learnt and what living through a pandemic was like.


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