So why are physicians and medical researchers from all sorts of disciplines in many countries spending time and money on researching a pandemic that happened almost one hundred years ago? Because it is still with us in various, albeit less lethal strains, and because the Spanish flu had a vastly higher death rate than any other flu.
The following statistics are from a scientific paper, “1918 Influenza:The Mother of All Pandemics” published in Emerging Infectious Diseases Vol. 12, No. 1, January 2006.
Hit the pause button a moment and think about this. One Third of the entire population of the world contracted the Spanish flu? One third of the entire world? And it all happened in less than 18 months with the bulk of cases concentrated in a twelve month period. That is one hell of a flu. This is the scary part:
In an article published in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine (abstract available here) in 2002 the authors state the following:
Pause button again. Three percent of the humans on the globe at that time died from the Spanish influenza? Three percent? That’s astounding. Unfortunately, it may have been much worse. The same authors write:
I broke out this last sentence. Using their figure for the population of the world (which they take from historical estimates made by the US Census Bureau), the math is simple. 50 million humans dead equals 3% of the population of the globe. 100 million dead of Spanish Influenza would mean SIX PERCENT of all the human beings on the face of the earth died in a very short period of time.
Let me make this suggestion, if your Congressperson is committed to making deep cuts in the Federal budget, please suggest to them that we not cut the funds being used to investigate the Spanish Influenza.
(Statistical note: the research teams who wrote these articles took their estimate of global population in 1918-1919 from two different sources which accounts for the difference since the first article says 1/3 of the global population was infected and the second article says 1/4 of the global population was infected.)