Understanding The Past, Present And Future of COVID-19


At this stage of the pandemic, fatigue and frustration are real. A heavy dose of reality is needed. We’re inundated daily with news about new cases and deaths often without perspective as to where we stand and seemingly with no end in sight. History is on our side. The advances in medical science compared to pandemics of times gone by suggest we’ll be on the other side of this pandemic sooner than later. I thought it was a good time for a bit of a reality check comparing the current pandemic to what we’ve experienced.

Since 1900, the United States has faced four prior pandemics.

  • 1918: H1N1 Virus
  • 1957: H2N2 Virus
  • 1968: H3N2 Virus
  • 2009: H1N1 Virus

There are a couple of themes you can discern from these occurrences. First, the most common form of the traditional flu virus this season has twice been declared a pandemic. This is what viruses do. They mutate. There's a good chance that the virus causing a pandemic today will be considered the flu virus of tomorrow. The development of vaccines and treatment options for these past pandemic viruses have been key. They will be again with COVID-19. For now, let’s take an objective look at what’s happened during the current pandemic and what our country has faced previously.

These are the deaths of Americans in past pandemics adjusted for today’s population.

  • 2009: 12,469 actual - 13,317 adjusted
  • 1968: 100,000 actual – 163,000 adjusted
  • 1957: 116,000 actual – 221,200 adjusted
  • 1918: 675,000 actual – 2.15 million adjusted

As of now, just over 144,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. Perspective is key, as now, this pandemic has only hit harder than the one in 2009 and pales in comparison to what we faced in 1918. Control what you can control like good hygiene, which is always advisable, and wearing masks. Understand that it’s been far worse than this likely will be and that this too shall pass.

Photo by: Getty Images


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