“Covid-19 is not much different from Hong Kong flu, but it is more deadly”

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CROSS INTERVIEW – Hong Kong flu caused nearly 31,000 deaths in France between 1968 and 1969. Little publicized, it remains little known to the general public. Infectiologist Pierre Dellamonica and epidemiologist Antoine Flahault argue that the lessons of the coronavirus should be better learned than after this first pandemic of the “modern” era.

At a Liverpool hospital in December 1969, volunteer staff had to replace the caregivers who fell ill.
At a Liverpool hospital in December 1969, volunteer staff had to replace the caregivers who fell ill. Mirrorpix / Leemage

It’s the forgotten epidemic. Hong Kong flu is rarely mentioned, and often confused with the “Asian flu” that raged 10 years earlier. However, at the end of the sixties, between 1968 and the spring of 1969, this H3N2 virus caused between 800,000 and a million deaths worldwide, including 31,000 in France. It first appeared in China in July 1968, but spread to Hong Kong, where it affected 15% of the population. This influenza A quickly circumnavigated Southeast Asia, reached India and Australia, then was brought to the United States by GIs mired in Vietnam. She is particularly deadly there and kills 50,000 Americans in three months.

It arrives in France in two waves. The second, in winter 69, is more virulent. The disease puts trains to a halt – 10% of the workforce in the Toulouse region is affected by the SNCF -, closes a number of schools for lack of teachers … However, in the media, the Hong Kong flu does not big titles. The political world is getting

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