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What if the Covid virus suffered the same fate as that of the Spanish Flu?

The Spanish flu, between 50 and 100 million deaths … against 4.5 million for the Covid

Now is the time to do some history and remember the first pandemic of the 20th century, that of the Spanish Flu

It affected the world from 1918 to 1919 and was caused by the virus A (H1N1). Since then, all influenza viruses that we know of have been distant variants of this ancestral virus.

The Spanish flu (so called because it was Spain that officially reported it first, while strangely it was in the United States that the first cases were officially recorded) was characterized in particular by its severe severity in young adults, with a peak in mortality between 20 and 40 years. Note that there are also more people affected in this age group, or even younger, with the Omicron variant. It reached half of the world’s population from the spring of 1918 to the end of the winter of 1919.

This pandemic spread in three successive waves around the world:

  • a first between March and July 1918,
  • a second from the end of August to November 1918
  • a third and last winter in the spring of 1919.

Symptoms of the first wave of the Spanish flu were seasonal flu symptoms:
• aches,
• fever,
• headache,
• great fatigue,
• cough,
• sputum,
• difficulty in breathing …

Other than sputum, does that remind you of anything?

It was not a vaccine that ended the Spanish flu

These relatively mild classic signs then gave way to more severe symptoms in the second and third waves of the pandemic.

The toll of the Spanish flu in the world has long been estimated at between 20 and 40 million deaths. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), this figure would range from 40 to 50 million. And recent reassessments estimate that figure could be as high as 100 million. As a reminder, the Covid pandemic has so far left “only” 4.5 million deaths …

The Spanish flu pandemic was not stopped by a vaccine, with the first flu vaccine not appearing until 1930, more than 10 years later.

Several elements led to the end of the epidemic.

In the first place, the immunization of the population, half of the world population having caught the disease. Affected subjects developed antibodies which protected them.

Second reason: the implementation of barrier gestures: masks, encouragement of social distance, closed museums and schools, disinfection of public transport…. Again, that should remind you of something …

Finally, it is said that the last variant of the virus was less deadly. Let’s not forget that a virus is the king of adaptation. He “knows” that it is in his interest to become benign in order to bypass the natural barriers that our body learns to erect as it goes along its path. As it becomes less and less dangerous, the anti-bodies will hamper it less and so it can continue to be transmitted from host to host. And therefore to exist.

The disease eventually died out in the second half of 1919.

The Delta variant is still very dangerous and deadly

For now, these reassuring prospects must not encourage us to give up. The Omicron variant is only a tiny percentage of patients at the moment, although it deserves our full attention.

For the moment, it is patients infected with the Delta variant who fill our hospitals and our intensive care rooms. Not to mention our cemeteries. More than ever, therefore, barrier gestures should be required.

I was shocked to see, as I walked around the streets of Saint-Paul on Saturday evening, during the Métis Festival, that more than one in two people did not wear a mask. And that it didn’t shock anyone other than me …


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