Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Every leader around the world clearly is struggling in fighting the unimaginable spread of coronavirus, which by now has killed over a hundred thousand people. According to statistics, coronavirus or Covid-19 is the deadliest after Black Death and Spanish flu. All of us know, approximately 200 million people died during Black Death while 50 million during Spanish flu. Most definitely, the death toll of coronavirus will not be even near to the one of Spanish flu, but of course, it will leave severe impact on the global economy, while in a number of countries in the world, there will be change of regimes.
The failure of the US and the UK to swing into action with a wide range of mitigation measures – despite the lessons of Italy’s slow response to the spread of Covid-19 – has heightened concerns that a sustained, epochal downturn lies in wait. Similarly, a number of Asian countries did not understand the severity of coronavirus, even when it was devastating Wuhan in China, and had adopted rather a lethargic strategy in taking measures to initially stop this virus entering those countries and now in spreading like bonfire.
Economic experts are already seeing the risk of the return of the Great Depression, which had shattered global economy. British newspaper the Guardian wrote: “… And a depression would mean an almost exact repeat of the same period one hundred years ago, when a deeply divided society and soaring stock markets during the 1920s gave way to a tortuously slow return to economic health during the 1930s in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash.
Back in January this year, a number of top research-scholars a number of leading universities in Hong Kong had predicted stating, Wuhan would be able to eliminate coronavirus by March. They also said, the virus may spread into a number of countries in the world. Those scholars also predicted a severe recession in the global economy, which would be much wider than the Great Depression, which had emerged in 1929 following the WWI.
The is Black Death
The Black Death, also known as the Pestilence and the Plague, was the most fatal pandemic recorded in the human history, resulting in the death of 200 million people in Eurasia and North Africa, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1347 to 1351. Plague, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis is believed to have been the cause.
Yersinia pestis infection can cause speticaemic and pneumonic plagues, but most common results to bubonic plague. The Black Death was the second plague pandemic recorded, after the Plague of Justinian (542-546). The plague created religious, social, and economic upheavals, with profound effects on the course of European history.
The Black Death probably originated in Central Asia or East Asia, from where it travelled along the Silk Road, reaching Crimea by 1347. From there, it was most likely carried by fleas living on the black rats that travelled on Genoese merchant ships, spreading throughout the Mediterranean Basin, reaching the rest of Europe via the Italian Peninsula.
The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30-60 percent of Europe’s population. In total, the plague may have reduced the world population from an estimated 475 million to 350-375 million in the 14th century. It took 200 years for Europe’s population to recover to its previous level, and some regions (such as Florence) did not recover until the 19th century. Outbreaks of the plague recurred until early 20th century.
The Spanish flu
The Spanish flu also known as the 1918 flu pandemic or La Pesadilla, was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic. Lasting from January 1918 to December 1920, it infected 500 million people – about a quarter of the world’s population at the time. The death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in human history.
To maintain morale, World War-I censors minimized early reports of illness and mortality in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. Newspapers were free to report the epidemic’s effects in neutral Spain, such as the grave illness of King Alfonso XIII, and these stories created a false impression of Spain as especially hard hit. This gave rise to the name Spanish flu. Historical and epidemiological data are inadequate to identify with certainty the pandemic’s geographic origin, with carrying views as to its location.
Most influenza outbreaks disproportionately kill the very young and the very old, with a higher survival rate for those in between, but the Spanish flu pandemic resulted in a higher than expected mortality rate for young adults. Scientists offer several possible explanations for the high mortality rate of the 1918 influenza pandemic. Some analyses have shown the virus to be particularly deadly because it triggers a cytokine storm, which ravages the stronger immune system of young adults. In contrast, a 2007 analysis of medical journals from the period of the pandemic found that the viral infection was no more aggressive than previous influenza strains. Instead, malnourishment, overcrowded medical camps and hospitals, and poor hygiene promoted bacterial superinfection. This superinfection killed most of the victims, typically after a somewhat prolonged death bed.
The Spanish flu was the first of the two pandemics caused by the H1N1 influenza virus, the second was the swine flu in 2009.
To be continued
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning journalist and editor of Blitz