Spanish Influenza vs Covid-19


The world has not experienced a widespread fatal illness that killed millions of people since the Spanish Influenza in 1918. Although the Covid-19 pandemic seems unprecedented, the circumstances we are in are not totally unfamiliar to the world. Despite the hundred-year time difference, Spanish Influenza and Covid-19 hit the world similarly. 


Both of these illnesses are viruses that attack the respiratory system. Transference of these viruses are airborne; they spread through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, and talking. They both originated with a miniscule number of cases and weren’t expected to spread so vastly. Mandatory orders for the wearing of masks in public and the shutting down of businesses were set during both time periods. This took a large toll on the economy, family life, and mental health. Both viruses consist of multiple waves and multiple strains, making predictions hard to make. The origins of the two viruses are both controversial. It is apparent that the Spanish Flu and Covid-19 are somewhat similar, however, just like any two things, they contrast. 

The Spanish Flu spared a handful of countries, establishing it as an epidemic, whereas only a handful of small pacific islands remain free of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the difference in coverage over the world, in under two years, the Spanish Flu killed about 50 million people whereas Covid-19 has killed about 3.3 million souls. Many factors play into these strikingly different statistics. Comparing 1918 to now, it is significantly easier to access medication to prevent catching an illness like this. In addition to this, more people have health insurance and improved medical care that can aid in healing them if they acquire this virus. Lastly, the flu affected mostly 25–40-year-olds and the coronavirus affects those over 65 more, especially those with underlying health issues. The flu was such a new experience to those in the early 1900s that people even expressed their feelings towards it in poems. One of the most popular ones is titled My Mother remembers Spanish Influenza by John Ratti and it beautifully illustrates the experiences of the people from this time.