The 1918 influenza pandemic, described by experts as “the deadliest in human history”, had killed at least 50 million people worldwide, noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is equivalent to 200 million in terms of the present day’s population of the world.
And an estimated 675,000 of those deaths had taken place in the United States.
And the latest pandemic – the coronavirus pandemic, has killed more Americans than the influenza pandemic in just 18 months.
According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, death of at least 675,446 Americans has been confirmed since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic till now. And the number continues to increase with each passing day.
While exceeding the 1918 death toll is a dubious distinction, experts have pointed out key differences between both pandemics that one has to consider while comparing the impact of the two pandemics – especially when considering the much greater access to better healthcare options and availability of vaccines.
“These are two different viruses, two different times in history, at two different times of medical history, with what you have available to combat or treat it,” Howard Markel, professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan, told ABC News.
The 1918 influenza pandemic started during the spring of that year and lasted for two years or so. It was caused by the novel H1N1 virus which jumped from birds to humans. According to the CDC, that pandemic had either caused the death of or infected at about one-third of the global population at that time – about 500 million people.
However, Dr. Graham Mooney, assistant professor of the history of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says that the death toll in the 1918 pandemic was likely a gross underestimation due to non-registration, missing records, misdiagnosis or underreporting.
Similarly, some experts fear that the Covid-19 deaths could be undercounted because of inconsistent reporting of cases and deaths by states and localities as well as due to intentional exclusion of excess deaths in some countries or regions.
Experts like Markel also noted the differences in population in the United States between 1918 – which was at approximately 105 million, compared to the 2019 figure of 328 million, according to census data, compared to 328 million people in 2019.
The current Covid-19 case fatality rate is at 1.6% while the metric in the 1918 influenza was at 2.5% fatality rate for influenza in 1918, said Mooney.
Typically the fatality rate of flu is less than 0.1% and therefore the Covid-19 death rate in the U.S. is significantly lower than the one that was noted for the 1918 pandemic.
Hence, according to Christopher McKnight Nichols, associate professor of history at Oregon State University, the 1918 influenza pandemic was far deadlier compared to the coronavirus pandemic when comparison is made on a per-capita basis.
“The difference is that 1 in 500 Americans have died now, and about 1 in 152 died in 1918, although our number keeps going up,” Nichols told ABC News.
Nichols however notes that the roll out of Covid-19 vaccines had created a difference between the two pandemics even though the two were comparable initially.
“People were desperate for treatment measures in 1918. People were desperate for a vaccine,” Nichols said. “We have effective vaccines now, and so what strikes me in the comparison, if you think about this milestone, this tragedy of deaths, is that same number but we have a really effective treatment, the thing that they most wanted in 1918 and ’19, we’ve got. And for a lot of different reasons, we botched the response.”
There were no vaccines or treatment against the 1918 influenza, just like towards the beginning of the current coronavirus pandemic and hence people were unprotected. Hence, use of non-pharmaceutical interventions was critical for controlling the pandemic. Mooney said.
“The same kinds of measures — the so-called non-pharmaceutical interventions that were put on in 1918 — were the same that we saw last year: lockdowns, social distancing, hygiene masks, limits on gathering places,” Nichols said.
According to Markel, one of the biggest lessons learned from the 1918 pandemic was social distancing and had showed he world that if it was done early, and for a continued period of time, it can help spread of a pandemic.
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On the Caspian shore of Russia, thousands of dead seals have washed up
Officials announced on Sunday that over 2,500 dead seals had been discovered near the Caspian Sea coast of Russia.
Authorities in the Russian province of Dagestan stated that the cause of the shocking mass deaths was unknown and that they believed it was probably due to natural causes.
The number of dead seals discovered off the coast on Saturday initially appeared to be 700, but later rose to 2,500, according to the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
The Caspian Environmental Protection Center’s Zaur Gapizov stated in a statement that the seals had probably been dead for a few weeks. He claimed that there was no evidence that they had been killed or caught in fishing nets.
According to a statement posted on the Telegram messaging app by the Dagestan natural resources ministry, samples taken from the seals’ internal organs did not contain any traces of pollution.
A North Caucasus fisheries official was quoted by the business newspaper Kommersant as suggesting that the seals may have perished due to protracted storms, although the news website Fontanka.ru suggested that the mass deaths may have been brought on by a natural gas leak from the sea’s abundant resources.
The Dagestan ministry stated after this incident that there was still a stable number of Caspian seals in the region, “ranging from 270,000 to 300,000.”
According to RIA, the seals are at the top of the food chain and have no natural enemies as adults. They can grow to a length of more than 1.6 metres (5.2 feet) and a weight of up to 100 kilogrammes (200 pounds).
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At the Union Square subway station, a man was robbed and cut in the face
Police reported that a guy was cut on a Queens subway platform early on Sunday and was taken to the hospital.
Around 6 a.m., the attacker cut the victim with a sharp object as he was standing on a platform for the northbound F train at the Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike station, according to police.
Following the suspect onto the station, the victim argued with the suspect while he was attempting to retrieve his bag.
The defendant allegedly then produced a knife, cut the victim in the face, and fled.
The victim’s minor cut was treated.
The suspect managed to get away with the bag, which had a pair of boots and several equipment for building valued a combined total of approximately $420.
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man who killed 70 years old Massachusetts couple over a barking dog was found in Florida.
Police stated that they had apprehended the fugitive suspected of fatally murdering an elderly Massachusetts couple during a dispute about a noisy dog in Florida.
The Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office reported that Christopher Keeley, 27, was apprehended Thursday at 8:20 p.m. in Miami Beach, approximately 1,500 miles from the Marshfield home where he is accused of beating Carl and Vicki Mattson, both 70, to death.
The couple and Keeley allegedly got into a fight about a barking dog, according to the police.
According to court documents obtained by CBS, the alleged brute had been staying in the Mattson’s Gotham Hill Drive house as a courtesy to a family member but had just been ordered to leave.
According to Keeley’s arrest on a warrant as an out-of-state fugitive, Miami-Dade County jail records show this. It was unclear at first if Keeley had hired a lawyer.
Questions were not immediately answered by representatives of the Massachusetts State Police and the Miami-Dade Police Department. It was impossible to speak with a district attorney’s office representative for Plymouth County right away.
A dog that had been reported missing earlier was also discovered dead inside the home, according to the DA. It’s unclear to whom the dog belonged or how it passed away.
This would not be the first time Keeley had turned to murder after a dispute.
In a dispute over a phone charger when he was 18 years old, Keeley broke his grandmother’s vehicle window, according to The Patriot Ledger. He was accused of intentionally causing damage to a vehicle.
According to Keeley, he attacked the couple after a dispute about a barking dog.
At least two further significant run-ins with the law involved Keeley. According to the publication, he was detained in 2016 at the age of 21 for organising and carrying out a group beating of a man with autism before snatching his cellphone and wallet. According to reports, a court in Massachusetts deemed Keeley “to be dangerous,” and he was subsequently given an 18-month prison term.
Keeley was recently charged with narcotics possession after it was claimed that he was found driving about with marijuana and Xanax. According to court documents obtained by The Ledger, he was charged with drug offences.
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