Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 32 n° 335

Where is covid-19 in a list of worst pandemics in history?

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 29 aprile 2020

Never before have we seen a situation where almost the entire global economy has been under lockdown conditions. The covid-19 virus has caused something without precedent in economic history. Having said that, how severe is this pandemic relative to those seen through history? Or how severe could it end up being? To answer this we’ve looked at 24 pandemics and epidemics over the last 2000 years where the historical literature suggests at least 100,000 fatalities. We have then calculated this as a proportion of the world’s population at the time. We appreciate that the world’s population has grown substantially over time and100,000 was a much higher percentage at the start of this sample period than at the end. Nevertheless, this criterion covered virtually all of the major outbreaks seen in the early years of this analysis partly because these viruses were more deadly back then with more rudimentary healthcare and poorer general health. Obviously there is much debate about how many people died from the various viruses, especially those further back through time. However, we have provided the best estimates based on comparing various sources. At the end we’ve included a table detailing the specific numbers for each outbreak. For modern context we’ve added MERS, SARS and Ebola to this even though they don’t qualify for the below
analysis given their relatively low fatality tally.
For covid-19 to become one of the 20 most severe pandemics in history on this measure, global fatalities would have to rise from the 178,000 today to just over 1 million. To get into the worst 15, it would need to rise to 5 million. Top 10 would require c.38.5 million and the top 5 over 210.5 million. Fifth on this list at the moment is the Spanish Flu (1918-1919) which killed as many as 50 million people globally (some estimates are lower, some higher) when the population was less than a quarter of what it is today.
In a global population of 7.7 billion, the Diamond Princess model would suggest that 1.56 billion would end up being infected with around 750 million showing symptoms. This could lead to global fatalities at 17.6 million (0.23%) before controls started to have an impact. In terms of absolute numbers, this would be the 5th- highest death toll in history, but as a percentage of the global population it would be ‘only’ the 13th worst of our 24 pandemics/epidemics.In conclusion, this is far from the worst pandemic in history, but its eventual likely lowly place relative to its historical peers in terms of severity will owe much to the
lockdowns that probably wouldn’t have occurred in the past, mitigation going forward and perhaps to a future vaccine. Our intolerance in today’s society to anything close to the levels of fatalities seen through history, and our globally connected world, mean that modern pandemics are likely to consistently be treated in the manner of covid-19 going forward. (fonte: ricerca “storica” di approfondimento di Deutsche Bank)


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