A comparison and a contrast – Le Journal


In 1917, the United States entered one of the deadliest wars in world history. Woodrow Wilson’s “Peace Without Victory” speech was an interesting take on World War I, but with a new threat looming at the national level, victory or defeat were the only two options.

Annual Report of the Health Service, 1918-19 | University of Illinois Archives

In 1918, the Spanish flu, probably caused by bird bacteria, ravaged parts of North America, Europe and Asia. About 500 million people have been infected, or about a third of the world’s population. Of those infected, around 50 million are thought to have died worldwide, but some estimates put the number as close to 100 million. For reference, approximately 750,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19 during the duration of the current pandemic. The Spanish flu pandemic has been attributed to an estimated 675,000 deaths in the United States, although the American population is less than a third of what it is today.

That’s not to say COVID-19 should be taken lightly. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center, the death rate from COVID-19 in the United States is around 228 deaths per 100,000. In contrast, average cases of influenza and pneumonia result in around 15 deaths per 100,000. 100,000.

If COVID-19 doesn’t cause the same death rate as the Spanish flu, why should we care? It is difficult to say whether or not the Spanish flu was more highly transmissible than COVID-19. Medical research was still in its infancy in the early 1900s. Many hospitals still operated largely with archaic techniques. Medical technology was more or less old. Health spending in the United States was only 0.25% of the country’s GDP at the turn of the 20th century. During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare spending hit an all-time high, accounting for 9.5% of GDP.

The Flexner report published in 1910, published through the Carnegie Foundation, called on American medical schools to adopt stricter requirements for admission and graduation. Abraham Flexner, the author of the report, found that most medical schools back then operated much like trade schools operate today. Most could graduate after just two years of study, and homeopathy and electrotherapy were still widely taught. Flexner believed that by reducing the talent pool and focusing only on scientific evidence, the medical field would flourish. The Flexner report is still considered a principle in medical education.

The sign reading, “Masks required in this area,” is seen as travelers prepare to check-in for their Delta Airlines flight at Miami International Airport on February 1, 2021 in Miami. (Photo by Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Mask and vaccine warrants have become a controversial and symbolic issue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This was not necessarily the case in 1918. The first mask mandates in 1918 took place primarily on the West Coast where they were eventually greeted with overwhelming support. The ordinances were so strict that in fact a mayor was arrested for not wearing them. Mayor John L. Davie of Oakland, Calif., Strongly in favor of the ordinance, was smoking a cigar when officers walked past him and asked him to carry it. After putting on his mask, the officers continued to walk. Davie uncovered his face to continue smoking when the officer turned around. Davie was arrested and posted his $ 5 bond.

A Philadelphia streetcar is shown during the 1918-19 pandemic, adorned with a poster warning “SPIT SPREADS DEATH”. Shawshots / Alamy

No US state issued mask warrants during the 1918 pandemic. However, the public was strongly encouraged. In Philadelphia, streetcars displayed “Spit Spreads Death” signs. In New York City, sputum orders have been put in place. People were encouraged to sneeze or cough into a tissue, a now common practice.

Three pandemic waves were observed in many places from 1918 to 1919, as in this data from Breslau, Silesia (now Wroclaw, Poland), documenting monthly influenza mortality from June 1918 to December 1922 | Jeffery K Taubenberger. ResearchGate

The pandemic operated in three distinct waves. The first, in the spring of 1918, the second, the deadliest, in the fall of 1918 and the last, in the winter of 1919. The COVID-19 pandemic has experienced similar fluctuations. The first major wave occurred in fall / winter 2020-2021, early summer 2021, and late summer / early fall 2021. Some blame summer 2021 and the wave Current COVID-19 on the unvaccinated.

Unlike the polio vaccine of the 1950s, for which the success of inventor Jonas Salk has been championed, the COVID-19 vaccine has been strongly rejected. COVID-19 vaccines have been made largely using mRNA. The use of mRNA-based therapies has primarily been used to treat tumors in cancer patients. The mRNA in COVID-19 vaccines works like instructions, telling direct cells in the body to generate proteins to repel or shrink the virus. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not affect DNA. With that said, allergies and warning labels should be taken into consideration before dosing.

Why has there been such reluctance to the COVID-19 vaccine? It is a puzzle to reduce reason to one. About 88% of one-year-olds worldwide have been vaccinated against tuberculosis, 86% against polio and 85% against DTP3, measles and hepatitis B. A survey by the Kaiser Foundation found that the conversations with friends and families played a major role in immunization status. Did you learn or hear anything that convinced you to get the vaccine? Many of those who received the vaccine in this category claimed to have been vaccinated to protect their friends and family, as well as to see pressure from these same groups. That said, political theories, social media, and tribal relations have certainly had a negative impact on vaccine numbers.

The 1918 pandemic saw no real vaccine development. Without specific diagnostic tools, it was difficult to determine whether or not the influenza virus was the culprit or severe acute respiratory illness (SARS). On October 2, 1918, William H. Park, chief bacteriologist in the New York City Department of Health, was working on a vaccine against Pfeiffer’s bacterial flu. Park’s vaccine was administered primarily to large corporations and military camps. About 39,000 doses of Park’s vaccine have been administered. In late 1918, the New York Health Commissioner, Royal S. Copeland, described the vaccination attempt as “applying an old idea to a new disease.” In 1919, the American Journal of Public Health claimed that the responsible organism was still unknown and that vaccines had an insignificant chance of targeting the right thing. A vaccine mixed by EC Rosenow of the Mayo Foundation had positive effects. The Rosenow vaccine has been replicated and administered to 500,000 patients.

Medical workers outside Elmhurst Hospital in New York’s Queens neighborhood on March 26, 2020. The hospital reported that 13 COVID-19 patients died within 24 hours. Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

As we have seen the COVID-19 virus mutate, the 1918 pandemic leaves little hope for the future. While the Spanish flu was under strict control after 1919, the mutations have continued to harm human and animal life ever since. Almost all cases of influenza since the pandemic have been caused by descendants of the 1918 virus. These viruses have spread to pigs, birds and humans. The 1918 virus contains genes specific to the H2N2, H1H1, H3N2 line. The descendants of the 1918 pandemic virus still persist enzootically in pigs. However, all the descendants of the 1918 pandemic caused significantly milder illness.

Does the COVID-19 virus originate from China? It can be difficult to restrict a virus to a specific geographic location. Before and after 1918, many influenza viruses can be traced back to Asia. However, the 1918 pandemic was carried out for the first time in North America. It could be argued that the virus made its debut in Asia, but historical and epidemiological data are too insufficient to date its origin.

Letter from Joseph B. Eson to Dean Clark | University of Illinois Archives

In a more localized story, the University of Illinois remained open during the 1918 pandemic. The reason behind the move was caused by the low retention rates of staff and students. In Champaign-Urbana, theaters and other public spaces have closed their doors. The university implemented a plan against the virus increasing hospital beds from 30 to 400. Elmor Eson, one of 15 infected students, died of symptoms of pneumonia. His father would write a letter to Dean Clark asking him to stop repeated demands for debt repayment.

A story in two periods, but the similarities are clear. Will COVID-19 be largely eradicated or will our grandchildren feel the mistakes of their elders?


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