#TBT: The deadliest pandemic in modern history

Cities across the U.S. closed schools, churches, and theaters to stop this deadly virus from spreading... And no, it wasn't coronavirus.

It was the deadliest pandemic in modern history

A virus that spread around the globe infecting tens of millions of people and overwhelming medical services on multiple continents. Patients developed fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Cities across the U.S. closed their schools, churches, theaters, and bars to slow the spread, and masks were recommended. It was the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 that killed 50 million people worldwide.

The last major pandemic

“The Spanish flu was the last major pandemic that we saw aggressively test health systems around the globe.”, Alexandre White, a professor of medical history, tells Brut. Despite its name, the first identified cases were in the U.S. in the last year of WWI before soldiers spread it to Europe. Though the pandemic didn't originate in Spain, and Spain wasn't as badly hit as other countries, it was the first country to widely report on it, thus giving the disease its nickname.

The Spanish flu and coronavirus?

The disease created a global scare similar to coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, today. But the two pandemics are very different. Modern tools for understanding and treating viruses didn't exist 100 years ago. “We have ventilators and the capacity to intubate patients in such a way that we can significantly manage the complications of a disease like this. And we also have the capacity to more effectively sanitize and hygienically treat people in hospital spaces. I think we also have the capacity to respond more effectively as individuals because of our generally higher levels and capacity for hygiene to wash our hands. We have access to clean water. All of these things that make it easier to sanitize the spaces that we live in and protect ourselves from COVID-19.”, he continued.

The massive displacements of WWI also rapidly spread the disease

White states, “After World War One, health systems were already shattered. People were weakened and compromised in general as a result of years of one of the most disastrous wars humanity has ever known. And as a result of people traveling back and forth from war zones to their home or refugees traveling back to their homelands, you had a lot of movement of people who are able to carry the disease more effectively than you might have outside of the context of war. And unlike coronavirus, which hits older people the hardest, the Spanish flu was deadly among the young and healthy. The Spanish flu pandemic ended quickly, in the summer of 1919. The virus may have mutated to become less deadly. But a few simple tactics also helped save lives, some of which are now being used to combat coronavirus.


03/18/2020 11:57 AM
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  • 72


  • Sheryl S.
    a day

    I just watched a documentary on the 1918 pandemic and it is on YouTube and there are a few different ones!! Stay home and stay safe please!! I’m praying 🧎‍♀️ for all of us today and everyday and we can do this together via Facebook, Twitter instagram,etc!!🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 be kind to one another please and thank you for your part!!❤️❤️

  • Gert H.
    2 days

    Is the world prepared for this?Do you have a Pandemic Survival Mindset

  • Crisden M.
    2 days

    eto yung worst

  • Donna K.
    5 days

  • Peter B.
    5 days

    Million of deaths to come, stay home stay safe stop the spread

  • Carol F.
    6 days

    It 5g

  • Yeye R.
    03/29/2020 08:29

    , teh ..

  • Patricia P.
    03/29/2020 06:01

  • Logan W.
    03/26/2020 10:25

    In 100 years time this will be us going through this

  • Konrad I.
    03/25/2020 15:30

  • Mya Z.
    03/25/2020 04:45 plan final !!

  • Liza A.
    03/24/2020 19:47


  • M K.
    03/24/2020 14:09

    Mo salah speaking

  • Frea J.
    03/24/2020 14:05

    It should be US flu. US ashamed to name it like that huh?

  • Katie '.
    03/24/2020 09:16

    Nope the bubonic plague killed millions

  • Charlz M.
    03/24/2020 04:57

    Cutie ito og

  • Jasleen K.
    03/24/2020 02:54

    Do u peoe really have enoufh ventilators and otger machinery, then y so panic, please admit the truth that u people are nit at all prepared for this pandemic....

  • Harshala P.
    03/23/2020 08:49

    And now the Chinese virus

  • Sara C.
    03/23/2020 05:21

    O fi fost tot Corina??🤔

  • Alexandre H.
    03/22/2020 20:08

    as a spaniard i protest. The name should be changed to US flu..... because that is where it originated right? Tell this to your president plzzzz so we can start doing the changes in school books.