Pandemics, is Covid the worst?

Well after the last year we should all know by now what pandemics are. As we start 2021 the false promises of politicians saying (and I paraphrase) “lockdown will be done by Christmas” “endure the pain now for a brighter tomorrow” “tier 1,2,3 or 4 now then we can have our christmas” it seems each step politicians move their own goalposts as well as everyone else’s.

The real tragedy in all this are facts. There are no real facts readily available and in fact (sic) asking for them brands you a covid denier or a worse a facists spreader of lies. There are literally people on twitter having social media melt downs and rants where before they would accept dissent as part of the freedom of the west. What governs this? Fear. The fear of catching, passing, killing with or just simply disagreeing about Covid 19. In the 21st Century I’m sure we believe we can stop anything and Hollywood and TV is probably to blame for this fantasy many in the modern world hold onto. Step outside your metropolitan bubbles people, you have so little control it is really scary and Covid is literally just another bug that the majority will survive, unlike some of the pandemics below.

FACTS (as of 5 JAN 2021)

  • World Population 7.8B
  • World-wide Deaths: 1.88M
  • World-wide cases: 87M
  • Currently 2.1%
  • Infection Fatality Rate (IFR): 1.4% (Flu (IFR) 2%)
  • Births so far 2021 (as of 6 Jan) 2.2M
  • Deaths so far ( As of 6 Jan, all causes not just covid) 889K

So with those figures I took today compare them with the following pandemics and get some perspective.

The Middle Ages

Leprosy (aka “Hansen’s disease”) is a slow-developing bacterial disease that can lead to damage of the nerves, skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. Some patients can no longer feel pain, which may result in the partial loss of extremities. The disease has affected humans for thousands of years, but it became a pandemic in Europe during the Middle Ages. It is believed that around 19,000 leper houses existed in Europe during this time. There are still around 200,000 cases of leprosy a year, but it can now be cured with medication. However, some patients need ongoing treatment for complications like blindness and paralysis.

Russian Flu

The Russian flu (aka “Asiatic flu”) was a deadly influenza pandemic that killed approximately one million people around the globe. The outbreak started spreading in 1889 and was the largest 19th-century epidemic of influenza. It was also the first true epidemic that happened in the era of bacteriology.

The Third Cholera Pandemic

The deadliest of the seven cholera outbreaks was the third major outbreak that lasted from 1852 to 1860. Just like the first two pandemics, the third originated in India and spread throughout Asia, Europe, North America, and Africa. In 1854 (the worst year), cholera killed 23,000 people in Great Britain. Approximately, 10,000 of those victims were from London. During the third cholera pandemic, about one million people lost their lives.


For centuries, smallpox was a menace in Europe, Asia, and Arabia. Three of every 10 infected people died. The first European explorers brought the virus to the New World, where people were not immune to the disease. . In North and South America, smallpox took approximately 100 years to destroy about 90 percent of the indigenous people. In Mexico, the population dropped to one million people from about 11 million before the European conquest. Centuries later, smallpox was the first virus epidemic stopped by a vaccine. In 1980, the World Health Organization declared that smallpox had been eradicated across the globe.

Antonine Plague

One of the deadliest pandemics in history is also one of the oldest. The Antonine Plague occurred in 165–180 and ultimately took the lives of about five million people. The Romans brought the disease back home with them after a war with the Parthians which. The disease started in Asia Minor and then spread to Greece and Italy. For the next two decades, the Roman Empire saw an outbreak unlike anything they had ever experienced. At the peak of the spread, they were seeing about 2,000 fatalities per day.

5 Asian Flu

In the 20th century, the second major influenza pandemic was the Asian flu of 1957 (aka the “Asian flu pandemic”). The outbreak was responsible for more than one million deaths. At the beginning of the Asian flu pandemic, the virus spread throughout China and the surrounding regions. Just three months into 1958, the United States had estimated that nearly 70,000 deaths linked to the Asian flu.

4 The Great Plague

As part of the Second Plague Pandemic, the Great Plague of 1665 caused leaders to close all public entertainment and seal the sick in their homes to help prevent the spread of the disease. In all, London lost roughly 15 percent of its population. Although the city recorded approximately 69,000 deaths, the actual number is believed to be over 100,000.

3 Black Death

One of the most devastating pandemics in history was the Great Bubonic Plague (aka the “Black Death“) in the mid-1300s. A deadly outbreak of the bubonic plague started in China in the 1330s. As the country was one of the busiest trading nations, the disease quickly spread elsewhere. By 1347, the Black Death had arrived in Europe after several infected ships docked at Messina, a Sicilian port. Just five years later, the plague had killed over 20 million people in Europe.

2 The Third Plague Pandemic

In 1855, during the Xianfeng Emperor’s reign of the Qing dynasty, the Third Plague Pandemic began in China. This deadly bubonic plague eventually traveled through India and Hong Kong, killing at least 12–15 million people. India suffered the most casualties with more than 10 million deaths. Casualties from the Third Plague Pandemic dropped to fewer than 200 per year in 1960.

1 Spanish Flu

The deadliest flu pandemic in history started in 1918 and infected about one-third of the world’s population, or approximately 500 million people. Although estimates vary, it is believed that the Spanish flu killed about 50 million people, including almost 700,000 Americans. The first wave of the influenza occurred in spring 1918, and it was generally mild. The second wave was highly contagious and hit the world with a vengeance. The Spanish flu was initially seen in Europe, the United States, and Asia before spreading across the globe. Victims of the influenza were dying within hours and days of developing symptoms. The average life span in the US had decreased by 12 years after the Spanish flu had been around for only one year. Schools, private homes, and other buildings became makeshift hospitals due to overcrowding in medical facilities. Quarantines were imposed, people were ordered to wear masks, and businesses were shut down until the virus completed its deadly run.

Hope that is useful and incase you were wondering about thoughts now and 6 months ago, here is the factsheet I did back in July.