World Pandaemic More Or Lesser Equivalent To covid-19: Things I Wish I'd Known Earlier

 In this article, I have tried to get into all the pandemics/epidemics been faced by the World. The purpose here is to get into a belief that humans have defeated the pandemics not just once but many a time. So here we start the article about various pandemics been registered worldwide till now except covid-19 as I believe it's the most heard topic nowadays & every one of us already know about it.

1. The Plague Justinian (541-549 AD).

The 1st plague pandemic named the Plague of Justinian was observed in the time 541-549 AD.  This was a contagious disease and caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis.  The plague is named for the Roman emperor of that time Constantinople Justinian. The emperor also got infected by the bacteria and get recovered in 542. The bacteria distressed entire Europe, Mediterranean Basin, and the Near East, the heavily affected areas were the Sasanian Empire, Roman Empire, and especially its capital Constantinople. The pandemic at its peak killed about a fifth of the population in the Imperial capital. The plague arrived in the Roman Empire in 541 AD, stretched around the Mediterranean Sea until 544 AD. Northern Europe and the Arabian region remained affected until 549 AD.


2. The Black Death (1346-1353)

The deadliest pandemic noticed in human history is the Black Death also famous by the names the Plague, the Great Mortality, or the Pestilence. The bacteria behind the pandemic was Yersinia pestis. This bacteria most commonly results in Bubonic Plague but can also cause pneumonic or Septicaemic plague. The Black Death pandemic caused the deaths of 75-200 million people in North Africa and Eurasia, The peak time in Europe was 1347-1351.

The Black Death was the 2nd plague pandemic observed by humanity. This pandemic also created social, economic, and religious disruption with sagacious effects on European history. The territorial origin of the Black Death is not pretty clear. The pandemic originated either in East Asia or Central Asia but its first sensed appearance was in Crimea in 1347. From there it was fleas living on black rats who most likely carried it by traveling on Genoese merchant ships, rolling it throughout the Mediterranean Basin and reaching  Western Asia (Africa) and to the rest of Europe via Constantinople and the Italian Peninsula. Registered proofs indicate that once it came onshore, the pandemic was in large part spread by the human fleas the reason behind the pneumonic plague.  Also the individual to individual contact via aerosols which pneumonic plague enables, the reason behind the quick inland spread of the deadly plague. It was until the 19th century that the world kept on registering its outbreaks.

3. The Great Plague of London (1665-1666)

It was London (England) that registered the major pandemic of the bubonic plague in 1665-1666. It got featured within the centuries-long second pandemic I.e The Black Death mentioned above. The London’s great plague put an end to the almost a quarter of Lodon’s population, estimated to 100,000 people in just 18 months. The great plague was again caused by the Yersinia pests bacterium which is commonly passed on by the infected rat flea. As compared to earlier plague pandemic this great London Plague was on a much smaller scale. This 18 months long plague was named as “great” plague as it was last widespread outbreak of the bubonic plague anywhere in the world.

4. Spanish Flu (Feb1918 - Apr 1920)

The Spanish flu lasting from February 1918 to April 1920 is also known by the name 1918 flu pandemic. It was an unusually fatal influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus. This flu was registered in four successive waves infecting near about 500 million people i.e about a third of world’s population at that time. This was on of the deadliest pandemic in human history as fatalities registered were about between 25 million to 55 million.

It was New York City and Kansas in United States which noticed the first illness and mortality in Dec1917 almost 6 months before this flu pandemic entered Spain. Also in order to maintain morale World War1 censors played down these initial reports. It was neutral Spain where newspapers were free to publish the epidemic’s effects and one out of that was the cumbrous illness of King Alfonso 13th and it was this story that created a false conception of Spain as the worst affected due to this flu. This is the reason for naming this flu as “Spanish” flu. The Spanish flu of 1918 was the 1st pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus.

Warning against spread of Spanish flu.

5. Asian Flu Pandemic (1957-1958)

The Asian flu pandemic was a global pandemic of subtype H2N2 influenza A virus that came into existence from Guizhou, China. This flu pandemic caused the death of 2-5 million people worldwide. It was the recombination of avian influenza and human viruses that developed a new strain of virus named influenza A virus subtypeH2N2 that caused the Asian flu pandemic. Due to the novel strain of the virus, the present population had minimal immunity against the flu. It was The Times which on 17th April reported that the influenza epidemic has affected thousands of citizens of Hong Kong. By the end of the month, the outbreak of the new flu was also experienced in Singapore, peaking in mid of May with 680 casualties. In Taiwan, 100,000 people were affected by mid-May and India reached a million cases by the month of June. In the last June or early July, the Asian flu pandemic entered the United Kingdom.

In June 1957, the flu entered the US, where it initially caused few infections. It was the US Navy personnel at the destroyers docked at the Newport Naval Station who were the first infected in the US. The first wave peaked in October and it was the children returning to the school after summer break who got majorly affected. In January and February 1958, the second wave of the flu was registered and became more fatal amongst elderly people.

As per the famous microbiologist Maurice Hilleman, the pictures of the virus affected published in The New York Times were really alarming. He obtained a sample of viruses from a doctor in Japan. The Public Health Service released the virus cultures to vaccine manufacturers on 12 May 1957 and thus helping out to start vaccine trails at Fort Ord on 26 July and Lowry Air Force Base on 29 July.

In the week ending 17 October, the number of deaths peaked with 600 entries in England and Wales. The vaccine was available in the same month in the United Kingdom. Initially it was available in limited numbers and Vaccine’s rapid deployment helped restrain the pandemic.

Advertisement for medicines against Asian flu.

6. The Hong Kong Flu (1968-1969)

The 1968 flu pandemic also known as Hong Kong flu, was a flu pandemic caused by an H3N2 strain of the influenza virus. The out break of this flu in 1968-1969 caused death of 1-4 million people worldwide. 

It was Hong Kong where the first recorded instance of the outbreak was registered on 13 July 1968. Some unconfirmed reports also suggest that the outbreak actually began in Mainland China before it reaches Hong Kong. By the end of July 1968, major hits were registered in Singapore and Vietnam. Despite the fatality of the 1957 Asian Flu in China, little improvement had been made with respect to the handling of such epidemics. It was The Times who was the first to report the new possible pandemic. By September 1968, they reached northern Australia, India, the Philippines, and Europe. It was in the same month that the troops returning from the Vietnam War carried it to California. It was in the year 1969 that it entered Japan, South America, and Africa. 

The mortality rate of this flu pandemic was lesser than the other 20th century pandemic. The flu was allowed to spread through the peoples without restrictions on economic activity, until the vaccine to cater to this flu was developed four months after the Hong Kong flu began.

Hong Kong flu spread worldwide.


Reconstruction of its genetic history shows that the HIV pandemic originated in Kinshasa, Congo in 1920. It was in 1981 that AIDS was first recognized, the HIV virus was discovered and recognised as the main cause of AIDS and by 2010 AIDS caused approximately 30 million fatalities worldwide.

Human Immunodeficiency virus is considered by authors as a global pandemic. As of 2018, nearly 38 million people are infected by HIV worldwide. In the year 2018, 780,000 casualties were registered from AIDS. According to reports in The Lancet, the global incidence of HIV infection peaked up to 3.4 million per year in 1997. The worldwide count fell rapidly in the time frame 1997-2005, to about approximately 2.5 million per year and remained stable in-between 2005-2015.

South East Asia is a region with about 2 billion population as of 2010.  This region has an estimated 4.1 million HIV cases (13% of all people infected with HIV), registering approximately 250,000 casualties in 2010. India accounts for 2.5 million of these total number of 4.1 million cases.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the area most affected by HIV. In the year 2018, an estimated 60% of new HIV infections were registered in this region.South Africa has the largest population of people with HIV infection in the world, at 7 million as of 2017.

    HIV statistics 2019

8. SARS (2002-2004)

The SARS was an epidemic involving severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV or SARS-CoV-1). The infection was first registered in Guangdong, Foshan, China on 16th Nov 2002. A total of 30 countries and territories were affected by this SARS virus and approx 770 deaths were recorded after the spread of this virus in over 8100 people. The outbreak was at its peak mainly for about 8 months, since the WHO declared SARS closure on 5th Jul 2003. 

A new strain of coronavirus i.e SARS-CoV-2 closely related to the virus causing SARS was discovered in Wuhan, China in Dec 2019. This new strain is the reason behind the ongoing deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

SARS spread worldwide

9. MERS (2012 - till now)

Middle East respiratory syndrome is also known as camel flu. The virus behind this infection is MERS-coronavirus & affects the respiratory system of the human body.Symptoms may range from none, to mild, to severe. The common symptom includes cough, fever, shortness of breath and diarrhoea. The virus is typically lethal for people having other health problems. 

MERS-CoV is a virus that is believed to be originated from bats. Whereas the humans are infected by the direct and the indirect contact of the camels. For a human to human spread, it requires close contact with an infected person. The risk of this virus to the global population is pretty low as the spread of MERS is uncommon outside the hospitals. The Diagnosis is by RT-PCR testing of blood and respiratory samples.

Most of the MERS cases have occurred in the Arabian Peninsula and the first case was registered in June 2012 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. By January 2020 approximately 2400 cases have been reported worldwide and out of which approximately 900 people have lost their life. As of now there is no specific vaccine for MERS. Lager outbreaks have been registered in South Korea 2015 and in Saudi Arabia 2018.

10. Western African Ebola virus (Dec 2013 - Jun 2016)

Western Africa Ebola virus was the most prevalent outbreak of Ebola virus disease in History resulting in a major loss of life and socioeconomic disruption in the region of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. In Dec 2013 the first case of EVD was registered in Guinea and later on neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia also got affected. Small outbreaks were of EVD were registered in Nigeria and Mali. The mortality rate for this virus was about 40% as 11,300 deaths were recorded for an total of 28,600 infected, while the mortality rate of hospitalised patient was 57-59%. 

WHO on 8th August 2014 declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and this emergency was outlifted on 29 March 2016. The epidemic was finally declared over on 9th June 2016 i.e after the 42 days of the last case tested as negative. In Dec 2016, the WHO announced rVSV-ZEBOV as the official vaccine to control the EVD virus. The vaccine is considered to be effective and is the only vaccine that offers protection till now.

11. Zika Virus (April 2015 - November 2016)

In April 2015, Zika fever a widespread epidemic caused by the Zika virus in Brazil spread to other areas of South and North America. Pacific and Southeast Asia were also affected from this. The WHO in Jan 2016 amounced that the virus was likely to spread throughout most of the US. It was in Nov 2016 that the WHO announced the end of the Zika virus. 

In Feb 2016, evidence were found that the Zika virus can cause birth defects and neurological problems and considering this WHO declared the Zika outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The virus can be transferred by an infected pregnant woman to her fetus causing microcephaly in infants. Zika virus in adults can cause Guillain Barre syndrome. Earlier to these findings Zika was treated as a mild infection due to its asymptomatic occurrence. In approximately one of five cases, Zika affected patient gets a fever, a minor illness that causes symptoms such as fever and a rash.

A number of countries were issued travel warnings in order to minimize the spread of the virus. Several countries took some unusual steps like advising the citizens to delay pregnancy until the virus becomes known and its impact on fetal development. 

12. United States Flu season (2017 - 2018)

The United States flu season originated in late 2017 and ended in early 2018. The deadly strain of the influenza was H3N2. The influenza B virus became more dominant in the months March-May. 

The flu was indicated as widespread in every state of the US except that for Hawaii and Oregon. The flu was intensified by the shortage of IV bags caused by the closing of the IV bag plant in Puerto Rico because of the Maria Hurricane. Approximately 60,000 Americans lost their life due to influenza in the 2017-18 flu season. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention considers October 2017 as the starting time for this US flu season, whereas by the early February2018, the flu was still widespread and increasing overall. In February 2018, as per CDC, the spreading virus contains both B strains H!N1, and H3N2(Yamagata & Victoria). The Bloomberg on 10th February 2018 published that influenza is responsible for the death of 4000 people per week.


Narendar Singh


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