Importance of Biochemistry

6-Lessons learned from past pandemics

Past pandemics


What past pandemics can teaches us?

6-Lessons from past pandemics :

6-Lessons from past pandemic are listed below.With 4.1 million confirmed cases and 81,000 deaths worldwide as of this writing, the Corona Virus pandemic has become a global tragedy unlike any other in our lives, but historians remind us that this is not the most deadly pandemic, nor the first human battle with an infectious disease.

In 1918, a century ago, the influenza pandemic invaded the world, and the cause of killing about 100 million people – about 5% of the world’s population – before social separation helped limit its spread.

In the late eighteenth century, smallpox invaded the American West and killed indigenous communities, with a mortality rate of 38% of cases or more, which led to the development of the first vaccine in the world after less than two decades.

Other outbreaks – such as cholera in the nineteenth century and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the twentieth century – brought xenophobia as well as hate disease, and revealed that fear and blame may divert attention from efforts to find a cure.

“Epidemics reveal rifts in our society, they highlight our weaknesses, but they also highlight our ability to deal,” says Elizabeth Fein, professor of history at the University of Colorado Boulder, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning epidemiologist and author of (The American Smallpox: The Great Pandemic 1175-1782). With kindness, generosity and cooperation from our depths, we learn many lessons from it.

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Lessons from past pandemics

Here are some of these lessons:

1- The importance of names

Contrary to earlier belief, the influenza pandemic that spread in 1918 – often known as the Spanish flu – did not originate in Spain, and may have started at a military base in Fort Riley – Kansas.

“The Spanish influenza was accidentally attributed to Spain, just because Spain published its first news reports,” said Susan Kent, history professor at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Spain was neutral in World War I, and it was not subject to the media blackout associated with the war, which prevented warring states such as Germany, the United States, and France from reporting the disease.

Some scientists have suggested that the release of the Spanish flu name spreads an incorrect message, and then represents a threat of isolation and deportation, delaying steps to combat its spread in the United States.

Kent notes that it is similar to some of what happened today, such as describing the Corona virus with names such as (Wuhan flu) or (Chinese flu).

2- The importance of social separation

In 1918, the virus spread rapidly through American soldiers traveling between the American East Coast and European battlefields, carrying the virus with them.

“The emergence of the virus during the war was behind it so deadly, and it spread rapidly throughout the world, and that is no different from what we are living in today as a result of massive globalization,” says Kent.

With the absence of advanced sequencing techniques and microscopes that we have today, researchers mistakenly thought that the disease was caused by bacteria, and efforts to treat and vaccinate it failed.

With no other reliable tools, schools, theaters and libraries were eventually closed, sports patrols canceled, military commanders isolated their soldiers, and government employees wore masks.

Altogether 675,000 people died in the United States, more than the Second World War American victim, and the number could have been greater.

“Isolation is the only way to prevent the spread of the virus,” Kent said. “The communities have done this and have achieved good results, and those that have not, the death rate has increased.” It is a very important lesson for us these days, and it is a shame not to learn from it. ”

6-lessons from past pandemics

3- The virus does not exclude young people

The possibility of the young and healthy influenza pandemic in 1918 was the largest, killing people 15-45 years old, with a high and rapid death rate.

“They got sick quickly, and some of them literally fell on the streets,” Kent recalled, noting that their faces were blue due to a lack of oxygen.

It turns out that the reason was strong immune systems in young adults, as they released a torrent of anti-virus molecules called cytokines, which stick to lung tissue and cause fatal damage.

The demographic characteristics of Corona virus differ, as it affects the elderly and weakened immunity, but its behavior in young and healthy people is similar to the behavior of the old virus with a degree of concern. Recent reports indicate that the possible cause of side effects that occur in young people is the immune response called (cytokine storm).

“The same thing happened in 1918,” Kent notes. “The strong immune system has killed other parts of the body, especially the lungs.” This could lead us to new ways of thinking about Covid-19 treatments.

4- The importance of pollination

Soldiers participating in the American War of Independence adopted an unusual approach to the prevention of smallpox during the epidemic that ravaged North America in the period 1775 – 1782, and the protection process was known as rumination or vaccination, as they were taking material loaded with the virus from a pimple of a person with smallpox, and they open a crack in The body of a healthy person and rub it inside!

All those who were vaccinated were isolated after they fell ill, and about 5% died, and the rest had a reduced version of smallpox.

“The vaccination was undoubtedly successful,” Finn said. “Those who received it got immunity to disease and were able to travel around the world without worrying about smallpox.”

Years later, in the year 1796, Edward Jenner (who had been vaccinated when he was young) tried the same with cowpox, taking a virus-loaded substance from a woman with cowpox and rubbing it in the wound of an 8-year-old boy, and by exposing the boy to smallpox he did not develop the disease.

The concept of vaccination was born at the time, as the name was derived from the Latin word vacca, meaning cow.

Going back to our time, we find that we use the same idea, as scientists try to use the idea (convalescence plasma), that is, to use the blood of survivors of the disease, which contains antibodies as a treatment.

5- Do not blame the sick

With the spread of the Coruna virus, a wave of anti-Asian reactions came around the world, partly driven by the fact that the disease appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and invaded the Chinese population first.

This is not a new thing, Finn says: “We are very likely to blame the patients, and this has happened a lot throughout history.”

During the cholera epidemic in the nineteenth century, white Protestants avoided and immigrated Irish immigrants as carriers of this scourge, as well as African and poor Americans were targeted as polio invaded the nation in the mid-twentieth century. Acquired (AIDS).

“While people were busy blaming homosexuals for AIDS, valuable years were lost that could have been used to find the cause of the disease,” Finn said.

In contrast, the World Health Organization declared in 1980 that smallpox was the first human disease to be eradicated. This was achieved through cooperation.

“Today we can learn and act based on the fact that global cooperation and knowledge sharing will help us cope with these outbreaks, or we can evacuate ourselves and insist that we continue to experience disease on our own,” says Kent.

6- All this will end

According to Kent, the Coronavirus is as horrific as it will be, with no 1918 pandemic levels, because our public health systems, our scientific tools and our medical supplies (despite their shortages) are much better.

“Compared to previous epidemics, we also have previous experience in dealing with such epidemics,” adds Fein.

For the first time in an epidemic on such a large scale, we know from the start what is the causative agent of the disease.

There is no doubt that the coming months will be difficult, but with social isolation, building herd immunity, and ongoing cooperation to develop treatments and vaccines, we can be optimistic.

All we need now is time. “I suggest that now is the time for us to pay attention and learn from what this disease reveals about us, so that we can move forward with this knowledge,” Finn said.

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