As many in the world begin to look to reopening their economies, the World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesushief warned today “the worst is yet ahead of us.”
He raised the specter of the Spanish flu, calling COVID-19 a “very dangerous combination … like the 1918 flu that killed up to 100 million people.”
“We have been warning from Day One,” he said. “This is a devil that everybody should fight.”
WHO chief on coronavirus pandemic: ‘The worst is yet ahead’
I mentioned earlier today that I have been reading The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John Barry.
Three chilling facts.
It was the second wave of the Spanish flu that laid waste to the world.
The people it targeted, unlike COVID so far, were the young and healthy, those with the strongest immune systems. The Spanish flu killed more people between the ages of twenty-five and twenty-nine than it did people over sixty.
It killed with great speed. In some cases a perfectly healthy person would take ill and be dead within hours.
Here’s two other comparisons to modern day.
After the first wave passed, some declared the epidemic over and started to return to normal.
The author writes: “The virus had not disappeared. It had only gone underground, like a forest fire left burning in the roots, adapting, honing itself, watching and waiting, waiting to burst into flame.”
In Philadelphia, a city run by a Tammany Hall, a system that relied on patronage over professionalism, many top medical people in the health department were replaced by hacks at a time when the best people were desperately needed.
“Most jobs in the Department of Health were not patronage positions, so to create vacancies Tammany began to smear the best municipal health department in the world.” Division chiefs were fired and highly respected physicians removed from their posts.
Politics before science. Sound familiar.
Trump’s plans to cut WHO funding amid the coronavirus could exacerbate the crisis and cost more American lives
I started The Great Influenza months ago and found the first part incredibly boring where the writer introduces the reader to the state of medical research at the time and the people who will later play a role in battling the epidemic. Start reading the book instead at Part IV “It Begins.”
It has been hard to put down from that point on, but sometimes I have to put it down because it scares the hell out of me.
A sad day in Connecticut. Hospitalizations, particularly in Hartford rose, and 204 deaths were added to the death roles that now exceed 1300. The high number represented some catch up numbers from days earlier that hadn’t been reported.
April 20, 2020 COVID Report