Rewind: Pandemics – Understanding the Past, Present & Future of COVID-19

Pandemics – Understanding the Past, Present & Future of COVID - 19

Bottom Line: First, let’s be clear about what changed when the WHO declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. COVID-19 is now called a pandemic. Here’s the definition of a pandemic:  



  • (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.

Clear? Frankly, it could have been called a pandemic in January had the WHO decided to do so. The first thing to know is that structurally nothing is different today than yesterday pertaining to the virus. This is different than say meaningful declarations like a “state of emergency” when declared by federal, state and local governments. Those declarations mobilize government resources to communities to directly respond to local needs. My point is this… The state of emergency declared by the state of Florida days ago is more important and effectual to you than the WHO calling this a pandemic. This is where pragmatism is important – regardless of how news media treats or handles this issue. To be clear, and the CDC has been saying this from day 1. COVID-19 was always going to be a bigger problem before it would subside as an issue. Now, for some context, here’s the recent history of virus-based “Pandemics”:

  • 1918: H1N1 Virus 
  • 1957: H2N2 Virus 
  • 1968: H3N2 Virus 
  • 2009: H1N1 Virus 

There are a couple of themes you can discern from these occurrences. First, the most common form of the traditional flu virus this season has twice been declared a pandemic. This is what viruses do. They mutate. The odds are one day the virus that’s being called a pandemic today will be the basic flu virus of tomorrow. Second, the world didn’t end and it won’t end due to this virus. But be mindful that a vaccine isn’t a “cure”. The flu vaccine for the H1N1 virus this flu season is 46% effective. Medical science has been chasing it for 102 years. Third, it will get worse in the United States before it gets better, so be prepared, smart and listen to authorities, not hype in news media from people who lack perspective and may have their own agenda(s). As for using history as a guide... 

The 2009 pandemic, which all but the youngest among us can relate to, resulted in the death of 12,469 Americans. The U.S. population is slightly larger, and slightly older today, so it’s reasonable to expect we’ll see a number higher than that one with COVID-19 this year. As of this entry 38 Americans have died. It’s early. Don’t be surprised when the number goes higher. It will. Almost certainly by thousands. But again, that doesn’t mean anything will be different at the point if/when it happens, or that you should feel differently in the meantime. There are two sides to stories and one side to facts. Control what you can control like good hygiene, which is always advisable, and making sound decisions based on official guidance.  

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