In this article, we take a look back at some of the other pandemics that humans have endured. We investigate cholera, the Black Death, and the Spanish flu, among others. We will note any similarities and take lessons where we can.
Pandemics have played a role in shaping human history throughout the ages. Few people reading this today will remember outbreaks on this scale, but history shows us that although it is devastating, what we are experiencing now is nothing unusual.
For clarity, it is worth explaining what “pandemic” means. The World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source define a pandemic as “the worldwide spread of a new disease.”
First, we will touch on the other pandemic that is ongoing.
With vast improvements in treatment, information, diagnostic capabilities, and surveillance in Western countries, it is easy to forget that experts still class HIV as a pandemic.
Since the early 1980s, HIV has claimed the lives of more than 32 millionTrusted Source people. At the end of 2018, around 37.9 million people were living with HIV.
Although HIV is also caused by a virus, there are significant differences between the two current pandemics; the most obvious being their means of transmission. Unlike SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19, HIV cannot be transmitted by coughs and sneezes.
Comparatively, COVID-19 spreads through communities much more easily. Within a matter of weeks, SARS-CoV-2 made it to every continent on Earth except Antarctica.
Another important difference is that there are currently no drugs that can treat or prevent COVID-19. Although there is no vaccine for HIV, thanks to antiretroviral medications, people who have access to care can now live longTrusted Source and healthy lives.