How will Coronavirus end?
Author: Abbie Giles
Posted October 10th, 2020
We are in the midst of a global pandemic and it is unclear what the future may hold. But there have been other pandemics that the world has faced over the past few hundred years. Could we draw from these past pandemics to predict how this current one may end?
The Bubonic plague
Its first recorded outbreak in 541 A.D., the Bubonic plague was caused by a bacteria called yersinia pestis. It was transmitted by fleas on rats and other rodents. This plague killed around two hundred million people over 2,000 years. It is far less common to experience an outbreak of the Bubonic plague as of late, but it still exists. Back in July, there was an outbreak in Mongolia. It is believed that it was eventually combatted using heavy quarantining techniques and by improving general sanitation. We can now defeat the virus using antibiotics.
At its height, 3 out of 10 people would die of Smallpox. It’s caused by the bacteria variola minor and it was spread by droplets from the nose or mouth, as well as from the sores that developed on the skin as a symptom of the illness. Its earliest outbreak was recorded in 1520. It is the only disease that has been eradicated by a vaccine, developed in 1796.
Cholera is a disease that is caused by contaminated food or drinking water. It typically affects recovering areas and countries that might have limited access to effective sanitation. Cholera epidemics were a regular occurrence throughout much of the 19th century. In fact, a Cholera outbreak in Nashville, TN, took the life of former US President James K. Polk in 1849. This disease still kills around 100,000 to 140,000 people per year. Generally, this disease can be contained by simply having strong infrastructure and keeping things well sanitized.
More commonly known as the flu, different strains of Influenza have killed up to one hundred million people throughout history. The Spanish Flu, a specific strain of influenza, was said to have infected up to 21% of the world's population. After the largest recorded outbreak in the early 20th century, strains of the flu have faded and become more benign. Like the coronavirus, the flu can be contained using isolation tactics such as quarantine.
Present from 1981 to today, this is a disease that is spread through bodily fluids and has taken more than 32 million lives globally. The symptoms of this disease take a long time to develop and it spreads very quickly. Due to global health campaigns pushing for a change in people’s sexual habits, advanced diagnostic techniques, and increased availability of safe injections, the growth of this virus has slowed. However, an estimated 690,000 people died in 2019 as a result of HIV/Aids.
Now, how can we use this information to speed up our arrival to the end, or the fade into the oblivion of coronavirus? It is safe to say that many of these pandemics have been contained using isolation techniques such as quarantining. A trend that you can see amongst these major diseases is effective drugs or vaccines, and although scientists and researchers are working tirelessly, there is not an available vaccine yet. We are, however, able to quarantine. So please, learn from history and stay home.