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A Brief History of Pandemics

 The world is still fighting with the coronavirus, after more than a year of it being officially declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). A pandemic is an epidemic that crosses the borders of one country. Pandemics can have a severe and long term impact on humankind. 



Pandemics in History


There have been several instances of pandemics since the ancient times, when modern medicine and science was not much developed. Earlier, people believed that a disease was caused by gods or spirits to inflict destruction upon those who deserve it. But this unscientific perception prevented them from treating the patient properly and led to the death of millions of people. 


There were a number of plague epidemics and pandemics in history, especially in the times of war. The Anthenian plague was spread between 430 to 26 B.C. It originated in Ethiopia during the Peloponnesian War. It spread to different parts of Egypt and Greece. The overcrowded city of Athens became severely affected and many lives were lost due to the rapid spread of the disease. Similarly, the Antonine Plague between 165-180 A.D, infected the Roman Empire. 


The Justinian plague was known as the “real plague” epidemic. It originated in Ethiopia and spread to different parts through trade. It was one of the most severe plagues which led to lonely and deserted streets as trade activities were abandoned. The Black Death of 1334, originated in China and spread to several parts of central Asia, North India, Russia and Europe.


Spanish Flu was caused between 1918 to 1920 by the H1N1 strain of the Influenza virus. Its spread happened in the middle of World War-1. This avian borne flu was one of the most spread pandemic, it infected almost all the parts of the globe. It had a higher mortality than the previous virus and had a deeper impact on humankind. It caused nearly 50 million deaths worldwide. Even after its deadly impact, the virus faded away easily from everyone’s attention because of the ongoing World War at that time. Some writers have written about it as the “forgotten pandemic”. 


The Ebola outbreak was one of the most recent outbreaks, between 2014 and 2016. It mostly affected Central and Western Africa. But it was efficiently contained and did not spread rapidly all over the world.  



Covid-19 Pandemic


The pandemic caused by coronavirus originated in China in November, 2019. It was officially declared as a pandemic by WHO, on March 11, 2020. By that time it had spread to 114 countries. Methods such as quarantine, isolation and lockdown were implemented to curb its spread. New developments related to medicines, treatment, and vaccination have been developed over time. 

The vaccines stand as a ray of hope to overcome the Covid pandemic in near future.