1918 Spanish flu documentary (Video)

56 minutes. This fascinating PBS documentary “Influenza 1918” was first available in January, 1998 and was re-issued in March, 2020.

Dr. Fauci, in his “normal” non-raspy voice, speaks several times in the section on what scientists were doing in 1998 and his hopes for the future.

The film takes viewers back to September of 1918, when soldiers at an army base near Boston suddenly began to die. The cause of death was identified as influenza, but it was unlike any strain ever seen.

The film includes interviews from survivors of the flu in different parts of the county. Many people died, including entire families.

There is a  “mystery” story of how the virus genome was finally completed around 1995. It starts with a young Swedish virologist who went to a small Alaskan village in the 1950s and retrieved samples from people who died and buried frozen in the permafrost. To read about the “Mystery” story of how the genome was decoded “Scientific Investigation of the 1918 Flu” click here

50 million deaths worldwide. 675,000 Americans died. The U.S. population at that time was 103,268,000. The death rate was 6.5%. Mass graves were used.

My comments: The film is not about today’s political issues. It was produced in 1998. I watched it in mid-March when it first became available. I recently re-watched it. The film is even more relevant today as it helps us understand our last U.S. pandemic. Similar to New York in March, there were mass graves, many people in hospitals, large crowded events, etc.

Click here watch on youtube Also available on Amazon Prime

Many of the issues in 1918 are relevant today. There was denial, failure to wear masks, crowds, no physical distancing. Of course, back then no one knew what caused it. We did not know about viruses until the electron microscope was invented in the 1930s and we could see them.

To watch another popular video, Deadliest Plague of the 20th Century: Flu of 1918, click here.

Previous epidemics and pandemics from today to 5,000 B.C.

(Updated 9-14-20) Most of the recent pandemic and academic viruses are influenza (flu) coronaviruses, as you can see below. They mutate into different versions. Fortunately, Covid-19 does not appear to mutate very much, so far.

Every epidemiologist’s nightmare was a respiratory virus pandemic. Now we have SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, which is similar to the 1918 Spanish flu, our last pandemic.

“The virus met all his four criteria for a nightmare scenario” Per Dr. Anthony Fauci: new, respiratory-borne, easily transmissible and has a significant degree of illness or mortality.”

Electron microscope view

1918 Spanish flu (H1N1 influenza coronavirus) was a “novel” (new) coronavirus. No human had ever been infected. The most recent U.S. pandemic. The avian-borne flu resulted in 500 million infected and 50 million deaths worldwide, from February 1918 to April 1920. 675,000 Americans died. The U.S. population at that time was 103,268,000. The death rate was 6.5%.

The Spanish flu disappeared when most of the infected had either developed immunities or died (herd immunity). Many of the deaths were people in their 20s to 40s, very unusual, which had a significant negative effect on America. Covid mostly affects older people, especially over 80 and has a much lower death rate, .6 to 1.0%. 

1957 Asian flu (H3N2 influenza, combination of other coronaviruses) caused an estimated total of about 1.1 million deaths globally, with 116,000 deaths in the United States. A vaccine was developed, effectively containing the pandemic.

Continue reading “Previous epidemics and pandemics from today to 5,000 B.C.”