How it happened: The Terrible Pandemic of 1918

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The 1918 flu pandemic was one of the deadliest and most vicious pandemics in history of mankind. An unusually deadly influence, the 1918 flu pandemic was different than previous influenza outbreaks.

Usually, influenza outbreaks target juvenile and elderly people, or already weakened patients. The 1918 pandemic, on the other hand, killed previously healthy young adults.

The 1918 pandemic infected more than 500 million people, including even Pacific islands and the Arctic. At the time, almost 100 million people died, which was 3-5% percent of the world’s population. This makes the 1918 pandemic one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.

At first, the influenza looked like a common cold. However, it was more than that. The pandemic involved the H1N1 influenza virus.

The biggest problem at the time was that doctors had no effective vaccines or antivirals to treat the flu. The first licensed flu vaccine appeared in the 1940s. Fun fact: During the 1918 flu pandemic New York City health commissioner ordered businesses to open and close on staggered shifts to avoid overcrowding the subways.

This documentary explains how the pandemic started, and why it was as deadly.

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