Lessons from the 1918-1920 Pandemic | Daily News

Lessons from the 1918-1920 Pandemic

The spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to stock-market crashes, surging financial volatility, decreases in nominal interest rates, and contractions of real economic activity. At this point, there is substantial uncertainty around the eventual scale of the pandemic and its economic implications, especially in terms of how a worst-case scenario could look like. To do that, we can go back to the Spanish Flu of 100 years ago (there are only two survivors living today).

The pandemic arose in three main waves, the first in spring 1918, the second and most deadly from September 1918 to January 1919, and the third from February 1919 through the remainder of the year (with some countries having a fourth wave in 1920). The two initial waves coincided with the final year of World War I (1918), which helped to spread the infection across countries. An unusual feature of the pandemic was the high mortality among young adults without pre-existing medical conditions.

Mortality and morbidity

Adding up the estimates by country and inflating to the world’s population (assuming comparable flu death rates in the uncovered places) yields a total number of flu deaths of 26.4 million in 1918, 9.4 million in 1919, and 3.1 million in 1920, for a world total of 39 million over 1918-1920. As shares of the population, the figures are 1.38% for 1918, 0.49% for 1919, and 0.16% for 1920; the sum of these death rates is 2.0%.

Applying that death rate to the current world population (about 7.5 billion) generates staggering mortality numbers: 150 million worldwide deaths and 6.5 million US deaths. However, these numbers likely represent the worst-case scenario today, particularly because health procedures are more advanced than in 1918-20, although other factors like greater international travel work in the opposite direction. In addition, those worst-case scenarios do not account for differences in demographic profiles of the Great Influenza Pandemic and COVID-19.

Mortality rates are sometimes expressed as shares of numbers infected, but these are much less reliable because they depend on inaccurately measured counts of infections. For the Great Influenza Pandemic, a commonly quoted figure is that roughly one-third of the world’s population was infected by the H1N1 virus. If this number were accurate, a mortality rate of 2.0% for the overall population as we estimated would translate into a mortality rate of 6% of for the infected population. But the latter has to be regarded as highly speculative, because it is based on surveys done in a few places in the US (as described by Frost 1920).

Implications for the COVID-19 pandemic

The Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1920 represents a plausible worst-case scenario for disease outbreaks with global reach like COVID-19. The former’s death rate of 2% of the total population translates into 150 million deaths today. Further, that death rate corresponds to estimated declines in GDP and consumption in the typical country by 6% and 8%, respectively. In addition, the pandemic was associated with sizable declines in real rates of return on stocks and short-term bills.

At this point, the probability that COVID-19 reaches anything close to the Great Influenza Pandemic seems remote, given epidemiological differences, advances in public health, and mitigating policies at play. In any event, the large potential losses in lives and economic activity justify substantial expenditure of resources to attempt to limit the damage. In effect, countries have been pursuing policies of lowering real GDP as ways to curb the spread of the disease. There is clearly a difficult trade-off here concerning lives versus material goods, with little ongoing discussion about how this tradeoff should be assessed and acted upon

China was reportedly the first country to have more than 100 000 5G towers, with Wuhan being the first to contract the new coronavirus. It has been claimed that Wuhan was the first city to introduce blanketed 5G, with Iran, cruise ships and Italy being among other places where 5G was introduced.

In a video recorded at the Health and Human Rights Summit in Tucson, Arizona, on March 12, doctor and anthroposophist Thomas Cowan says every time a fundamentally new electrical technology is introduced, we see a pandemic.

“A biological shock wave occurs, because our organism does not know what to do with the stressful new situation. Many people die and the rest survive, but with an excited biology,” Cowan said.

This happened in 1918 with the Spanish flu, which occurred with the worldwide introduction of radio traffic.

Cowan says when they asked renowned anthropologist Rudolf Steiner about the millions of victims of the Spanish flu in 1918, he replied: “Viruses have nothing to do with it. Viruses are reactions of the poisoned cell that, in defence against the poison itself, secretes the viruses to allow the cell to survive.

“Viruses are therefore waste products of the human cells and therefore do nothing themselves.”

Considering the numerous ways in which people are poisoned by antibiotics, radiation, insecticides, radioactivity, medicines, junk food, polluted water and air, and other harmful substances, Cohen says their resistance and their cells are destroyed. The cells themselves secrete the viruses as a defence response.

One version of 5G, called millimeter wave, runs on very high-frequency radio waves. Those signals can’t travel long distances, which requires towers to be placed close together and installed in more locations.

That has reignited worries that the 5G radio waves – emanating from land and in space – could produce harmful radiation, causing brain cancer, reduced fertility, headaches and other illnesses. However, these claims have not been proved conclusively. The new technology will supposedly be 600 times faster than the current speed of 4G mobile networks, and 10 times faster than the fastest fibre-optic connections.

However, Professor Antoine Bagula, head of the Department of Computer Science at the University of the Western Cape, told the Weekend Argus in November last year: “What is different with 5G compared to other technology is that it’s using high frequencies. It will be much more powerful radiation.

“But the good news is that when you look at the electromagnetic spectrum, there is ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.

“The ionizing is like X-rays and gamma rays – these are the ones which are dangerous to health, which can produce cancer. But 5G is deployed in non-ionizing frequencies.”

The 5G claims were also debunked by FullFact, a UK fact checker.

“As we’ve written about before, there is no evidence that 5G is harmful to humans. 5G is the next generation of wireless network technology, following on from 4G.

“Like 4G, 3G and 2G before it, 5G mobile data is transmitted over radio waves – a small part of the whole electromagnetic spectrum (which includes microwaves, visible light and X-rays).

“These radio waves are non-ionizing, meaning they don’t damage the DNA inside cells. “Public Health England has said that there’s no ‘convincing evidence’ that exposure below the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation guidelines can cause adverse health effects.

“These guidelines go up to 300GHz, whereas the maximum for 5G will probably only be in the tens of GHz.

“And regardless, the claimed symptoms of 5G exposure shown don’t match the symptoms of the new coronavirus.

“The post claims that symptoms of 5G exposure include nausea, hair loss and bone marrow damage but the symptoms of Covid-19 include fever and coughing. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea.”

The Food and Drug Administration and Federal Communication Commission in the US insist there is nothing to be worried about. Most studies haven’t found a link between radio frequency signals from cellphones or cell towers and disease, the agencies say.

But because 5G is so new, there’s no definitive way to know if it will cause long-term health problems.


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