We think of the flu as a common seasonal illness that everyone is bound to get, right? Wrong, during the 2009 swine flu epidemic it affected 203,000 people, and the Ebola outbreak… only 39,962. In 1918 there was a flu epidemic across the world, killing more people than WWI and WWII, in only 18 months. Though this pandemic killed 50-100 million people today the effects would be much worse. In 1918 there were no planes and only 1.8 billion people on earth, but now there are 7.8 billion people on this planet, and a decent amount of those people are traveling from country to country every day. If something to this same severity happened today then hundreds of millions of people would die and not just from the pandemic, but from what we consider preventable deaths.
While the flu vaccine is only 50 percent effective getting it can hugely decrease your symptoms if you do contract the disease. Though there is hope, a universal flu vaccine. The biotech company distributed bio is trying to create a vaccine that could vaccinate against all possible flu strains. Though this is very difficult because this specific virus is ever-mutating. So instead of trying to attack all the symptoms and effects on the body, they’re attacking the “Achilles heel” itself. They looked at all the past flu strains and attacked the similarities, and this approach has been working in pig trials; but this vaccine won’t be available to test on humans until at least 2025, so we could be in serious danger in the meantime.
This pandemic type disease sounds far off but it’s really not. The Coronavirus affecting China right now could start this pandemic. It has already killed 56 and effected 1,975, and three in America (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/26/world/china-coronavirus.html). This specific virus is contagious even before the person shows any flulike symptoms, making it incredibly spreadable. It also has an incubation period of 10-14 days making the contagious period even longer. While the U.S. had taken all Americans out of Wuhan (where the virus started) and China has stopped the nationwide wildlife trade (which has been linked to epidemiological risks) we are at extreme risk. So we ask the question: is this the pandemic we’ve been anticipating?