History’s Deadliest Pandemics…What Are the Odds?
What follows is a video that examines 17 of the worst, most deadly pandemics of all time. The severity of each pandemic is compared in terms of “how likely were you to die of this disease”. For example, the current Covid-19 pandemic (as of this past Sunday) puts the probability of dying from it at “1 in 66,400”.
To be clear that’s not “people who get the disease have a 1 in 66,400 chance of dying”. It’s more like, “if you are a person alive today you have a 1 in 66,400 chance of catching Covid-19 AND dying as a result”.
As you go back in time, you will be struck by how deadly pandemics of the past actually were. For instance, the Spanish Flu of 1918-1920 had odds of dying of “1 in 48”. The Black Death of the 14th century killed and estimated 200 MILLION people. Bearing in mind that the worldwide population at that time was still way under 1 billion, that means…get ready for it…”1 in 3 people” died from it!
This is not, at all, to downplay the seriousness of the current pandemic. It is serious. It is deadly. The social distancing recommendations are a good idea. Also, the Spanish Flu and the Black Death are over. They’ve claimed all the lives they’re going to. We still don’t have a treatment or vaccine for Covid-19, so those odds are only going to get worse. But, by observing distancing and good hygiene, we can all keep the ratio up in the “1 in 60,000” range and not let it get to the “1 out of 3” range.
Here’s the video but, once again…this isn’t meant to lull anyone into a false sense of safety or complacency. Stay isolated until experts say the coast is (relatively) clear.
From Wuhan to New York City: A Timeline of COVID-19's Spread