With covid-19 taking over the world, it only makes sense that we’d
take some of that abundant lockdown time to take a stroll through
medical history and look at some of the other deadly epidemics and
pandemics that have plagued our history.

We’ll take a look at some minor epidemics from recent history and
the biggest ones that we’ve ever had when going a bit further back
in time. If nothing else, this’ll prove that covid-19 isn’t that
bad – at least not yet.

The Plague of Justinian

This plague was our first registered encounter with the Bubonic
Plague, and it wiped out nearly half the population of Europe. At the
time (from 541 to 542 A.D.) this meant that we saw about 25 million
casualties. This, sadly, is almost nothing compared to our biggest
run-in with the Bubonic Plague, which we’ll see later.

The Flu Pandemic

This 1918 epidemic that was caused by an influenza strain that caused
the deaths of an appoximated 20 to 50 million people. This was one of
the first influenza pandemics that also killed healthy young adults,
apart from the elderly or the juvenile. The mortality rate of this
pandemic was a whopping 10 to 20%!

The Black Plague

Probably the most known pandemic in our history books, this strain of
the Bubonic plague took the lives of 75 million to 200 million people
in the mid-1300s. We’re still not quite sure how it happened, but
it’s assumed that the strain hopped on some fleas living on rats
that were all over the merchant ships in those days. Europe, Asia and
Africa were utterly devastated in the wake of this pandemic.


So far, the HIV/Aids pandemic has cost the lives of more than 36
milllion people worldwide. The first infection of HIV goes back to
1981 and while we can currently give the infected people medication
to keep their quality of life high, there’s no cure for this
disease and it’ll probably take millions of lives before we can
cure it.

The Asian Flu

This flu strain called H2N2 led to the deaths of approximately 2
million people in Asia and in the US. Considering how it only lasted
from 1956 until 1958, that’s a hefty death toll for such a short
period. Despite it being named the Asian flu for originating in the
Hong Kong area, it caused the deaths of almost 70,000 people in the
US as well.

The Sixth Cholera Pandemic

Like all the ones before it, this Cholera pandemic started out in
India. It slowly took over parts of Southeast Asia and the MIddle
East, slowly spreading across the planet, and took the lives of over
800,000 people. After this outbreak, which took place in 1910, the
Americans reacted so swiftly that they only suffered 11 casualties
from it and it was the last time that a Cholera outbreak took place
on American soil.

The Antonine Plague

More commonly known as the Plague of Galen, the true cause of this plague is sadly unknown. It’s assumed that this 165 A.D. plague, that cost the lives of 5 million people at the time, was caused by either Smallpox or Measles. This plague entered Europe through Roman soldiers, returning home from battle in Mesopotamia. The casualties had quite an impact on the Roman army and utterly decimated their ranks.

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