Cities enforcing early restrictions had lower mortality rates during 1918 flu

01 Avril, 2020, 17:25 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Survivor Recalls 1918 Flu Pandemic That Killed 50 Million People Globally | NowThis

Data from the Spanish Flu pandemic suggests that strict social distancing and other measures slowed disease spread and decreased mortality rates by as much as 50% in cities that used them. It killed 675,000 people.

Then, as now, not everyone agreed that early, restrictive social-distancing measures were the best policy for containing the pandemic. Here's how the past global health pandemic compares to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Historical records also show that 28 percent of all Americans were infected by the Spanish Flu.

Researchers analysing the preventative measures adopted during the 1918 "Spanish flu"-the deadliest pandemic of the 20th century-have found that cities which enforced early, broad isolation and prevention measures had lower mortality rates".

According to the review research, published in the Journal of the American Society of Cytopathology, the USA cities San Francisco, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Kansas City collectively had 30 to 50 per cent lower disease and mortality rates than cities that enacted fewer and later restrictions.

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One study the scientists reviewed showed that these cities also had greater delays in reaching peak mortality, with the duration of the controlling measures correlating with a reduced total mortality burden. Dr. Pambuccian led the research review to help develop standards for staffing and safety in the Loyola cytology lab, where infectious diseases are studied at the cellular level.

"An estimated 675,000 people died in the USA. from the Spanish flu in 1918 and there was scepticism that these policies were actually working". As Pambuccian writes, much of the US lived with "poverty, poor nutrition, poor hygiene, household/community-level crowding, and a lack of preparation of the population and decision makers due to cognitive inertia and poor medical and insufficient nursing care". News about what was spreading on the east coast of the USA wasnt instantly available to everyone on the west coast, to say nothing of how long it took for news to flow from country to country.

"But the principles of containing viral spread applied then as they do now, and despite skepticism that these policies were actually workingthey obviously did make a difference", Pambuccian writes.

"In 1918, the world was still at war "with overcrowded barracks", with much of the U.S. living with "poverty, poor nutrition, poor hygiene, household/community-level crowding, and a lack of preparation of the population and decision makers due to cognitive inertia and poor medical and insufficient nursing care", Pambuccian said".

The COVID-19 outbreak we are experiencing now is similar to what happened more than 100 years ago.

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