Tag Archives: 1918 flu

On plague memory (again)

RUMINATING on why the 1918 flu pandemic wasn’t better remembered, the African historian Terence Ranger concluded in the early 2000s that the story wasn’t being told right. The vast majority of the victims—50 million of them at a conservative count—perished in a mere 13 weeks at the tail end of 1918, all over the globe. It was a planetary convulsion that was over in the blink of an eye, but whose impact reverberated through human societies for decades to come…

The Pull of the Stars, by Emma Donoghue (2020)

This article first appeared in Wired on 20 July 2020. To  continue reading, click here.

Closed borders and black weddings

PLAGUES – or, to use a more modern term, epidemics of infectious disease – pluck at our most primal fears. We have lived with them for at least 10,000 years, ever since our ancestors took up farming and built the first semi-permanent settlements. And they have always had the upper hand. They know us intimately, preying on our strengths – our sociability, our love of gossip – and turning them into weaknesses. They are always a step ahead, and once they are out, like the genie, we can’t get them back in. All we can do is limit the damage. So here we are again…

Poor advice

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 11 March 2020. To continue reading, click here.

 

Pandemics and socialised medicine

AS the world grapples with a global health emergency that is COVID-19, many are drawing parallels with a pandemic of another infectious disease – influenza – that took the world by storm just over 100 years ago. We should hope against hope that this one isn’t as bad, but the 1918 flu had momentous long-term consequences – not least for the way countries deliver healthcare. Could COVID-19 do the same…?

Aneurin Bevan, architect of the UK’s National Health Service, at its birth in 1948

This article first appeared online in TIME on 7 March 2020. To continue reading, click here.

 

Fake news and infectious disease

JUST over 100 years ago, the so-called Spanish flu killed an estimated 50 million people, in probably the worst pandemic the world has seen. It erupted in the northern hemisphere spring of 1918 and circled the globe over the next three years…

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 1 March 2020 . To continue reading, click here (paywall – I know, the irony).