last updated 1 Apr 2021
20th and 21st Century
* COVID cases as of May 12, 2022
|Disease ||Date ||Infections ||Deaths
|H7N9 Bird Flu ||2013
|MERS Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, *** ||2012
|H1N1 Swine Flu ** ||2009
||152 K - 575 K
|H5N1 Bird Flu ||1997
|Spanish Flu ||1918
||17 - 100 M
6 million officially reported; 15 million estimated.
See Actual Deaths on the Corona page
* As of May 2022
|Virus ||Data ||Deaths |
|Seasonal Flu (US) ||
|Swine Flu (H1N1 variation) ||2009
||<0.1% ||1B ||151,700-575,400
||1.2-3% ||512 M ||6-15M*
SARS and MERS didn't cause the same level of devastation that COVID-19 has largely since they aren't as easily transmitted. Rather than moving by casual, person-to-person transmission, SARS and MERS spread from much closer contact, in between family members or health-care workers and patients (or, when it comes to MERS, from camels to people straight). These infections also aren't spread through pre-symptomatic transmission
Note: It was called the Spanish Flew because Spain was neutral in WWI so had not imposed wartime censorship on pandemic news like other countries, so were able to report on it.
One theory has it starting on American soil, in Kansas, where it migrated from birds to humans..
1. Fatality rate is difficult to measure because infections are difficult to count and the 1918 death toll varies.
|Disease ||Virus ||US |
|Peak US |
|Date ||Months after |
|2018 Flu ||H1N1 ||103 ||23.8 ||11/13/18 ||4 ½ ||675,000 ||17-50 M* ||0.7%
|Novel Corona ||COVID-19 ||331 ||10.5 ||01/17/21 ||10 ||1 million |
|6-15 M |
*. Other estimates for the 1918 death toll range from 7 million to 100 million.
I think the rate in the chart below should be per Million not per 1,000. The American Lung Association has the same chart.
But "Comparison of Estimated Excess Deaths in New York City During the COVID-19 and 1918 Influenza Pandemics" | JAMA Network shows the peak in New York city to be similar for the flu and COVID-19.
It still doesn't add up 20 new cases/million/day x 10 ½ months would be 657,500 total cases in the US, but the average cases/day according to this chart would be less than 20.
Why the Second Wave of the 1918 Flu Pandemic Was So Deadly - HISTORY says 195,000 died in the US in October; That would be an average of 63 per million per day.
Some of the early talk about flattening the curve during COVID-19 may have came from this comparison of Philatelphia vs St. Louis during the 1918 flu.
Spanish flu: How it compares to Covid-19 coronavirus in death rate and other factors - Vox
History of 1918 Flu Pandemic | Pandemic Influenza (Flu) | CDC
Spanish Flu | Wikipedia
List of epidemics - Wikipedia
Why Did The World Shut Down For COVID-19 However Not Ebola, SARS Or Swine Influenza?
How coronavirus compares to the 1918 flu, H1N1 and other pandemics | CNBC