last updated 1 Apr 2021
20th and 21st Century

Disease Date Infections Deaths
COVID-19 2019 520M* 6-15M‡
Zika 2016 51
H7N9 Bird Flu 2013 1,568 616
MERS Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, *** 2012 2,494 858
H1N1 Swine Flu ** 2009 152 K - 575 K
SARS 2002 8,096 774
Nipah 1998 513 398
H5N1 Bird Flu 1997 861 455
Ebola* 1976 33,577 13,562
Marberg 1967 466 373
Spanish Flu 1918 466 17 - 100 M
* COVID cases as of May 12, 2022
‡ 6 million officially reported; 15 million estimated.
See Actual Deaths on the Corona page

Virus Data Deaths
Infections Deaths
SARS-CoV 2002-2003 10% 8,098 774
MERS-CoV 2012-2020 34% 2,519 866
Seasonal Flu (US) 0.1-0.2%
Ebola 2014-16 40%
Swine Flu (H1N1 variation) 2009 <0.1% 1B 151,700-575,400
COVID-19 2020 1.2-3% 512 M 6-15M*
* As of May 2022
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

1918 Flu:
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..
Disease Virus US
lation M
Peak US
New Deaths
per M
Date Months after
100th death
Total Deaths
United States
Rate US1
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
a/o 5/12/22
6-15 M
a/o 5/12/22
1. Fatality rate is difficult to measure because infections are difficult to count and the 1918 death toll varies.
*. 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