The next global pandemic might be worse than the Black Death

Strange Sounds  – December 8, 2017

Except that the really real Spanish Flu also jumped to humans from birds. For reference, the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 was the worst global disease outbreak since the Black Death, and easily one of the worst in history. It killed up to five percent of the world’s population, and the only reason it doesn’t occupy a lot of space in high school history books is because it got overshadowed by another disaster happening at the time: World War I. Leave it to humans to be self-absorbed when it comes to wiping out humans.

Since 2013, 1,364 people have come down with H7N9, and 40% of them have died, mainly from respiratory and organ failure. While we’re busy not caring about it, it’s getting better at spreading among humans. But even if this one doesn’t catch on, the next one will. Or the next one. The flu itself isn’t the big problem, it’s that we’re completely unprepared for another big pandemic.

For one thing, the world has a much higher population today than it did a century ago, which means that there are more of us packed more closely together, making us a flu version of an all-you-can-eat buffet. We also travel much more easily than we used to, which means that diseases have a much easier time getting around the world quickly. On top of that, the systems in place to prevent such tragedies have grown so complacent about the risks that, as evidenced by the Ebola situation, they’re slow to act.