NYC death toll from COVID-19 was similar to 1918 flu

Modesto Morganelli
Agosto 15, 2020

However, "excess deaths" - the number of deaths reported during the COVID-19 pandemic compared with a "normal" year - could provide a more accurate picture of the virus' impact, researchers have suggested. "If it were not for that, it could be that COVID-19 is a more lethal virus than 1918 was".

"COVID-19 and 1918 H1N1, the Spanish flu, kind of belong in the same conversation", Faust, who is also an instructor at Harvard Medical School, explained.

According to the study, this means "the relative increase during early COVID-19 period was substantially greater than during the peak of the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic".

"For anyone who doesn't understand the magnitude of what we're living through, this pandemic is comparable in its effect on mortality to what everyone agrees is the previous worst pandemic", Jeremy S. Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston who led the team of researchers, told The Washington Post.

The current study comparing the death tolls between the 1918 influenza pandemic and recent COVID-19 pandemic revealed that the absolute increase in mortality over baseline, which was described by the scientists as excess mortality, during 1918 influenza pandemic was higher, but comparable to that occurred during initial periods of COVID-19 pandemic in New York City.

"I would look back at what happened in NY this year as a cautionary tale", he said.

The death rate for New York City during the height of the 1918-1919 flu pandemic - October and November of 1918 - was 287 deaths per 100,000 people in the general population, researchers said.

On August 12, there were at least 706 new cases of coronavirus reported across NY - higher than the average of 641 cases per day over the past week, according to state and local health agencies and hospitals.

In addition, the usual number of deaths - referred to as baseline mortality rates - in NY over the last few years have been less than half what they were between 1914 and 1917.

Nancy Bristow, co-author of the journal article and history professor at the University of Puget Sound, wrote: "In 2020, though legal segregation is gone, we are seeing the disparate landing of this pandemic following the same patterns of the earlier pandemic, with people of color, especially African Americans, Latinx Americans, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, and Pacific Islanders in our communities suffering hospitalization and death at rates far above those of white Americans". During the first two months of its coronavirus outbreak (March 11 through May 11), the city saw 33, 465 deaths. That were not available during the 1918 flu pandemic.

A "prudent" return to such measures could "prevent the exhaustion of essential supplies of lifesaving resources in the coming weeks and beyond", Faust and his colleagues believe.

The strain of influenza behind the 1918 pandemic, often called "Spanish flu" because Spain was the first country to widely report on its outbreak, ultimately killed 50 million people worldwide, including 675,000 in the US. With the new coronavirus, the world had a head start thanks to new technology and medicine.

Altre relazioniGrafFiotech

Discuti questo articolo

Segui i nostri GIORNALE