Spanish Flu: The Pre-Coronavirus Pandemic That Killed Millions In 1918


Long before the coronavirus, the Spanish flu was one of the first recorded pandemics, infecting at least 27% of the Earth's population at the time and killing 35% of them. Reaching as far as the Arctic, this pandemic heralded the beginning of a more connected, albeit frightening, world whose complications we're still dealing with today.


Spanish Flu Killed More Adults Than Any Other Flu

Deaths from the flu tend to be limited to those who already have an immature or weakened immune system—basically, the very young or the very old. The Spanish flu, like today's coronavirus, was different. It wiped out just as many (if not more) young adults as infants and seniors, resulting in a higher mortality rate than had been seen in previous influenza outbreaks.

It wasn't just that the flu was super intense, although it definitely was. What really pushed this outbreak into pandemic territory was its ease of transmission and the poor hygiene and overcrowding of the medical camps ironically set up to treat it. Much like the coronavirus, the growing convenience of international travel helped it spread far beyond the distance that it normally would.