AP: Old records shed new light on smallpox outbreaks in 1700s

AP: Old records shed new light on smallpox outbreaks in 1700s. “A highly contagious disease originating far from America’s shores triggers deadly outbreaks that spread rapidly, infecting the masses. Shots are available, but a divided public agonizes over getting jabbed. Sound familiar? Newly digitized records — including a minister’s diary scanned and posted online by Boston’s Congregational Library and Archives — are shedding fresh light on devastating outbreaks of smallpox that hit the city in the 1700s.”

Harvard Gazette: The main public health tool during 1918 pandemic? Social distancing

Harvard Gazette: The main public health tool during 1918 pandemic? Social distancing. “Analyses of 1918 public health responses found that interventions in U.S. cities helped reduce influenza transmission and lower mortality rates when they were implemented early in the pandemic. In a 2007 article, researchers examined data from 17 U.S. cities and included a graph that compared the mortality rates of Philadelphia and St. Louis, based on the timing of social-distancing measures. Philadelphia, which waited more than two weeks after the first cases were reported — even allowing a city-wide parade — reported 748 deaths per 100,000. St. Louis, which rushed to ban public gatherings two days after the first cases were detected, ended up with 358 deaths per 100,000.”

COVID-21: A Primer (Route Fifty)

Route Fifty: COVID-21: A Primer. “The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic may drag on for years, but the nightmare of last year—of an entirely new viral illness, emerging in a specific sociopolitical context—is behind us. Instead we’re facing a new set of challenges, and they are not easily comparable to what has come before. It’s worth considering a new way of thinking about the period of the pandemic now ahead of us—one that leads us neither to complacency nor to paralyzing despair. In many ways COVID-19 is already over. What lies ahead is COVID-21.”

UC San Diego Health: Novel Coronavirus Circulated Undetected Months before First COVID-19 Cases in Wuhan, China

UC San Diego Health: Novel Coronavirus Circulated Undetected Months before First COVID-19 Cases in Wuhan, China. “Using molecular dating tools and epidemiological simulations, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues at the University of Arizona and Illumina, Inc., estimate that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was likely circulating undetected for at most two months before the first human cases of COVID-19 were described in Wuhan, China in late-December 2019.”

Ars Technica: COVID herd immunity may be unlikely—winter surges could “become the norm”

Ars Technica: COVID herd immunity may be unlikely—winter surges could “become the norm”. “Some experts speculate that the pandemic coronavirus will one day cause nothing more than a common cold, mostly in children, where it will be an indistinguishable drip in the steady stream of snotty kid germs. Such is the reality for four other coronaviruses that have long stalked school yards and commonly circulate among us every cold and flu season, to little noticeable effect. But that sanguine—if not slightly slimier—future is shaky. And the road to get there will almost certainly be rocky.”

Opinion: Abandoning masks now is a terrible idea. The 1918 pandemic shows why. (Washington Post)

Washington Post: Opinion: Abandoning masks now is a terrible idea. The 1918 pandemic shows why.. “That pandemic came in waves that were much more distinct than what we have experienced. The first wave was extraordinarily mild. The French Army suffered 40,000 hospitalizations but only about 100 deaths. The British Grand Fleet had 10,313 sailors fall ill — but only four deaths. Troops called it ‘three-day fever.’ It was equally mild among civilians and was not nearly as transmissible as influenza normally is. Like SARS-CoV-2, the 1918 influenza virus jumped species from an animal to humans. As it infected more humans, it mutated. It became much more transmissible, sweeping across continents and oceans and penetrating everywhere. And as it became more transmissible, it caused a much, much more lethal second wave. It became the worst version of itself.”

Tom Hanks, The NBA, And COVID’s Day Of Reckoning In The US: An Oral History (BuzzFeed News)

BuzzFeed News: Tom Hanks, The NBA, And COVID’s Day Of Reckoning In The US: An Oral History. “So many forces of history years in the making converged on March 11 and were all subsumed by something few thought possible just weeks earlier. Suddenly there was no escape. The sentencing of Harvey Weinstein and the last moments of Bernie Sanders’ failing campaign against Joe Biden — huge milestones for the #MeToo movement and American politics — were abruptly overtaken. Even the experts at the World Health Organization would agree March 11 was a turning point — that was the date they officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. BuzzFeed News reporters interviewed 65 people in four countries to tell the story of that fateful day.”

Duke Today: How To Reduce Severity Of The Next Global Virus Outbreak

Duke Today: How To Reduce Severity Of The Next Global Virus Outbreak. “As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine, light appears at the end of a long, bleak tunnel. But there’s far more work to do to stave off the next global virus outbreak – a future pandemic that experts say is likely if not assured. There are plenty of improvements possible, from closer relationships between public health officials and food producers to a more cohesive, global virus response network. Three Duke experts discussed these and other issues Thursday in a virtual briefing for media.”

‘When will it end?’: How a changing virus is reshaping scientists’ views on COVID-19 (Reuters)

Reuters: ‘When will it end?’: How a changing virus is reshaping scientists’ views on COVID-19. “A new consensus is emerging among scientists, according to Reuters interviews with 18 specialists who closely track the pandemic or are working to curb its impact. Many described how the breakthrough late last year of two vaccines with around 95% efficacy against COVID-19 had initially sparked hope that the virus could be largely contained, similar to the way measles has been. But, they say, data in recent weeks on new variants from South Africa and Brazil has undercut that optimism.”

The Daily Universe: Database of 1918 pandemic deaths inspires answers for the future

The Daily Universe: Database of 1918 pandemic deaths inspires answers for the future. “[Brigham Young University] researchers are using a database of 1918 influenza deaths to draw lessons from the past and make informed decisions going forward. The university’s Family History Technology Lab teamed up with FamilySearch to create this online interactive database. Researchers used machine learning (the same technology used in self-driving cars) to read death certificates.”

Covid-19: Five days that shaped the outbreak (BBC)

BBC: Covid-19: Five days that shaped the outbreak. “A year ago, the Chinese government locked down the city of Wuhan. For weeks beforehand officials had maintained that the outbreak was under control – just a few dozen cases linked to a live animal market. But in fact the virus had been spreading throughout the city and around China. This is the story of five critical days early in the outbreak.”

Smithsonian Magazine: What the Pandemic Christmas of 1918 Looked Like

Smithsonian Magazine: What the Pandemic Christmas of 1918 Looked Like. “Christmas 1918 was not Christmas 2020. The pandemic had already peaked in the U.S. in the fall of 1918 as part of the disease’s second wave. Meanwhile, this week the deaths attributed to Covid-19 in the U.S. are the highest they’ve ever been, showing no signs of waning as the holiday approaches. But the flu also killed far more people (675,000) than Covid-19 has to date, in a country that was much smaller, population-wise, at the time. And it wasn’t over by any means.”

BBC: Cheaper to prevent pandemics than ‘cure’ them

BBC: Cheaper to prevent pandemics than ‘cure’ them. “The world needs a new approach to prevent future pandemics killing millions more victims, a report says. It says contact between people, wildlife and livestock must be curbed to cut the risk of bacteria and viruses crossing from animals to humans. Health care should be provided for people living close to animals in high-risk areas. This would help stop outbreaks of disease before they have a chance to spread more widely.”

TIME: This Isn’t the First Time America Has Voted During a Pandemic. Here’s How the 1918 Flu Affected That Year’s Election

TIME: This Isn’t the First Time America Has Voted During a Pandemic. Here’s How the 1918 Flu Affected That Year’s Election. “As the midterm elections of 1918 approached, World War I was winding down, but a new strain of the flu was surging. It had been spreading earlier in the year, but is believed to have mutated into a more deadly, more contagious strain that fall. Data analyzed by Tom Ewing, a professor of history at Virginia Tech, reveal that death rates in northeastern cities had spiked in late September and mid-October in 1918, and had sharply declined by Election Day on Nov. 5, while West Coast cities were in the throes of ongoing outbreaks.”

University of Utah: Marriott Library digital exhibit finds echoes of today’s pandemic news in century-old headlines

University of Utah: Marriott Library digital exhibit finds echoes of today’s pandemic news in century-old headlines. “Cancelled events. Shuttered businesses. Debates about face coverings. Although the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020 seems like a century ago, it was an actual century ago, in fall 1918, when the Spanish Flu pandemic rolled through most parts of the globe—including Utah. The newspaper headlines of the time show not only the concern and caution in the early stages of the pandemic but also the eventual drop in cases and easing of restrictions—the endgame that, for us, remains in the foggy future. The J. Willard Marriott Library is launching a new digital exhibit to explore the 1918 flu pandemic in Utah through contemporary newspaper articles. The articles show how the issues and divisions that have appeared in the COVID-19 pandemic are, unfortunately, nothing new. ”